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Colorado Open Carry Law


This article is meant to take a look at Colorado’s open carry laws so that you folks can get a better idea what is and is not legal in the state.

The state of Colorado protects the right to bear arms under Article II, Section 13 of its state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. Colorado requires a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed outside of the dwelling or car (personal transportation). A permit, however, does not authorize a person to use a firearm in a manner that would violate a provision of state law. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-214.)

A permit is not required to carry a handgun where carrying firearms is legal, if the handgun is not concealed.  A handgun is not considered concealed if it is in the possession of a person who is in a private automobile or if the person is carrying it through an approved or legal use, such as hunting. Exempt from the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed handgun are peace officers of Colorado, U.S. probation officers, law enforcement officers employed by jurisdiction outside of the state, and retired peace officers.

However legal it may be to have a handgun inside of an automobile, it is unlawful to have a firearm other than a handgun in or on any motor vehicle unless the chamber is unloaded.   It is also unlawful to carry or possess a firearm without legal authority on the property of, or within any government building in. It is unlawful to possess, without legal authority, a firearm in or on the real estate of any school, college, university, or seminary, with some exceptions.

Now, there are certainly additional questions as well as more in-depth looks into such things as who is not allowed to possess a gun, and what public places do or do not allow them. We will be going over those in specific articles, later on, due to the complexity of some of the situations. For right now, however, we have a wonderful FAQ page on our Colorado site with a lot of helpful information.

If you have specific questions that you would like covered in future articles about Colorado’s open carry laws, shoot us a comment below, and we will make sure to add them to future reports.

Information compounded from the NRA and Colorado state legal texts.


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6 Responses to Colorado Open Carry Law

  1. Shannon November 23, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    Is it legal to open carry and conceal carry in Colorado? I do have my CCW.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 23, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

      Shannon, I’m surprised you obtained your permit without learning the answer to this question. You might consider retaking the required class to get additional information about State laws.

      It is legal to open carry in most parts of Colorado with or without a permit. There are exceptions as regulated by city and county governments.

      It is legal to carry concealed with a permit in most places in Colorado as well.

      • DV Layne February 24, 2018 at 8:57 am #

        Jacob, what places would be permissible in CO to open carry? Grocery stores? Department stores? Taking a walk in your neighborhood? I’m obtaining a CCW from AZ, but am moving to CO. My purpose for wanting to carry is personal protection – and to be prepared to protect others. Can you help me understand where, in my normal empty-nester soccer-mom lifestyle I can and cannot open carry a handgun?

        • Jacob Paulsen February 24, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

          DV, in short open carry is legal everywhere with few exceptions. The primary exception to be aware of is the city/county of Denver. Open carry is 100% prohibited in Denver. Other cities and counties have some limited restrictions that may include parks, city buildings, or trails. Creating an exhaustive list isn’t a great use of time. Frankly, get a concealed carry permit and carry concealed. Then you don’t have to worry about where you can or can’t open carry. Once you live in Colorado, your AZ permit will no longer be valid here. CO law says that CO residents must have a CO permit. So when you arrive plan to take a class from a local instructor (like us!) and get your Colorado permit.

  2. Ken Dixwan May 28, 2018 at 8:50 pm #

    Sir: Please explain what constitutes open carry of a weapon in non prohibited venues. Understanding that a openly holstered weapon is the norm, with say the last 1/3 of the rearward portion of the frame showing in addition to the grip exposed. Say if a large framed hand gun is temporarily placed in a front jeans-type pair of britches with exactly the same amount of frame/grip area as the scenario as in the above holster example, is the handgun in reality also then, open carry?
    No definition seems to clarify this visibility issue, as an example: if one needed to visit one’s truck briefly parked on the street in front of the house, in Colo Spgs, infested with a potential, historical, known threat.
    Calling the popos for protection since they are not required to serve and protect you individually, per the Supremes, is not a realistic solution.
    Thanks kindly.

    • Jacob Paulsen May 31, 2018 at 9:44 am #

      Ken, the key is in understanding how the state of Colorado defines concealed carry because anything that doesn’t meet the definition of concealed is considered open carry. There is no third scenario. Guns are either open or concealed. In Colorado, the definition of concealed is “placed out of sight so as not to be discernible or apparent by ordinary observation.” So in your example, I have to ask, do you think carrying a firearm like that is discernible or apparent by ordinary observation?

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