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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.
  • If the prospective transferee has been convicted after June 19, 2021 of any of the following offenses if the offense is classified as a misdemeanor within five years prior to the transfer:

(i) assault in the third degree, as described in section 18-3-204;

(ii) sexual assault, as described in section 18-3-402 (1)(e);

(iii) unlawful sexual contact, as described in section 18-3-404;

(iv) child abuse, as described in section 18-6-401;

(v) violation of a protection order, as described in section 18-6-803.5 (1)(a) and (1)(c)(i);

(vi) a crime against an at-risk person, as described in section 18-6.5-103;

(vii) harassment, as described in section 18-9-111 (1)(a);

(viii) a bias-motivated crime, as described in section 18-9-121;

(ix) cruelty to animals, as described in section 18-9-202 (1)(a) and (1.5);

(x) possession of an illegal weapon, as described in section 18-12-102 (4); or

(xi) unlawfully providing a firearm other than a handgun to a juvenile, as described in section 18-12-108.7 (3).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 certain felonies specified in section 24-4.1-302(1) (effective Oct. 1, 2021. Previously, Colorado prohibited gun possession by all people convicted of felonies), or an attempt or conspiracy to commit an enumerated 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 enumerated in section 24-4.1-302(1) (effective Oct. 1, 2021), or an attempt or conspiracy to commit an enumerated 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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  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a), (b), (b.3).[]
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14.5-111.[]
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108(1), (3).[]