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 law explicitly provides access to juvenile delinquency court and probation records for firearm background check purposes.3
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.4 Colorado law also provides procedures for appeal of a denial of a firearm transfer.5
CBI must adopt rules to carry out these duties.6 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.7
In 2021, Colorado closed the Charleston Loophole by making it unlawful for a licensed gun dealer to transfer a firearm to a transferee until the dealer has obtained approval for the firearms transfer from CBI after CBI has completed any background check required by state or federal law.8
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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- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/nics-participation-map.pdf/view and https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-state-lists.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-304(1)(a)(VII.5), (1)(c)(II.5), (2)(a)(II.5).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(7). See 8 Colo. Code Regs. § 1507-20.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3.5).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112.5.