Colorado’s Gun Laws

By Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer for Gun Rights – H. Michael Steinberg

Introduction – On average – I receive about 20 calls a month on Colorado’s gun laws – the available information on the internet on Colorado’s gun laws can be scattered and not comprehensive – in this article I try to collect as much of it as I can for the benefit of Colorado citizens.

The CBI Insta Check Unit

This Unit is charged with carrying out background checks on behalf of individuals wishing to purchase firearms in the State of Colorado from federally licensed firearms’ dealers. This is accomplished through a process of querying a series of databases, and comparing this information with federal and Colorado statutes and guidelines which prohibit the purchase of firearms based on certain defined criteria. The CBI denies or approves a purchase based on the best information available at the time of the query in light of this criteria and does not have the discretionary authority to deviate from these requirements.

The CBI Insta Check Appeals Unit

The Appeals Unit works with individuals who are denied the ability to purchase a firearm and appeal to the CBI for reconsideration. The Appeals Unit, upon receiving the appeal, will review the denial and return a response within 30 days. In many cases, the Appeals Unit is able to overturn a denial based on additional information provided by the appellant or obtained by the CBI as a result of the appeals process.

On many occasions the Appeals Unit has been able to work with the appellant to correct or update erroneous or missing information from the record. This may not only result in a reversed denial, but assist in the correction of information which could otherwise have a negative impact on things such as professional licensing, housing, and employment.

The CBI Concealed Handgun Permit Unit

This Unit is charged with conducting fingerprint based background checks to assist Colorado’s Sheriff’s in their role as the issuing authority for Concealed Handgun Permits in the state. Applications for Concealed Handgun Permits are made to the Sheriff of a jurisdiction which will make the final determination as to whether or not to issue a Concealed Handgun Permit to the applicant.

The CBI Insta Check/Concealed Handgun Permit Unit strives to provide the best possible customer service to all parties with whom we interact, in fulfilling this important public safety mandate. We welcome any feedback you may have that would assist us in this goal.

Denial – The Appeal Process – A Two Stage Process

If your application is denied you may appeal the decision, according to state law. Upon denial, you may write a request to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation asking for the exact reason you were denied, and the time, date, and place of the incident that disqualified you. You should your full name, aliases, birth date and social security number. CBI has seven days to return a letter stipulating why you were denied. If the CBI takes longer than seven days it does not mean you will qualify for a purchase. You can proceed to clear your record at that point. Some things are not reversible, such as felonies, or violent crimes.


YOUR NAME: ______________________________SEX:_______RACE:_______

(Print your complete first, middle and last name)

DATE OF BIRTH: ________________________

SOCIAL SECURITY #____________________

Requester’s Mailing Address: ____________________________________

Requester’s Phone Number: _______________________________________

CBI Transaction Number: ________________________

NICS Transaction Number: ________________________

Date of Transaction: _____________________________

I have been denied the purchase of a hand gun or long gun in the State of Colorado based on a check by my gun dealer through the Colorado Instant Check System. I hereby appeal that denial and request a review of the record(s) used by CBI in determining that I should be denied the purchase. I understand that I may be required to provide CBI a full set of inked fingerprints of myself for the purpose of comparing them with fingerprints associated with the record(s) used in the denial. I also understand that I only have 30 days to appeal the denial after it is issued and that CBI is not required to assist me until such time as I formally appeal the denial. I further understand that failure to complete this form or to complete it legibly could result in rejection of the form.

_______________________________ __________________________

(Signature of Requester) (Date)

Return by mail to:

CBI InstaCheck P.O. Box 280629 Denver, CO 80228-0629 FAX 303-239-5848

Instructions for Completing the Appeal of Denial Form

The following procedure should be carefully followed to challenge a denied firearms transfer background check:

  1. If your transaction was denied, obtain your CBI transaction number and NICS number from your FFL (dealer). Legibly print the Transaction and NICS number in the appropriate place on this form. Legibly print the other required information on the form. Include your complete phone number and current mailing address. Make a copy of the form and retain it for your file or future use. You may mail the form to: CBI InstaCheck Unit P.O. Box 280629 Denver, CO 80228-0629
  2. You may also send the form by facsimile (FAX) to 303-239-5848. It should be sent promptly so as to allow CBI ample time to contact the necessary law enforcement agencies and/or clerk’s offices and review any documentation they may provide. Do not expect to hand carry your appeal to the CBI office in order to obtain same day service. By law CBI has 30 calendar days to research and review your attempted firearm transfer after the appeal is received. However, if more than 30 days elapse after the initial denial of transfer and you have not appealed, your appeal window will close and you will need to begin again with a new attempt to purchase, obtain denial and appeal.
  3. Upon receipt of your appeal form, CBI will review the documentation used to make the denial. CBI will contact the arresting agency and request a final disposition of any “open” charges showing on your criminal history record. CBI may also contact the clerk of court and the state bureau of investigation’s records keeping unit for final disposition information if it is unavailable from the arresting agency. If CBI is able to obtain a final disposition or other requiredinformation, you will be notified by mail of any change of status for your transaction and your FFL may be notified as well.
Concealed Handgun Laws In Colorado

In order to carry a concealed handgun in Colorado, you must first complete a training course. The training course may last between four hours and a couple of days, according to Arctic Shooting Supply. After completing the course you are awarded a certificate. According to state law, you take the certificate to your local sheriff’s department and fill out an application to carry a concealed weapon. The sheriff’s department will set an appointment for you to attend. At the appointment, your fingerprints will be taken and you will be asked why the weapon would need to be concealed. The sheriffs department will run another background check. After two to four months you will receive the sheriff’s decision.

