Colorado enacted a law in 2013 to remove guns from the hands of domestic abusers.  The law incorporates the federal law that prohibits 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 The law covers both domestic violence misdemeanants and felons by requiring the court to issue a prohibitive order upon sentencing.2  Abusers subject to these prohibitions are also subject to the federal law.  This law does not 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 Under an older provision, the court may prohibit the defendant from possessing firearms during this time, even in some cases when the federal law is not triggered.4

The 2013 law also includes a provision prohibiting 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

The law makes possession of a firearm or ammunition during these protective orders punishable as a violation of the protective orders.7

The 2013 law also set forth a procedure for domestic abusers to surrender firearms and ammunition that they already own when they become subject to a protective order that triggers the federal law or a court issues an order upon conviction for a domestic violence offense.  The law generally requires the person to surrender firearms and ammunition not more than 24 hours of being served with a qualifying order, subject to certain exceptions, to any person who has undergone a background check.  If the person is held in the custody of a law enforcement agency, the surrender must occur within 24 hours of release. The person must file a receipt demonstrating that firearms and ammunition have been surrendered with the court within three business days of the surrender. The law includes extensive provisions to protect law enforcement’s decision to store, or not store, firearms or ammunition on behalf of a protective order defendant.8

Under an older provision, when an inmate 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.

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  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). ⤴︎