Colorado does not prohibit a person from carrying a concealed handgun in public if the person has a permit.1
Colorado is a “shall issue” state, meaning that a sheriff must issue a permit to carry a concealed handgun if an applicant meets certain qualifications.2 Colorado provides sheriffs some discretion in issuing or denying such licenses, however. Even if an applicant meets the criteria to obtain a “shall issue” permit (listed below), the sheriff may deny the permit if the sheriff has a reasonable belief that documented behavior by the applicant makes it likely the applicant will present a danger to himself, herself or others if the applicant receives a permit.3
The sheriff shall issue a permit to an applicant who:
- Is a legal resident of the state of Colorado;
- Is age 21 or older;
- Is not ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant state4 or federal law;
- Has not been convicted of perjury under state law, in relation to information provided or deliberately omitted on a concealed handgun permit application;
- Does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages to the extent that the applicant’s normal faculties are impaired;5
- Is not an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance as defined under state law;
- Is not subject to a: 1) protection order issued under state law6 and in effect at the time the application is submitted; 2) permanent protection order issued pursuant to state law; or 3) temporary protection order issued pursuant to state law that is in effect at the time the application is submitted;7 and
- Demonstrates competence with a handgun by one of several statutorily-authorized methods (for details, see the Firearm Safety Training subsection below).8
A sheriff may also issue a “temporary emergency permit to carry a concealed handgun” to an individual whom the sheriff has reason to believe may be in immediate danger.9 The criteria to obtain the permit are similar to those of the non-emergency permit, except that no evidence of competence with a handgun is required and the applicant need only be age 18 or older.10 The emergency permit is valid for 90 days from the date of issuance and may be renewed only once. However, if the permittee is less than 21 years of age, the sheriff can renew the permit until the permittee reaches 21 years of age.11
Firearm Safety Training
Applicants for a Colorado permit to carry a concealed handgun must demonstrate competence with a handgun by submitting evidence of completion of one of the following:
- Evidence of experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competitions or current military service;
- Evidence that, at the time the application is submitted, the applicant is a certified instructor;12
- Proof of honorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. armed forces within the three years preceding submittal of the application;
- Proof of honorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. armed forces that reflects pistol qualifications obtained within the 10 years preceding submittal of the application;
- A certificate showing retirement from a Colorado law enforcement agency that reflects pistol qualifications obtained within the 10 years preceding submittal of the application; or
- A training certificate from a handgun training class obtained within the 10 years preceding submittal of the application. The applicant shall submit the original training certificate or a photocopy thereof that includes the original signature of the class instructor. In obtaining a training certificate from a handgun training class, the applicant shall have discretion in selecting which handgun training class to complete.13
“Handgun training class” means:
- A law enforcement training firearms safety course;
- A firearms safety course offered by a law enforcement agency, an institution of higher education, or a public or private institution or organization or firearms training school, that is open to the general public and is taught by a certified instructor; or
- A firearms safety course or class that is offered and taught by a certified instructor.14
Colorado law prevents a person from fulfilling this requirement through an online course, or any course that does not require the person to be at a physical location with a certified instructor.15
Duration & Renewal
A Colorado permit to carry a concealed handgun is valid for five years.16 To renew a permit, the permittee must submit an application which requires the same information required for the original permit, including fingerprints.17 After six months from its expiration date, a permit is considered permanently expired and cannot be renewed. Persons whose permits are permanently expired must reapply for a permit.18
Disclosure or Use of Information
Local sheriffs in Colorado must keep a list of persons to whom permits have been issued and may share the information with law enforcement for the purpose of determining the validity of a permit.19 A sheriff cannot share information from the list of permittees with other law enforcement for the purpose of creating a statewide database of permittees, and any law enforcement agency that receives information concerning permittees from a sheriff shall not use the information to create or maintain a database of permittees.20 The Colorado Bureau of Investigation may only use an applicant’s fingerprints to obtain information for sheriffs for the purpose of granting or revoking a permit.21
A permit to carry a concealed handgun issued in a state that recognizes Colorado concealed handgun permits is valid in Colorado if the permit is issued to a person age 21 or older who is either: 1) a resident of the state that issued the permit; or 2) a resident of Colorado for no more than 90 days.22
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- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-214.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(1).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(2), (3).
- See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108 for state weapons prohibitions by criminal offenders.
- This prohibition does not apply to an applicant who provides an affidavit, signed by a professional counselor or addiction counselor licensed under state law and specializing in alcohol addiction, stating that the applicant has been evaluated by the counselor and has been determined to be a recovering alcoholic who has refrained from using alcohol for at least three years. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(1)(e)(II).
- See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1-1001 or § 19-2-707 for protection order provisions.
- See Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-101 – 13-14-104 for information on permanent and temporary civil protection orders.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(1).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-209.
- Id., Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension and disqualification information, are detailed under Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-12-203(3)(a), 18-12-205.
- “Certified instructor” means an instructor for a firearms safety course who is certified as a firearms instructor by: a county, municipal, state, or federal law enforcement agency; the peace officers standards and training board; a federal military agency; or a national nonprofit organization that certifies firearms instructors, operates national firearms competitions, and provides training, including courses in personal protection, in small arms safety, use, and marksmanship. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-202(2).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203(1)(h).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-202(5).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-204(1)(b).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-211.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-206(3)(a).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-206(3)(b).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-208(2).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-213.