Prohibited use of firearms, bows, bombs, throwing stars and nunchakus
Section 18-12-106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) makes it a crime to discharge or throw certain weapons at another person in Colorado. The offense can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, and is punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
Weapons covered by CRS 18-12-106 include:
- bows and arrows
- explosive devices designed to detonate from a trip wire
- throwing stars
A first-time violation of CRS 18-12-106 is a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
If, however, within the preceding five years you have a conviction for prohibited use of a weapon, unlawful carrying of a concealed weapon, or possession of a defaced firearm, violation of CRS 18-12-106 is a felony. Penalties for felony use of a prohibited weapon can run as high as 3 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
To help you better understand Colorado’s law against the prohibited use of weapons, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. What weapons are prohibited by CRS 18-12-106?
- 2. What are the definitions of “criminal negligence,” “knowingly,” “nunchakus,” “possession,” “recklessly,” and “throwing stars”?
- 3. What are the penalties for prohibited use of a weapon?
- 4. What are some defenses?
You violate Colorado’s law on prohibited use of a weapon when:
- You knowingly and unlawfully aim a firearm at another person;
- You discharge a firearm or shoot a bow and arrow recklessly or with criminal negligence;
- You knowingly set a loaded gun, trap, or device designed to cause an explosion upon being tripped or approached, and leave it unattended by a competent person immediately present;
- You have a firearm in your possession while you are under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance — a strict liability offense. This means you don’t have to have intended to use the weapon or have acted with any degree of legal culpability. Simply possessing a firearm while intoxicated is a violation of Colorado’s law against prohibited use of a weapon;1or
- You knowingly aim, swing, or throw a throwing star or nunchaku at another person, or you knowingly possesses a throwing star or nunchaku in a public place other than for the purpose of presenting an authorized public demonstration or exhibition or pursuant to instruction in conjunction with an organized school or class. When transporting throwing stars or nunchaku for a public demonstration or exhibition or for a school or class, they shall be transported in a closed, nonaccessible container.
2. What are the definitions of “criminal negligence,” “knowingly,” “nunchakus,” “possession,” “recklessly” and “throwing stars”?
“Criminal negligence”. A person acts with criminal negligence when, through a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.2
“Carefully.” A person acts “knowingly” with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists. A person acts “knowingly” with respect to a result of his conduct, when he is aware that his conduct is practically certain to cause the result.3
“Nunchaku” (a.k.a. nunchuks) means an instrument consisting of two sticks, clubs, bars, or rods to be used as handles, connected by a rope, cord, wire, or chain, which is in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense.
“Possession.” Under CRS 18-12-106, possession of a firearm requires actual or physical control of the gun. Mere ownership of a firearm is not sufficient to constitute “possession” under the section prohibiting possession of firearms by persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs.4
“(8) “Recklessly”. A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.5
“Throwing star” means a disk having sharp radiating points or any disk-shaped bladed object which is hand-held and thrown and which is in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense. Throwing stars are sometimes referred to as “shurikens.”
A first-time violation of CRS 18-12-106 is usually a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado. The punishment is:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
But a first-time violation of CRS 18-12-106 is a Colorado class 2 misdemeanor if the defendant knowingly aims, swings, or throws a throwing star or nunchaku at another person, or the person knowingly possesses a throwing star or nunchaku in a public place. Penalties include:
- Up to 120 days in jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $750.
Alternatively, the judge can sentence you to probation.
However, if within the previous five years you have been convicted for possessing a defaced firearm, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, or the prohibited use of a weapon, a violation under CRS 18-12-106 becomes a Colorado class 5 felony.
As a Colorado class 5 felony the prohibited use of a weapon carries a possible punishment of:
- 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
- A fine of $1,000-$100,000.6
There are quite a number of defenses to charges of prohibited use of a weapon. Some of the more common are:
- You didn’t meet the required state of mental culpability (recklessly, knowingly, etc);
- You didn’t know the weapon was loaded;
- You didn’t have actual physical control of the weapon;
- You had the legal right to discharge the weapon at the time and place;
- You were the victim of mistaken identification; or
- The weapon was discovered during an illegal search and seizure.
Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a Colorado firearms offense or other weapons charges, we invite you to call us for a free consultation.
Our caring Colorado criminal attorneys have decades of experiences defending clients accused of gun, knife, and other weapons crimes, as well as assault and other gun-related offenses.
We are a firm that represents clients throughout the state of Colorado, with home offices in Denver.
To get a prompt callback from one of our skilled defense lawyers, simply fill out the confidential form on this page. Or, if you prefer, call us at:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
Also see our related article on shooting from a public road (CRS 33-6-126).
- People v. Wilson, App. (1998) 972 P.2d 701, modified on denial of rehearing, certiorari denied.
- CRS 18-1-501 (3).
- CRS 18-1-501 (6).
- People v. Garcia (1979) 595 P.2d 228, 197 Colo. 550.
- CRS 18-1-501 (6).
- CRS 18-12-106. CRS 18-12-107. Prior to March 1, 2022, violating CRS 18-12-106 was always a category 2 misdemeanor carrying 3 to 12 months in jail and/or $250 to $1,000 in fines. SB21-271.