Giving a handgun or other firearm to someone under 18
In Colorado, it is generally a crime to sell, give or lend a gun to someone under the age of 18. The exception is if the gun is for a lawful use – such as self-defense or competitive shooting – and is done with the permission of the juvenile's parent or guardian.
Providing a handgun to a juvenile is a Colorado class 4 felony. Penalties can include:
- Up to 6 years in prison, and/or
- A fine of up to $500,000.
Giving a child a firearm other than a handgun is a Colorado class 1 misdemeanor. It can be punished by:
- 6 - 18 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of $500-$5,000.
To help you better understand Colorado's law against giving a gun to a juvenile, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. When is it legal to give a gun to a juvenile?
- 2. Illegally providing a handgun to a juvenile
- 3. Illegally providing a firearm other than a handgun
- 4. Definitions:
- 5. Consequences of providing a firearm to a juvenile
- 5.1. Felony penalties for providing a handgun
- 5.2. Misdemeanor penalties for providing a firearm other than a handgun
- 6. Defenses to Colorado 18-12-108.7 C.R.S.
You do not violate 18-12-108.5 C.R.S. when the child is legally permitted to have a gun under Colorado 18-12-108.5 C.R.S, possession of handguns by juveniles.
Specifically, you may legally provide a gun to someone under the age of 18 if you are, or you have the permission of, the child's parent or legal guardian and the juvenile is:
- in attendance at a hunting or firearms safety course;
- practicing at a legal shooting range;
- engaging in an organized firearms competition or performance by an organized group which is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code;
- hunting or trapping pursuant to a valid license;
- traveling to or from any of the activities above and the gun is unloaded;
- on real property under the control of his/her parent, legal guardian, or grandparent; or
- at home and the gun is for self-defense.
For purposes of these exceptions, a handgun is considered “loaded” if:
- There is a cartridge in the chamber of the handgun; or
- The handgun is a revolver and there is a cartridge in the cylinder; or
- Both the handgun and ammunition in such close proximity to a person that he or she could readily gain access to both and load the handgun.
You may also legally give a gun to a juvenile if you reasonably believe the juvenile will physically harm you if you attempt to disarm him/her or prevent him/her from possessing the gun.
Providing a handgun to a juvenile or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun violates section 18-12-108.7 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S). You can run afoul of this law in several ways.
18-12-108.7 (1)(a) C.R.S. provides:
Any person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly provides a handgun with or without remuneration to any person under the age of eighteen years in violation of section 18-12-108.5 [possession of handguns by juveniles] or any person who knows of such juvenile's conduct which violates section 18-12-108.5 and fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent such violation commits the crime of unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun.
18-12-108.7 (2)(a) C.R.S. provides:
Any person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly provides a handgun to a juvenile or permits a juvenile to possess a handgun, even though such person is aware of a substantial risk that such juvenile will use a handgun to commit a felony offense, or who, being aware of such substantial risk, fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the commission of the offense, commits the crime of unlawfully providing or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun. A person shall be deemed to have violated this paragraph (a) if such person provides a handgun to or permits the possession of a handgun by any juvenile who has been convicted of a crime of violence, as defined in section 18-1.3-406, or any juvenile who has been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for an offense which would constitute a crime of violence, as defined in section 18-1.3-406, if such juvenile were an adult.
Colorado 18-12-108.7 (3) C.R.S. provides:
With regard to firearms other than handguns, no person shall sell, rent, or transfer ownership or allow unsupervised possession of a firearm with or without remuneration to any juvenile without the consent of the juvenile's parent or legal guardian.
Firearms that are not handguns include rifles, shotguns, and other guns with barrels exceeding 12” in length, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech,
Under 18-12-101 (1)(e.5):
“Handgun” means a pistol, revolver, or other firearm of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged, the length of the barrel of which, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed twelve inches.
“Firearm” means any handgun, automatic, revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, or other instrument or device capable or intended to be capable of discharging, cartridges, or other explosive charges.
18-1-501 (5) C.R.S. provides:
“Intentionally” or “with intent”. All offenses defined in this code in which the mental culpability requirement is expressed as “intentionally” or “with intent” are declared to be specific intent offenses. A person acts “intentionally” or “with intent” when his conscious objective is to cause the specific result proscribed by the statute defining the offense. It is immaterial to the issue of specific intent whether or not the result actually occurred.
18-1-501 (6) C.R.S. provides:
“Knowingly” or “willfully”. All offenses defined in this code in which the mental culpability requirement is expressed as “knowingly” or “willfully” are declared to be general intent crimes. A person acts “knowingly” or “willfully” 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” or “willfully”, with respect to a result of his conduct, when he is aware that his conduct is practically certain to cause the result.
18-1-501 (8) C.R.S. provides:
“Recklessly”. A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.
Unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun is a Colorado class 4 felony. Consequences of giving a gun to someone under 18 can include:
- 2-6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole), and/or
- A fine of $2,000-$500,000.
Unlawfully providing a firearm other than a handgun to a juvenile is a Colorado class 1 misdemeanor. Punishment can include:
- 6 - 18 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of $500-$5,000.
The best defense to providing a firearm to juvenile depends on the precise charge and circumstances. However, common defenses to 18-12-108.7 C.R.S. include (but are not limited to):
- You didn't give the gun to the juvenile;
- You accidentally gave the juvenile the gun (for instance, you didn't realize it was in a carrying case you lent to your child);
- You are the child's parent or legal guardian and you gave him/her the gun for a lawful purpose;
- You gave the juvenile the gun for a lawful purpose with the permission of the parent or legal guardian; or
- You believed the juvenile would physically harm you if you attempted to disarm the juvenile or prevent him or her from taking possession of the gun.
Call us for help…
Colorado gun laws are full of nuances and exceptions. But our Colorado criminal defense attorneys are here to help.
If you or someone you know has been accused of providing a firearm to a juvenile or another Colorado weapons offense, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
We represent clients accused of Colorado gun crimes in communities throughout the state, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.
You can reach us through the confidential form on this page or by calling us at our Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211