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Legal Information: Colorado

State Gun Laws

Laws current as of October 13, 2023

I do not have an order of protection against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

Under Colorado state law, if an adult is not otherwise prohibited from having a gun because of a protection order or certain convictions, generally s/he can have handguns and long rifles without a special permit. Furthermore, those firearms can be openly carried, with a few exceptions.1

Colorado law also allows an adult to have a gun without a permit, even if it’s concealed, if the person is on his/her own property, in his/her home or place of business, or in a private car or vehicle.2 Any gun other than a pistol or revolver that’s in a car is supposed to be unloaded.3

However, a permit is required to carry a concealed handgun anywhere else.4 Even if you don’t have a protective order that prohibits the abuser from having a gun and the abuser has not been convicted of any crime, s/he will still be denied a state permit to carry a concealed handgun if s/he:

  • is not a legal resident of Colorado;
  • is younger than twenty-one years of age;
  • chronically and habitually abuses alcohol unless a substance abuse counselor swears that the person is in recovery and has been sober for at least three years;
  • unlawfully uses or is addicted to drugs;
  • has an extreme risk protection order against him/her; or
  • fails to demonstrate competence with a handgun.5 

Note: Even if someone applying for a concealed carry permit meets all of the eligibility requirements, the sheriff may still deny the permit if, based on the applicant’s previous behavior, the sheriff has a reasonable belief that s/he would likely be a danger to himself/herself or others if the permit were granted.6

Also, a person under 18 is not allowed to possess a gun at any time unless s/he is on land that is controlled by his/her parent, legal guardian, or grandparent and the minor has the adult’s permission. There are some exceptions when a minor can carry a gun, such as when hunting.7 To read the complete list of prohibitions and exceptions, go to our Selected Colorado Statutes page and see section 18-12-108.5.

If the abuser is allowed to have a gun, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long-term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.

For additional information on gun laws in Colorado, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun under other circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-105.5
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-105(2)(a), (2)(b)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-6-125
4 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-12-105(1)(b), (2)(c); 18-12-214; 18-12-203
5 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(1)(a), (1)(b), (1)(e), (1)(f), (1)(g)(IV), (1)(h)
6 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(2)
7 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108.5

The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

Colorado state law says it is illegal for someone to possess a firearm if s/he is on probation after being convicted of a crime that involved domestic violence. However, an exception can be made for someone whose job requires the use of a firearm if the judge believes that the victim and his/her child would not be endangered and the gun is not stored in the defendant’s home.1

For more information, you may want to talk with a domestic violence advocate in your area.  To find one, please go to our CO Advocates and Shelters page.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-204(2)(b)(IV)

I read through all of this information and I'm still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see our CO Advocates and Shelters page.