Gun Laws – Colorado and Federal
All persons who wish to buy or receive by transfer a firearm must undergo a background check through a federally licensed firearms dealer. This applies to firearms purchased at dealer, at gun show, through classified ads, on-line or through friends. There are exceptions: bona-fide gift or loan with family members, 72-hour loan.
Background checks are paid for by the buyer, not the taxpayer. (CRS 24-33.5-424) (2013 law). As of August 7, 2023, there is a three-day waiting period. (CRS 18-12-115)
Expands federal prohibitions (felons, domestic violence misdemeanants, adjudicated mentally ill, those under domestic violence protective order, illegal immigrants, alcohol and drug abusers, dishonorably discharged, fugitives from justice and persons who have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor in the prior five years) to include those “under arrest” for crimes.
Extends categories of prohibited juvenile offenders. (CRS 18-12-108).
Persons under age 21 are prohibited from purchasing any firearms: handguns and long guns (CRS 18-12-112 and 18-12-112.5)
Persons who knowingly purchase or obtain a firearm for a person who is ineligible to possess a firearm under federal or state law commits a felony. (penalty: 2000 law)
Persons who provide a handgun to a person under 18 commit a felony. (CRS 18-12-108.7) (2000 law)
A person under 18 in possession of a handgun commits a misdemeanor. (CRS18-12-108.5)
There are exceptions for target shooting and on family property, etc.
Persons who are under a protection order are prohibited from possessing or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition while the protection order is in effect. (CRS 13-14- 105.5 and 18-6-803.5)
Upon conviction of a domestic violence offense or imposition of a domestic violence protection order, the offender must relinquish his or her firearms and ammunition and is prohibited from acquiring firearms or ammunition for the duration of the order. (2013 law CRS 13-14-105.5 and
The clerk of courts must periodically report to the National Instant Criminal Background CheckSystem (NICS) the names of persons who have been adjudicated as mentally ill. (2002 law)
Prohibits the sale and transfer of fixed and detachable large capacity ammunition magazines designed to accept more than 15 rounds. Owners may continue to possess, but not transfer or sell, those magazines purchased before July 1, 2013. (2013 law)
As of October 1, 2023 gun industry members are no longer immune to lawsuits. CRS 6-27-101 through 6-27-106 establish a cause of action for those harmed and for the Colorado Attorney General. Prior to that date, firearms and ammunition manufacturers, importers, and dealers are shielded from liability, except in the case of defects. In the event of a dismissed lawsuit the court shall award reasonable attorney fees and costs to the defendant.
Colorado only has stand-your-ground provisions for within a domicile (Castle Doctrine – CRS 18-1.704.5, 1985 law). Efforts to expand that “shoot-first” concept to businesses have been defeated for 17 years, as of 2023.
Although not expressly stated in statute, Colorado allows people to openly carry firearms without a permit. Home-rule cities may enact ordinances to limit or prohibit them.
Loaded firearms prohibited in any public transportation facility except with CCW permit (CRS 18-9-118)
Presence on racetracks could put owner’s license in jeopardy (CRS 12-60-507)
Colorado sheriffs shall issue concealed carry permits to applicants who pass a background check, unless the sheriff has documented evidence of unsuitability.
Requirements for permit: legal resident of Colorado, 21, eligible to possess firearm, not convicted of perjury with respect to the CCW application, not habitual user of alcohol, not an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, not subject to a protection order, and demonstrates competence with a handgun.
Colorado recognizes permits from other states if the permittee is:
- 21 or over
- Is a resident of that state
- Or has been a Colorado resident for 90 days or fewer.
Concealed handguns may not be taken on K-12 schools or school property. (Can be in locked container of a vehicle). (CRS 18-12-105.5)
A CCW permit enables a person to carry a handgun onto state college and university campuses, although some campuses limit CCW possession to selected dormitories, and prohibit them at sports stadiums (2012 court decision). A 2021 law enables the governing bodies of public colleges and universities to decide if firearms will be prohibited on campus (CRS 18-12-214).
A person may carry a concealed firearm, even if they do not have a CCW permit, while in a private vehicle, as long as they are legal to possess a firearm. The firearm must be unloaded unless it is a handgun. (CRS 18-12-105.6)
A local government, including a special district, may pass an ordinance restricting the carrying of concealed weapons in a building or specific area within its jurisdiction. (CRS 18-12-214)
It is a misdemeanor to aim a firearm at another person, or recklessly or with criminal negligence discharge a firearm, set an unattended loaded trap with a gun, or possess a firearm while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance.
As of June 19, 2021 local governments are empowered to pass gun ordinances that are stronger than state and federal laws. (CRS 29-11.7-101 through 29-11.7-101.5)
Possession of a dangerous weapon (i.e., silencer, machine gun, machine gun conversion device, short shotgun) is a felony unless one has valid permit and license for it. (18-12-102)
As of January 1, 2024, It is illegal to possess or transport an unserialized firearm, frame or receiver. As of June 2, 2023, it is illegal to sell, offer to sell, transfer or purchase an unserialized firearm, frame or receiver. Exceptions for inoperable firearms and gun manufacturers and importers.
A select set of petitioners may seek a court order to temporarily suspend firearms from a person believed to be dangerous to self or others. Valid petitioners are law enforcement, household members (including family), licensed medical professionals, mental health professionals, and educators.
Gun owners are required to safely store firearms so that they are not accessible to juveniles or to prohibited persons. Failure to do so can result in a class 2 misdemeanor offense. Gun dealers are required to post information as to safe storage in their stores.
Gun owners must report lost or stolen firearms within five days after discovery. Failure to do so can result in a $25.00 fine, with a misdemeanor on a second offense.
It is unlawful to openly carry a firearm within 100 feet of a ballot drop box or election site.
Colorado Ceasefire Fact Sheets
Click the title to view each fact sheet in a new tab.
Gun Violence Archives – searchable compendium of gun violence events
Colorado Gun Violence Prevention Organizations
National Gun Violence Prevention Organizations
- Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
- Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions
- Everytown for Gun Safety
- Giffords Law Center
- Moms Demand Action – Colorado Chapter
- National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence
- Newtown Action Alliance
- Sandy Hook Promise
- States United to Prevent Gun Violence
- Violence Policy Center
- Women Against Gun Violence