Juveniles and Handgun Laws in Colorado

Colorado handgun laws state persons under 18 may be in possession of a handgun in certain conditions. If a situation arises where the conditions do not exist, a juvenile will be charged with a class two misdemeanor for the first offense and a class five misdemeanor for any subsequent violations. A juvenile may have a handgun in his possession while attending a hunter’s safety course or other gun course or a gun competition, but a handgun cannot be registered to a juvenile

The Basic Laws – Q and A

This section is taken from the Colorado State Patrol Website

What are Colorado’s laws concerning firearms?

Colorado allows a person to carry a firearm in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, if its use is for lawful protection of such person or another’s person or property. [C.R.S. 18-12-105(2)]

Colorado law also allows a person to possess a handgun in a dwelling, place of business, or automobile. However, you cannot carry the weapon concealed on or about your person while transporting it into your home, business, hotel room, etc.

Local jurisdictions may not enact laws that restrict a person’s ability to travel with a weapon. [C.R.S. 18-12-105.6]

The Act permits the nationwide carrying of concealed handguns by qualified current and retired law enforcement officers and amends the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Pub. L. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213) to exempt qualified current and retired law enforcement officers from state and local laws prohibiting the carry of concealed firearms.

How do I Obtain a Concealed Weapon Permit?

A permit to carry a concealed weapon may be obtained through the Sheriff of the county in which you live. You must meet certain requirements to qualify for the permit. [C.R.S. 18-12-203] Consult your local Sheriff’s Department for more information obtaining a permit. The permit and a valid photo identification must be carried with the handgun at all times. A permit is not required and a handgun is not considered concealed when a person is in a private automobile or other private transportation. [C.R.S. 18-12-105 (2)]

What is the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act?

The Act permits the nationwide carrying of concealed handguns by qualified current and retired law enforcement officers and amends the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Pub. L. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213) to exempt qualified current and retired law enforcement officers from state and local laws prohibiting the carry of concealed firearms. To apply for Retired Commissioned Officers Firearms Training, click here.

Am I required to register my weapon in the State of Colorado?

The State of Colorado prohibits gun registration. CRS 29-11.7-102

If I’m Traveling Through Colorado With a Weapon, can I Have it in my Vehicle?

Colorado law allows a person to carry a firearm in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, if its use is for lawful protection of such a person or another’s person or property. [C.R.S. 18-12-105 {2}]. Colorado law allows a person to possess a handgun in a dwelling, place of business, or automobile. However, you cannot carry the weapon concealed on or about your person while transporting it into your home, business, hotel room, etc. Local jurisdictions may not enact laws that restrict a person’s ability to travel with a weapon [C.R.S. 18-12-105.6].

Is it Legal to Carry a Weapon in Colorado National Forests?

While visiting National Forests in Colorado, you may carry a weapon. However, in addition to state laws, you must comply with Federal Regulations pertaining to the use of a firearm on National Forest System lands.

A firearm may not be discharged in the following National Forest areas:

  1. Within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area; or
  2. Across or on a Forest Development road or an adjacent body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge; or
  3. Into or within any cave. [36 CFR 261.10 (d)]

Some forest or districts have additional restrictions on discharging a firearm. You are advised to check with the authorities in the areas you will be visiting.

What is Colorado’s Out of State Permit Reciprocity?

A permit to carry a concealed weapon that is issued to a person (who is at least 21 years of age) by another state will be considered valid in Colorado if the other state, in turn, recognized Colorado’s concealed handgun permits. [C.R.S. 18-12-105.6] Check Colorado’s reciprocity with other states.

The Insta Check Unit is responsible for ensuring proper procedures along with state and federal guidelines are adhered to and followed by all citizens wishing to purchase a firearm. The InstaCheck Unit performs comprehensive background investigations into each and every firearm purchase, as well as review all concealed weapon permit applications, helping to promote gun safety within the State of Colorado. For Additional Information about the services provided by the InstaCheck please visit the “Available Resources” link in the left navigation bar. Thank you for visiting the CBI InstaCheck.

Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.

NICS is located at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia . It provides full service to FFLs in 30 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Upon completion of the required Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, FFLs contact the NICS Section via a toll-free telephone number or electronically on the Internet through the NICS E-Check System to request a background check with the descriptive information provided on the ATF Form 4473. NICS is customarily available 17 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays (except for Christmas).

Where Can I Get a Disposition If it Is Not Posted to My CBI Record?

You can get copies of your dispositions from for a nominal fee. These records are also available from the courts in which you appeared. If your case never went to court, you may be able to get the records from the arresting agency itself (the police department or sheriff’s office) or the district attorney’s office in the jurisdiction where you were arrested.

See: Gun Law FAQs for an excellent listing of all Colorado and National Gun Laws Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

Also – one of Colorado’s foremost experts in this area is David Kopel – see his excellent article by clicking on this link.

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