Guest Column: Colorado Gun Laws

Nicholas St. John 

     A mass shooter walked into King Soopers in Boulder and started killing indiscriminately on March 22, 2021. We, as Student Government Senators, want to do our part to help provide information to our fellow students. 

     In Colorado, you can be 18 years old to purchase a long gun such as a hunting rifle, however, you must be 21 to purchase all handguns. All gun purchasers must go through both a state and federal background check before the sale can proceed. Additionally, all private transfers of firearms must go through the approval of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before becoming finalized. The only exception to this rule is when the firearm is antique or is received as a gift from a family member or friend.  

     It is also important to note that it is illegal to purchase machine guns, short rifles/shotguns, and any gun which has been altered in a way that makes it unidentifiable. It is illegal to own or sell armor piercing ammunition as a civilian. It also illegal to purchase or own large capacity (15+ rounds) magazines in the state. Finally, certain cities within our state also ban assault weapons along with these accessories, most notably Denver. 

     An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), our red flag law, allows courts to prohibit individuals from possessing or purchasing a firearm for a brief period if they are seen as being at risk of enacting gun violence on themselves or others. As a part of this law, law enforcement can legally confiscate any firearms the individual owns if it goes along with the court’s decision. The requests for these orders are often brought before a Judge by individuals who are close to the citizen who has created the risk. The list of individuals who can request ERPO’s includes spouses, relatives, and legal guardians. 

     Any non-felonious adult can open carry any gun, with magazines at or below 15 rounds, without a permit. Denver County is a big exception, as they have banned any open carrying. In the rest of the state, open carrying is widely permitted, and only restricted on Federal property, at schools, at universities, and at any private property with signage. At public transportation facilities your open carry weapon must be unloaded.  

     Concealed carry outside of your home, business, or car, requires a concealed carry permit. If you have a concealed carry permit from another state it may work in Colorado if you are 21 depending on the state. You may carry a handgun concealed on campus if you have a permit. If anyone sees it, you are breaking the law. If you live on campus, you must notify Residence Life and Housing and campus police. If it is a long gun, you must check it in with Public Safety. If you reside on campus, have a permit, and have a handgun, Residence Life and Housing will provide a safe for you to keep it in your room when it is not on your person. 

     We advise you to do your own independent research. Gun laws can change at the federal, state, and local level, so if you do plan on purchasing a gun, selling a gun, carrying a gun, using a gun, applying red flag laws, or helping during a shooting, be sure to periodically check the news and government websites for updates and/or changes to existing laws. For example, Colorado just passed a law requiring safe storage of guns at home that will go into effect soon. Please come to a senate meeting if you want to discuss things further.