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What are Colorado gun laws as to magazine capacity?
Colorado gun magazines may hold a maximum of fifteen (15) rounds. Anything that holds more than 15 rounds is considered a large-capacity magazine (LCM), which is illegal in the state under CRS 18-12-302. A first-time offense of possessing or selling an LCM is a class 2 misdemeanor, carrying 3 to 12 months in jail and/or $250 to $1,000 in fines.
Under CRS 18-12-302, the punishment for possessing, transferring, or selling a large-capacity magazine depends on:
Facts of the LCM case
Colo. sentence under CRS 18-12-302
|First-time offense||Class 2 misdemeanor:
|Second-time or subsequent offense||Class 1 misdemeanor:
|The defendant possessed the LCM during the commission of a felony or crime of violence (as defined by CRS 18-1.3-406)||Class 6 felony:
The following people may not be convicted under CRS 18-12-302 for possessing large-capacity gun magazines.
Under CRS 18-12-303, it is a class 2 misdemeanor to manufacturer high-capacity magazines without a legible permanent stamp or marking indicating that the LCM was made after July 1, 2013. The marking must be conspicuously engraved or cast upon the LCM’s outer surface. Penalties under state law include 3 to 12 months in jail and/or $250 to $1,000 in fines.
On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people – and injured dozens more – in an Aurora movie theater. The gunman used a magazine that held 100 rounds of ammunition.
A year after the Aurora Theater Shooting, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 13-1224 limiting magazines to 15 rounds. Lawmakers – including Senate Democrat Sen. Rhonda Fields – meant to prevent further mass shootings and promote public safety through gun control. The new law was also supported by Attorney General Phil Weiser.
This large-capacity magazine ban was challenged by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (a nonprofit organization with Republican leanings). But the Colorado Supreme Court upheld it nearly eight years later on June 29, 2020. The court stated:
“Plaintiffs failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that HB 1224 violates the state constitutional right to bear arms…HB 1224 was a reasonable exercise of the police power that has neither the purpose nor effect of nullifying the right to bear arms in self-defense” Rocky Mt. Gun Owners v. Polis (2020) 467 P.3d 314, 2020 CO 66.
The state supreme court did not address whether the state’s ban violates the Second Amendment (federal law). It limited its gun rights analysis to the state constitution.
Other recent gun laws include that purchasers must pass a Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) background check, even for private sales. (HB 13-1229) And under the red flag law, police officers or family members may ask a judge to take away a person’s guns if that person is an extreme risk to others or him/herself. (HB 19-1177)
Our law office is headquartered in Denver, but we serve clients throughout the state of Colorado including Boulder, Weld County, and more.
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.
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