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 Federal law requires federally licensed firearm dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Colorado is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In Colorado, all firearm transfers by licensed dealers are processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which enforces federal, as well as state, purchaser prohibitions.2

Colorado requires CBI to transmit a request for a background check in connection with the prospective transfer of a firearm to the NICS system and authorizes CBI to search other databases. CBI must deny a transfer of a firearm to a prospective transferee if the transfer would violate federal or state law.3

Colorado law provides that an application for a firearm purchase must be denied in cases in which there has been no final disposition or the final disposition is not noted in the NICS or state databases, where the applicant: 1) has been arrested for or charged with a crime that would prohibit him or her from purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law; or 2) is the subject of an indictment, an information, or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.4 However, whenever a person is denied, he or she may request a review of the denial, and the bureau has 30 days to render a final administrative decision regarding the denial.5 If the bureau is unable to obtain the final disposition of a case that is no longer pending within the 30 day period, the dealer may proceed with the transfer.6

Colorado law explicitly provides access to juvenile delinquency court and probation records for firearm background check purposes.7 Colorado law also provides procedures for appeal of a denial of a firearm transfer.8

CBI must adopt rules to carry out these duties.9 CBI must also charge a fee for performing a background check. The funds that are collected pursuant to this provision are subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly for the direct costs associated with performing background checks.10

Colorado requires unlicensed sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See the Universal Background Checks in Colorado section and, for more general information about background check laws, see our Universal Background Checks policy summary.


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  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at and[]
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2).[]
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a).[]
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(b).[]
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5)(b).[]
  6. Id.[]
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-304(1)(a)(VII.5), (1)(c)(II.5), (2)(a)(II.5).[]
  8. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5).[]
  9. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(7). See 8 Colo. Code Regs. § 1507-20.[]
  10. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3.5).[]