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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Colorado Gun Laws

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Introduction

Colorado has an interesting history as it relates to firearms.  The right is clear and express in their constitution, but qualified, which states “nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.” However, other law sets forth that open carry is allowed and sets forth licensing provisions for concealed carry. With a population of about 5,348,000, Colorado is bordered to the north by Wyoming, to the northeast by Nebraska, to the east by Kansas, to the south by Oklahoma and New Mexico, and to the west by Utah.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Colorado Constitution states:

“The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.”

[http://gunla.ws/co1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of the Colorado preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“…the general assembly concludes that:

(a) The regulation of firearms is a matter of statewide concern;

(b) It is necessary to provide statewide laws concerning the possession and ownership of a firearm to ensure that law-abiding persons are not unfairly placed in the position of unknowingly committing crimes involving firearms.”  29-11.7-101 (2).

(2)(a) “…the general assembly concludes that the carrying of weapons in private automobiles or other private means of conveyance for hunting or for lawful protection of a person’s or another’s person or property while traveling into, through, or within, a municipal, county, or city and county jurisdiction, regardless of the number of times the person stops in a jurisdiction, is a matter of statewide concern and is not an offense.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no municipality, county, or city and county shall have the authority to enact or enforce any ordinance or resolution that would restrict a person’s ability to travel with a weapon in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance for hunting or for lawful protection of a person’s or another’s person or property while traveling into, through, or within, a municipal, county, or city and county jurisdiction, regardless of the number of times the person stops in a jurisdiction.”  18-12-105.6 [http://gunla.ws/co2]

Note: “Open Carry” – A local government may enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the open carrying of a firearm in a building or specific area within the local government’s jurisdiction. If a local government enacts an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the open carrying of a firearm in a building or specific area, the local government shall post signs at the public entrances to the building or specific area informing persons that the open carrying of firearms is prohibited in the building or specific area. 29-11.7-104

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C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Colorado will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Colorado’s license:

“(1) A permit to carry a concealed handgun or a concealed weapon that is issued by a state that recognizes the validity of permits issued pursuant to this part 2 shall be valid in this state in all respects as a permit issued pursuant to this part 2 if the permit is issued to a person who is: (a) Twenty-one years of age or older; and (b)(I) A resident of the state that issued the permit, as demonstrated by the address stated on a valid picture identification that is issued by the state that issued the permit and is carried by the permit holder; or (II) A resident of Colorado for no more than ninety days, as determined by the date of issuance on a valid picture identification issued by Colorado and carried by the permit holder. (2) For purposes of this section, a “valid picture identification” means a driver’s license or a state identification issued in lieu of a driver’s license.”

Since there is no national carry license: some states are reciprocal with Colorado, some are not. Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Colorado State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. Colorado’s most current reciprocity information may be referenced online. [http://gunla.ws/co3]

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D. Open Carry

Colorado allows the open carry of firearms without a permit, however local governments can restrict or ban open carry.  The city of Denver does not allow open carry.

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E. High Capacity Magazine Ban

Colorado bans the sale, transfer, and possession of magazines capable of holding more than fifteen (15) rounds.  Internal tube/helical magazines for .22 firearms and internal tube/helical magazines for lever action guns are not considered high-capacity magazines, even if capable of holding more than 15 rounds. High-capacity magazines that were legally owned before 7/1/13 are grandfathered in and may be kept and used, but not sold or transferred. [http://gunla.ws/d226]

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F. Universal Background Checks

Colorado requires that all firearm sales, even between private parties, go through a FFL who must conduct a background check. For a private party transfer, You must get approval of the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Transfers of antique firearms, bona-fide gifts or loans from immediate family members, and transfers to estate executors or trustees are exempt. Temporary transfers are strictly regulated. [http://gunla.ws/8b16]

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G. Duty to Inform Officers

Colorado does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied. You must carry Your permit, together with valid photo identification, at all times that you are in actual possession of a concealed handgun. You must produce both documents upon demand by a LEO. [http://gunla.ws/51b9]

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H. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Colorado allows anyone who may legally own a firearm to carry a concealed firearm in an automobile or other form of private conveyance, even without a permit. If carrying a long gun, there cannot be a round in the chamber. [http://gunla.ws/co4]

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I. NFA Items

Colorado permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.  Hunting with suppressors is currently legal.

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J. Self-defense Laws

Colorado has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in a dwelling (it doesn’t have to be Your dwelling, as long as You have permission to be there), and You may use deadly force in self-defense against someone who unlawfully enters that dwelling, if You reasonably believe the intruder has or is about to commit a crime in the dwelling in addition to unlawful entry, or the intruder intends to commit a crime against person or property in addition to unlawful entry, or that the intruder intends to use force (however slight) against an occupant of the dwelling. [http://gunla.ws/co5]

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K. Criminal Provisions

Under Colorado law, a license to carry a handgun does not permit carry in any of the following places or circumstances, no matter if it was issued by Colorado or if carry is pursuant to a reciprocity agreement with Colorado:

  • Failure to obtain a background check during the purchase of a firearm at a gun show commits a class 1 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S. A gun show promoter shall arrange for the services of one or more licensed gun dealers on the premises of the gun show to obtain the background checks. If any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, no firearm shall be transferred unless a background check has been obtained by a licensed gun dealer
  • A place where carrying firearms is prohibited by federal law
  • A public building at which security personnel regularly screen for weapons upon entry
  • The property of a public elementary, middle, junior high or high school, unless it is the permittee’s vehicle. If the permittee is not inside the vehicle, the handgun must be in a compartment in the vehicle and the vehicle must be locked
  • Possession of firearm within Motor Vehicle: It is unlawful for any person, except a person authorized by law or by the division, to possess or have under his control any firearm, other than a pistol or revolver, in or on any motor vehicle unless the chamber of such firearm is unloaded. Any person in possession or in control of a rifle or shotgun in a motor vehicle shall allow any peace officer, as defined in section 33-1-102 (32), who is empowered and acting under the authority granted in section 33-6-101 to enforce articles 1 to 6 of this title to inspect the chamber of any rifle or shotgun in the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, a “muzzle-loader” shall be considered unloaded if it is not primed, and, for such purpose, “primed” means having a percussion cap on the nipple or flint in the striker and powder in the flash pan. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of fifty ($50.00) dollars and an assessment of fifteen license suspension points.[http://gunla.ws/9cy5]

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see:

[http://gunla.ws/co6]

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L. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

No. “No Firearm” signs in Colorado do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State Law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass.

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M. Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. There is no law stating it is illegal. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More