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Gun possession prohibitions for people convicted of domestic violence crimes or subject to restraining orders

Colorado law incorporates federal law prohibiting the purchase or possession of a firearm or ammunition by people subject to certain domestic violence protective orders or convicted of certain domestic violence crimes.1 Upon sentencing of people convicted of felonies and domestic violence misdemeanors, Colorado law requires courts to issue an order instructing the defendant to refrain from possessing or purchasing any firearm or ammunition for the duration of the order; and relinquish any firearm or ammunition subject to the defendant’s immediate possession or control.2 People subject to these prohibitions are also subject to the federal law. Colorado law does not, however cover people convicted of violent misdemeanors against a dating partner or subject to a protective order obtained by a dating partner.

Notably, Colorado requires a protective order to be issued whenever a criminal case is pending to prohibit the defendant from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged. In domestic violence cases, this protective order may trigger the federal law, meaning that the person is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition while the case is pending.3 The court may prohibit the defendant from possessing firearms during this time, even in some cases when the federal law is not triggered.4

Colorado law also prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm or ammunition by anyone subject to a temporary civil protection order.5 Such orders may be issued “ex parte” (without a full hearing) in certain circumstances.6

Possession of a firearm or ammunition in violation of a court order is a punishable offense.7

Relinquishment procedures

Colorado law sets forth procedures for people subject to domestic violence related firearm restrictions to relinquish firearms and ammunition already owned at the time they become prohibited from possession. The law generally requires the person to relinquish firearms and ammunition not more than 24 – 48 hours of being served with a qualifying order or sentencing. If the person is held in the custody of a law enforcement agency, the relinquishment must occur within 24 hours of release. Within seven business days, the person must file an affidavit with the court listing the firearms and ammunition they possess or their lack of firearms and ammunition.

The person may sell or transfer firearms and ammunition to a federally licensed gun dealer, law enforcement or a contracted agency for storage, or private party who does not reside with the person. A law enforcement agency that elects to store a firearm or ammunition is required to obtain a search warrant to examine or test the firearm or ammunition or facilitate a criminal investigation if a law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe the firearm or ammunition has been used in the commission of a crime, is stolen, or is contraband.

The federally licensed gun dealer who purchases or facilitates a private party transfer of the firearms or ammunition, or the agency accepting the transfer, must issue a receipt to the person and sign a declaration memorializing the transfer. The person must file the declaration with the court. The court that issues the order or sentences the defendant must set a compliance hearing between eight and 12 business days after the order is issued or the defendant is sentenced to ensure the person has relinquished firearms and ammunition. If a court determines that there is probable cause to believe the respondent has failed to relinquish all firearms, ammunition, or a concealed carry permit, the court shall issue a search warrant that states with particularity the places to be searched and the items to be taken into custody. Prior to returning a firearm or ammunition to a respondent or defendant, a federally licensed gun dealer or law enforcement agency must conduct a background check to ensure the person is legally able to possess firearms.8

When a person is released from prison or other custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections following a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, the Department is required to submit a written statement to the inmate notifying him or her that it is a crime if he or she possesses or uses a firearm.9

Colorado does not explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

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  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5, 18-1-1001(9), 18-6-801(8).[]
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6-801(8).[]
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1-1001(9).[]
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1-1001(3)(c).[]
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(11).[]
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5.[]
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6-803.5(1)(c).[]
  8. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5, 18-1-1001(9), 18-6-801(8).[]
  9. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108(6)(c)(I).[]