What is considered a firearm in Colorado?

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

Colorado's definition of "firearm” under 18-1-901 C.R.S. is "any handgun, automatic, revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, or other instrument or device capable or intended to be capable of discharging bullets, cartridges, or other explosive charges."

Colorado open carry laws for firearms

Generally, the open carry of firearms in Colorado is allowed except in the following ten circumstances:

  1. The person is under eighteen-years-old (18), and the firearm is a handgun;
  2. The person is legally prohibited from having a firearm, such as a convicted felon;
  3. There is a restraining order forbidding the person from possessing firearms;
  4. The firearm qualifies as either a machine gun, short shotgun, or short rifle;
  5. The location of the carrying is on federal property (such as a post office, courthouse, airport, national park, or federally subsidized housing),
  6. The location is a car, and the person has a loaded firearm that is not a pistol or revolver,
  7. The location is a public transportation facility, and the firearm is loaded;
  8. The location is school grounds (secondary or university, public or private);
  9. The person is an out-of-state resident that has no gun-reciprocity with Colorado; or
  10. The person is on government property (such as a city park or a sheriff's station) within the limits of Denver or another jurisdiction which forbids open carry under local “home rule” powers

Colorado concealed carry laws for firearms

People may carry concealed firearms in Colorado in either of the following circumstances:

  • The person is in his/her own home, place of business, or property he/she owns that is under his/her control;
  • The person is a private automobile or other private means of conveyance, and the person is carrying the weapon for the lawful protection of his/her or another person's property while traveling;
  • The person has a current and valid written permit to carry a concealed weapon, and he/she is not carrying it in a location where concealed carry is forbidden (like in a public school or courthouse);
  • The person is a peace officer carrying a gun in conformance with department policy; or
  • The person is an on-duty U.S. probation officer or pretrial services officer, and he/she is serving in Colorado under the authority of rules and regulations promulgated by the judicial conference of the United States

Colorado firearm penalties

The penalties for carrying a prohibited weapon under 8-12-106 C.R.S increase with each conviction. A first-time conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • Three to twelve (3 - 12) months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $250 to $1,000

A second-time conviction within five (5) years of another gun charge is a class 5 felony:

  • One to three (1 - 3) years in Colorado State Prison with two (2) years mandatory parole, and/or
  • A fine of $1,000 to $100,000

Meanwhile, first-time possession of a handgun by a child under 18 is charged as a misdemeanor. But successive offenses are felonies.

Furthermore, unlawful possession of a weapon by a previous offender (POWPO) is prosecuted a felony under 18-12-108 C.R.S. The sentence can include:

  • One to one-and-a-half (1 - 1 ½) years in prison with one (1) year mandatory parole, and/or
  • A fine of $1,000 to $100,000

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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