How old do you have to be to open carry in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Nov 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

In general, people must be at least 18 to open carry a handgun in Colorado. The minimum age is raised to 21 for carrying a concealed weapon.

Open carry minimum age

There is no minimum age for carrying rifles and shotguns. But Colorado prohibits people under 18 from open carrying a handgun.

There are exceptions where minors under 18 may possess handguns:

  • The child is hunting or trapping with a current and valid license;
  • The child is at a safety course for guns or hunting;
  • The child is participating in legal target shooting;
  • The child is participating in a legal performance or competition;
  • The child is on property belonging to his/her parent, grandparent, or legal guardian; and the child has their permission; and/or
  • The child is home and has his/her parent or guardian's permission to carry the gun for self-defense

Underage handgun possession is a class 2 misdemeanor. The penalty includes:

  • 3 to 12 months in jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

But subsequent offenses are class 5 felonies. The penalty includes:

Conceal carry minimum age

Colorado requires people to have a CCW permit to conceal carry guns. And only people 21 or older may apply for a permit.

Carrying concealed without getting a permit is a class 2 misdemeanor. The punishment is:

  • 3 to 12 months in jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

CCW-holders who fail to carry their permit with them face class 1 petty offense charges. A conviction carries:

  • A fine of up to $500, and/or 
  • 6 months in jail2

Prohibitions against carrying firearms

Federal law forbids the following people from possessing guns. It does not matter what age they are.

  • Drug addicts;
  • People adjudicated mentally ill;
  • Illegal aliens;
  • Non-immigrant visa-holders (in most cases);
  • People who gave up their American citizenship;
  • Dishonorably discharged veterans;
  • People convicted of a felony;
  • People convicted of domestic violence; and
  • People with a domestic violence restraining order against them

Furthermore, people may not carry guns to the following locations. It also does not matter what age they are.

  • Courthouses;
  • Airports;
  • Post offices;
  • Federally subsidized housing; and
  • Schools and universities

And the following types of guns are prohibited outright in Colorado. The age of the carrier does not matter.

  • Machine guns,
  • Short shotguns, and
  • Short rifles

Possessing prohibited firearms is a class 5 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • 1 to 3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • $1,000 to $100,000 in fines

But a subsequent charge is a class 4 felony. The sentence is:

  • 2 to 6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • $2,000 to $500,000 in fines3

Note that convicted felons caught carrying guns face POWPO charges. This is short for Possession Of Weapon by a Previous Offender (18-12-108 C.R.S.). POWPO is typically a class 6 felony, carrying:

  • 1 to 1 ½ years in prison (with 1 year mandatory parole), and/or
  • $1,000 to $100,000 in fines

But the penalties may be harsher depending on the facts of the case.4

Legal References

  1. 18-12-108.5 C.R.S.
  2. 18-12-203 C.R.S.; 18-12-105 C.R.S.
  3. 18 U.S.C. 930; 18 U.S.C. 922; 18-12-102 C.R.S.
  4. 18-12-108 C.R.S.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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