Can a felon own a muzzleloader in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 03, 2019 | 0 Comments

No. Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 18-12-108 C.R.S., people who have been convicted of a felony are then forbidden from knowingly possessing firearms or weapons. Felons caught with a gun face charges for violating POWPO laws in Colorado, which is short for possession of a weapon by a previous offender.


Muzzleloaders are considered a type of "antique firearm" in Colorado. Whereas most guns are breech-loading, muzzleloaders are built so that they are loaded from the open end of the gun's barrel. The concept of muzzleloaders is similar to a canon. 

Muzzleloaders usually rely on gunpowder. Once the shell is deposited in the barrel, a pin fires the primer, and the gun discharges. In order to increase the accuracy of muzzleloaders, users often clean ("swab") the barrel after each shot or every few shots.

Learn more about the official definition of muzzleloaders in Colorado here.

Colorado POWPO laws

A convicted felon in Colorado faces prosecution for POWPO merely by owning a muzzleloader even if he/she never carries or hunts with it. Owning is considered "constructive possession," which means the owner still exercises control over the property despite not physically handling it.

Example: Thad gets convicted of felony battery in Colorado. He had inherited his dad's muzzleloader, which he keeps in his attic. Even if he has no intention of using it, Thad could get charged with POWPO if his parole officer ever finds out about the muzzleloader being in his house.

It also does not matter if Thad in the above example intended to keep the muzzleloader only for hunting or self-defense. Technically, Thad is breaking the law by knowingly possessing a muzzleloader for any reason since he is a convicted felon.

Colorado POWPO penalties

It is a class 6 felony for felons to knowingly possess a muzzleloader. The sentence is:

The penalty also carries a mandatory parole period of one (1) year.

Note that POWPO becomes a class 5 felony if:

  1. the defendant's prior felony was for arson, burglary, or any felony involving the use of a deadly weapon, and
  2. the POWPO happened within 10 years of the prior felony (or from being released from prison for the prior felony)

A class 5 felony has the following sentence:

  • 1 to 3 years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 to $100,000 in fines

The penalty also carries a mandatory parole period of two (2) years.

A second or subsequent POWPO conviction is a class 4 felony. The sentence is:

  • 2 to 6 years in prison, and/or
  • $2,000 to $500,000 in fines

The penalty also carries a mandatory parole period of three (3) years.

Colorado POWPO defenses

There are various possible defenses to Colorado POWPO charges, and they all depend on the unique circumstances of the case. Some of the more typical defenses include the following:

  • The defendant genuinely did not realize he/she had or owned the muzzleloader,
  • Law enforcement found the muzzleloader during an illegal search and seizure that violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, or
  • The defendant was a victim of false accusations

Learn about how to possibly get gun rights restored through a Colorado Governor's Pardon.  

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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