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Colorado Gun Laws

Colorado gun laws are not particularly permissive or restrictive. Universal Background Checks are enforced and there are some hardware restrictions, but the state makes it relatively simple to acquire a firearm for most people. There are no laws requiring licensing or registration prior to firearms ownership, and Colorado does not enforce a strict waiting period. Colorado is a ‘shall issue’ state, making it fairly simple to obtain a concealed carry license. Although not as permissive as some other states, Colorado is generally gun-friendly.

Colorado Gun Laws at a Glance

Concealed Carry Premit Required Yes
Open Carry Premitted No
Waiting period before purchasing Yes
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting Yes
Firearms License Required for Purchasing Yes
Universal Background Check Yes
Firearm Registration Yes
Large Capacity Magazine Ban Yes

Firearm License Requirements

Colorado generally requires its citizens to obtain a “Firearms Safety Certificate” (FSC) prior to obtaining a firearm. You may be exempt from this requirement:

  • If you are purchasing a long gun and have a valid hunting license
  • If you are military personnel, Colorado federal police officer, or honorably retired from the CA federal police force.
  • If you have a Carry Concealed Weapon Permit or Special Weapons Permit.
  • If you have a Handgun Safety Certificate that has not yet expired.
  • If you have a Curio & Relic Collector license

To obtain an FSC, an applicant must pass an objective written test with a grade of 75% or higher. This test must include:

  • The laws applicable to carrying, storage, and handling firearms
  • The responsibilities of ownership of firearms
  • Current law as it relates to the private sale and transfer of firearms
  • Current law as it relates to the use of lethal force
  • Prevention strategies to address issues associated with bringing firearms into the home

Background Checks

The Colorado Department of Justice (DOJ) is a point of contact for background checks. This means that firearms dealers must submit background checks to the DOJ. In addition to checking the federal database, the DOJ is will examine its own records, as well as those records that it is authorized to access from the State Department of State Hospitals.

Colorado law also requires that any purchaser of a firearm submit an application to purchase said firearm (also known as a “Dealer Record of Sale” or “DROS” form) through a licensed dealer to the DOJ. After submitting the DROS form, the purchaser must comply with a mandatory 10-day waiting period before picking up the firearm.

Gun Shows

All firearms transfers taking place through gun shows must be processed through a licensed firearms dealer.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Prohibited
50 Caliber Rifles Prohibited
Machine Guns Prohibited Without Permit
Large Capacity Magazines Prohibited
Ammunition Armor-piercing, flechette, and explosive ammo are prohibited.

Prohibited Persons

Colorado prohibits anyone from owning a firearm who:

  • Has been convicted of a felony, domestic violence crimes, or is addicted to narcotics
  • Has been convicted of specified crimes involving violence, hate crime offenses, misuse of firearms, or the violation of any Colorado firearms laws
  • Knows they are subject to an outstanding arrest warrant for an offense that would prohibit firearm ownership
  • Is restricted from owning or possessing a firearm as a condition of probation
  • Is a ward of the juvenile court because of an offense involving drugs, violence, or firearms. This prohibition expires when the person reaches age 30.
  • Knows they are subject to a protective order, restraining order, temporary restraining order, or injunction issued by a court

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools Colorado prohibits any person from possessing a firearm in a school zone. See exceptions below.
Vehicles Colorado does not prohibit carrying an unloaded rifle or shotgun in a vehicle. Colorado prohibits the carrying of a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle, unless the gun is in a locked container in the vehicle’s trunk or unless the possessor has a valid concealed carry license. None.

A person may possess a firearm in a school zone:

  • Within a private place of business or property if that property is not on school grounds
  • When the firearm is an unloaded handgun and is in the trunk of a locked vehicle
  • For the lawful transportation of a firearm that is not a handgun
  • When the person possessing the firearm reasonably believes he or she is in great danger
  • When the person is a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler
  • When the person is the guard or messenger of a bank
  • When the person is a duly appointed peace officer

Colorado law prohibits people from carrying a loaded firearm (open or concealed) in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or an unincorporated territory (if it is unlawful to discharge a weapon there).

Concealed Carry Laws

Notify Officer Not required by state law -- however, this may vary by county.
“No Gun” Signs Not enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Permitted
Restaurant Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

Colorado is a “shall issue” state, meaning that a sheriff is required to issue a permit if the applicant meets certain qualifications. However, even if the applicant meets the below qualifications, the sheriff has some discretion to deny a concealed carry permit. If the sheriff has a reasonable belief that the applicant is a danger to himself, herself, or others, the applicant may be denied.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
To obtain a concealed carry license in Colorado, the applicant must:
  • Must be over 21 years of age.
  • Must demonstrate competence with a handgun.
  • Must be a legal resident of Colorado.
  • Must not have been convicted of perjury.
  • Cannot chronically use alcohol.
  • Cannot use controlled substances unlawfully.
  • Must not be subject to a protection order.

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

Applicants for a Colorado concealed carry handguns must submit evidence of completion of one of the following:

  • Evidence of firearm experience through organized shooting competitions or military service
  • Evidence that the applicant is a certified instructor
  • Proof of honorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces within three years preceding the application
  • Proof of honorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. armed forces that reflects pistol qualifications as of 10 years preceding the application
  • Any certificate showing retirement from a Colorado law enforcement agency that reflects pistol qualifications as of 10 years preceding the application
  • A training certificate from a handgun training class obtained within 10 years preceding the application

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Even with a concealed carry permit, Colorado prohibits carrying firearms into the following locations:

  • Public elementary, middle, junior high or high schools
  • Public buildings with fixed security checkpoints
  • Secure areas of airports
  • On snowmobiles
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.