Vail Daily column: Understanding Colorado’s gun laws

Editor’s note: This article is the first of two parts.

There is a paradox in Colorado.

Even as new concealed carry permit applications have recently soared, some claim that Colorado now has some of the most — if not the most — restrictive guns laws in the nation. The two may be related.

If you’ve been keeping score, there are two state Senate recall elections imminently poised to flower. Along with Sen. Angela Giron, president of the state Senate — and former police chief — John Morse will have to defend to their respective constituencies why they each endorsed the new restrictive scheme.

Support Local Journalism

Colorful Colorado, which to much of the nation epitomizes the once Wild, Wild West, is now in many eyes, the Mild West. But after Columbine and then Aurora there are those who simply say, “Who can really blame us? Something had to be done.”

Regardless what side of the barbed wire fence you stand on, one thing is clear, as of 2013, with the new additions to the law, if not exactly a new sheriff in town, there are, to be sure, at least a passel of laws in this state affecting one’s right to bear and carry arms.

In part one of this short series, we will look at the new laws as well as some of the more basic laws they joined. In the second part, we explore the more esoteric — such as machine ownership — affecting Colorado residents.

Two new gun bills went into effect mid-summer. The bills provide for universal background checks and a ban on “high capacity” ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

While contentious, and the subject of at least one major pending lawsuit, the new restrictions join many other existing laws, rules and regulations.

Effective March 20, Colorado residents began paying a $10 fee for the transfer of a firearm. There is no state permit required for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or handgun.

Dealers are required to keep a record on the retail sale, rental, or exchange of handguns. The record must include the name of the person to whom the handgun is transferred, his or her age, occupation, and residence, and the make, caliber, finish and serial number of the handgun.

It must also include the date of the transfer and name of employee making the transfer. The vendor is required to keep a record book which shall be open at all times to the inspection of any duly authorized police officer.

As mentioned above, effective July 1 of this year, universal background checks are required of all private sales. What this means is that before a gun show vendor transfers or attempts to transfer a firearm, he or she shall require that a background check (in accordance with the national instant criminal background check system) be conducted of the prospective transferee. The vendor must obtain approval of the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before the transaction may take place.

A Colorado resident who is otherwise qualified can purchase or receive delivery of a rifle or shotgun in a state contiguous to Colorado, so long as the sale fully complies with the legal conditions of sale in both states and the purchaser and seller have complied with federal law applicable to interstate transactions.

Beginning July 1, it became unlawful to possess, sell or transfer a “large capacity magazine.” The definition of a “large capacity magazine” includes those magazines or any devices that are fixed or detachable and can hold more than 15 rounds or be readily converted to hold more than 15 rounds.

A shotgun may not accept more than eight shotgun shells, or hold more than 28 inches of shotgun shells in an extension device. A .22 caliber rimfire rifle that can hold more than 15 rounds in a fixed tubular magazine is not included as a “large capacity magazine.”

It is unlawful for any person convicted of a felony or conspiracy or attempt to commit a felony, or misdemeanor domestic violence or adjudicated delinquent for a felony to possess a firearm.

It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess a handgun. Similarly, it is unlawful to provide or permit a juvenile to possess a handgun, with exceptions for attendance at a hunter’s or firearms safety course, engaging in lawful target shooting or hunting with a valid license, or traveling with an unloaded handgun to or from any of these activities. A juvenile may however possess a handgun while on real property under the control of the juvenile’s parent, legal guardian or grandparent and who has the permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a handgun.

In the next part, we will look at “concealed carry” laws, laws affecting the ownership and possession of machine guns, what constitutes replicas and antiques, the concept of “preemption” and various related gun-related miscellanea.

Until, then … be safe out there … whether you are armed or otherwise.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddision, Tharp and Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) and seen on ECOTV 18 as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at either of his email addresses, or

Support Local Journalism