Colorado is one of 31 open carry states in the U.S. That means that adults can openly carry legal firearms in the state, with some exceptions and as long as they comply with Colorado gun laws.

Like all firearms statutes in the state, Colorado open carry laws can be complex. They can also be punishing to those who fail to comply with these gun laws.

Whether you are looking to better understand open carry laws in Colorado or you have been charged with violating these statutes, here is the most important information to know. To get answers and advice specific to your situation, contact a 5-star criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.

Who Is Prohibited from Openly Carrying a Gun in Colorado?

Colorado law generally allows for openly carrying legal firearms as long as an individual is not specifically prohibited by law from doing so. Prohibited individuals include felons, fugitives, the subjects of protective orders that bar firearm possession, and others.

Additionally, Coloradans are generally prohibited from openly carrying a gun if or when:

  • They are on school grounds or federal property, including in courthouses and post offices.
  • They are in a public transportation facility with a loaded gun.
  • They are carrying an illegal firearm, like a short-barrel shotgun or a machine gun.

If I Have a Colorado Concealed Carry Permit, Can I Openly Carry a Weapon?

Open carry and concealed carry (CCW) are two different things. Your rights to or prohibitions from open carry will exist, regardless of a concealed carry permit, because Colorado is an open-carry state. So, if you are not barred under state statute from openly carrying a firearm, you can do so without obtaining a concealed carry permit.

Now, if you do obtain a CCW permit in Colorado—or a CCW permit from one of the 35 states which with Colorado shares a reciprocity agreement—you can carry a legal weapon hidden on your person in any location that is not prohibited by state law.

With CCWs permits and concealed carry laws in Colorado, it’s also crucial to be aware that:

  • Under state law, a CCW permit can be issued to any resident who is 21 or older and who is not otherwise barred by law from owning a gun.
  • Denver is the one exception throughout Colorado where open carry has been banned. This prohibition was enacted under the authority of the Colorado “home rule” law.

What is the Colorado “Home Rule” Law?

The Colorado Home Rule Law (C.R.S. 29-11.7-104) is a statute that allows local jurisdictions to prohibit open or concealed carry in specific areas or buildings, so long as:

  • Local ordinances do not conflict with state or federal law.
  • Signs warning about the prohibition are clearly posted at the area’s public entrances.

Denver is currently the only jurisdiction in Colorado to exercise the Home Rule law and enact a ban on carrying or wearing “any dangerous firearm,” including assault weapons. This ban even held up under legal challenges.

Crucially, the Colorado Home Rule Law and Denver gun bans do not impact the right to own or carry legal firearms on private property, as long as there is compliance with all other application Colorado gun laws.

What Are the Penalties for Violating Colorado Open Carry Laws?

Criminal charges and the possibility of penalties can come into play when someone is accused of:

  • Openly carrying an illegal firearm
  • Carrying a firearm when you are legally prohibited from doing so

Charges and associated penalties for these offenses, detailed in the table below, will vary by priors.

Offense Criminal Charge Jail or Prison Time Fines
1st Offense

Carrying a Prohibited Weapon

Class 2 misdemeanor 3 to 12 mos. (jail) $250 to $1,000
2nd Offense

Carrying a Prohibited Weapon (within 5 years of 1st offense)

Class 5 felony 1 to 3 years (prison) $1,000 to $100,000
1st Offense

Unlawful Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon

Class 6 felony 12 to 18 mos. (prison) $1,000 to $100,000

Here, it’s also important to note that:

  • Prior convictions of certain crimes, including any felony involving the use of a deadly weapon, can elevate the severity of the charges and the penalties that may be on the line.
  • A firearm does NOT need to be capable of discharging ammunition in order for Colorado gun laws and prohibitions to apply. In other words, a convicted felon can be charged with unlawful possession of a weapon even if the gun in question can’t be fired.
  • As serious as gun offenses and penalties can be in Colorado, there can be many ways to defend against these charges. The best way to understand the charges against you and how to fight them is by contacting a defense lawyer.

Accused of a Gun Offense in Colorado Springs? Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.

If you or a loved one has been accused of violating open carry or other gun laws in Colorado, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who knows the law and can help you fight the allegations. You need a Colorado Springs defense lawyer at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.

As former prosecutors with more than 30 years of criminal trial experience, we are skilled at crafting strong, strategic defense cases for all types of gun and weapons charges. Find out more about your rights, your defense options, and how we can help you by contacting us today.

Call (719) 259-5082 or Email Us for a Free, Confidential Consultation

We are available 24/7 to answer your questions, help you understand the process, and defend you and your rights. We can meet you and/or a loved one at our Colorado Springs office or jail. We can also discuss your case over the phone.

At Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C., our goal is to show the district attorney that you are a person and not just a case file. No matter how serious the gun charges are—or whether you have prior convictions—we understand that your case is the most important thing in your life, and we will work relentlessly to bring it to the best possible resolution.