Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is required to deny the transfer of a firearm when:
- The transfer would violate federal law;
- The transfer would violate Colorado law;
- The transferee 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, and there has been no final disposition of the case or the final disposition has not been noted in the databases searched by CBI during a firearm transferee’s background check; or
- The transferee is the subject of an indictment, information or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year as defined by federal law.1
Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Law, enacted in 2019, also prohibits people subject to an ERPO from purchasing or possessing firearms.2
Colorado law also prohibits any person from knowingly possessing, using, or carrying upon his or her person a firearm subsequent to:
- The person’s conviction for a felony, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state’s law or under federal law; or
- The person’s adjudication for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state’s law or under federal law.3
For information on domestic violence related firearm prohibitions, see Domestic Violence and Firearms in Colorado.
Firearm transfers by unlicensed sellers (non-firearms dealers) are subject to background checks in Colorado.
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- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a), (b).
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14.5-111.
- Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108(1), (3).