Colorado’s Concealed Weapon Law

Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon in Colorado

With very few exceptions, Colorado law makes it a crime to:

  • Carry a knife or firearm concealed on your person, or
  • Bring a firearm or explosive device into a place where government business is being conducted.

A first-time violation of Colorado's concealed weapon law is a Colorado class 2 misdemeanor that can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

A second or subsequent offense within 5 years is a Colorado class 5 felony. Penalties can run as high as three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

To help you better understand Colorado's law on carrying a concealed weapon, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers explain the following, below:

1. What is a concealed weapon?

1.1. The definition of "concealed"

A weapon is concealed on your person if it is placed out of sight so as not to be discernible or apparent by ordinary observation.1

If the weapon is only partially concealed – for instance, by a holster -- it is not concealed for purposes of 18-12-105 C.R.S. As long as a casual observer would recognize it as a weapon, you have not violated the law against carrying a concealed weapon.

  • Example: James has a pistol stuck in the waistband of his pants with the grip sticking out. The weapon is not concealed.

However, the weapon does not have to be in your hand or something you are touching or wearing. It is considered concealed “on your person” if it is within easy reach.2

  • Example: Keven has a pistol tucked under the edge of his seat, within easy reach. Although it isn't technically on his person, it counts as a “firearm concealed on or about his person.”

1.2. Weapons prohibited under Colorado's concealed carry law

18-12-105 C.R.S. applies to:

  • All firearms (whether or not operable);
  • Knives with blades longer than 3 ½ inches (provided your intent was, at least in part, to use the knife as a weapon);3
  • Any weapon classified in whole or in part in Colorado as a dangerous or illegal weapon;4 and
  • Any explosive, incendiary, or other dangerous device if carried on the property of or within any building in which the chambers, galleries, or offices of the general assembly, or either house thereof, are located, or in which a legislative hearing or meeting is being or is to be conducted, or in which the official office of any member, officer, or employee of the general assembly is located.

2. When is "concealed carry" permitted in Colorado?

You may legally carry a concealed weapon in Colorado if:

  • You are in your own dwelling or place of business or on a property you own or that is under your control;
  • You are in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance and carrying the weapon for the lawful protection of your or someone else's property while traveling;
  • You hold a valid written permit to carry a concealed weapon and are not carrying it in a place where concealed carry is prohibited by law (such as a public school or courthouse);
  • You are going on a legitimate hunting or fishing trip with a hunting or fishing knife;
  • You are a peace officer carrying a weapon in conformance with department policy;
  • You are an on-duty United States probation officer or pretrial services officer serving in Colorado under the authority of rules and regulations promulgated by the judicial conference of the United States; or
  • You are carrying a knife with a blade that is less than 3 1/2" long.

3. How do I get a concealed weapon permit in Colorado?

You can apply to the sheriff for a concealed weapon if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You are a legal resident of Colorado or a member of the armed forces (or such person's immediate family) permanently stationed in Colorado; 
  • You are 21 or older;
  • You are not ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law;
  • You have never been convicted of perjury in connection with a permit application;
  • You do not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs;
  • You are not subject to a protective order; and
  • You are able to demonstrate handgun competency.

For more information, please see our article on Obtaining a Concealed Handgun Carry Permit in Colorado.

4. Penalties for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon

A first-time violation of Colorado's concealed weapon law is a class 2 misdemeanor. Punishment can include:

  • 3-12 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $250-$1,000.

A second or subsequent offense within 5 years of a prior offense is a Colorado class 5 felony. Conviction carries potential penalties of:

  • 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

There are also collateral consequences of a felony firearms conviction, including the loss of your right to own or possess a firearm.

5. Defenses to carrying a concealed weapon

The best defense to concealed weapons charges in Colorado depends on the specific facts of your case. However, common defenses often include (but are not limited to):

  • You were on your own property at the time of the alleged offense and the weapon was for the purpose of defending your home, person or property;5
  • You were in a private motor vehicle and needed the weapon for the protection of property in the vehicle while traveling;
  • You held a valid concealed carry permit at the time of the alleged offense and were following the rules;
  • You were a peace officer complying with departmental regulations;
  • You were a federal probation or pretrial services officer complying with United States rules and regulation;
  • You didn't know you possessed the weapon;
  • You had a knife solely for a legitimate purpose (such as hunting or fishing),
  • The blade of your knife was less than 3 1/2 inches long, or
  • The police found the weapon as the result of an illegal search and seizure.

Call us for help…

Colorado's concealed weapons law is full of nuances and exceptions. It is easy for people to fall into a gray area, or violate them without meaning to.

If you or someone you know has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon or another of Colorado's gun laws, we invite you to call us for a free consultation.

Our Colorado defense lawyers have decades of experience defending clients on gun, knife and explosive device charges. We will respond to your inquiry promptly to discuss the best defense to your weapons or Colorado gun charges.

We can be reached using the confidential form on this page, or at our centrally located Denver office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330

Arrested in Nevada? See our article on Nevada concealed carry laws.

Legal references:

  1. People ex rel. O.R., App.2008, 220 P.3d 949, rehearing denied.
  2. People in Interest of R. J. A., App.1976, 556 P.2d 491, 38 Colo.App. 346.
  3. A.P.E. v. People, 2001, 20 P.3d 1179.
  4. People ex rel. A.P.E., App.1999, 988 P.2d 172, certiorari granted, reversed 20 P.3d 1179.
  5. See People v. Ford, 1977, 568 P.2d 26, 193 Colo. 459.



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