Weapons Charges in Colorado

Colorado regulates the possession and use of concealed weapons, including guns and explosives.

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Colorado has various laws to regulate firearms within the state: gun permit laws (including how to obtain a concealed handgun license, and penalties for possessing a gun without a license); who, how, and when you may carry a firearm (including penalties for gun carry violations); and others, including those described below.

Prohibited Use

Even if you have a valid gun permit, you may face criminal gun charges for using your firearm in an illegal way. For example, you may not unlawfully aim a firearm at another person or recklessly discharge a firearm. You are also prohibited from setting up a loaded gun as a trap, and leave it unattended while you know (or should know) that it will fire when tripped. It is also illegal to possess a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance.

Possessing a valid gun permit is not a defense to charges of prohibited use, and if convicted you will face the penalties applicable to a class 2 misdemeanor crime. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-106.)

Unlawful Purchase of Firearms 

It is a class 4 felony to knowingly purchase or obtain a firearm when you know that it is illegal to do so. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-111.)To learn more about when it is illegal for you to buy or possess a handgun in Colorado, see Gun Permit Laws in Colorado and Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Colorado.

Private Firearms Transfer

Private firearms transfers – sales or transfers of firearms between non-licensed firearms dealers—are legally acceptable so long as the parties comply with specified federal and state law.

Except for certain specified exceptions, the non-licensed dealer must arrange for a licensed dealer to perform a federally-required background check on the purchaser or transferee, and must also obtain approval from the Colorado State Bureau of Investigation. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-112.)

It is a class 1 misdemeanor to illegally transfer a firearm, and in addition to the applicable fines, the defendant will be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years; and the court will transmit a notification of the conviction and suspension to the national instant background check system created under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. (18 U.S.C. § 922(t).)

Defaced Weapons

It is illegal to knowingly possess a firearm with its manufacturer’s serial number or other identification mark removed or altered, or to deface a firearm’s mark yourself (however, this does not include a mark wearing away through normal wear and tear). Possessing a defaced firearm or defacing a firearm is a class 1 misdemeanor. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-103 & -104.)

Defaced firearms are considered illegal contraband, and a court may confiscate such weapons and order local law enforcement to destroy them. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-103.5.)

Juvenile Possession

It is a class 2 misdemeanor for someone younger than 18 years old to possess a handgun in Colorado. A second or subsequent conviction is a class 5 felony. To learn more about juvenile possession generally, see Juvenile Weapons Possession.

There are some exceptions to this law, including, for example, during legal hunting and related hunting safety courses; and while on private property owned or controlled (rented) by a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, with that adult’s knowledge and permission.

Forfeiture

If you are convicted of a crime in Colorado, the court may order you to forfeit (give up) any firearms that you used during your crime. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-110.)

Stun Guns

It is a class 5 felony to use a stun gun while committing a crime in Colorado. If convicted, you may face penalties for the underlying crime, as well as the unlawful use of a stun gun. (Co. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-12-106.5.)

Getting Legal Help

If you have any questions about gun laws in Colorado, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer. Only an experienced local lawyer can advise you about how state and federal gun law apply to your unique situation, and recommend the appropriate legal course of action for your case.

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