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colorado ccw

Colorado Concealed Carry Regulations

Whether the individual is new to the state or to the practice, it’s important to understand that Colorado concealed carry regulations require a permit (with some exceptions) in order to legally carry a concealed handgun.

However, it’s a “shall issue” state, meaning the permit applicant just needs to fulfill the requirements established within the state’s various firearms statutes.

Although it seems like a chore, the application for a Colorado concealed handgun permit isn’t too difficult to start.

Colorado CCW Permit Process

colorado ccw permit

To get started on a Colorado concealed carry permit, the applicant needs to prepare a few items for the application packet, which is to be submitted in person to the sheriff in the county they reside in.

There will be fees — established in Colorado Revised Statutes 18-12-205 not to exceed $100. The total cost is then up to the individual’s county sheriff to determine the appropriate fee within that restraint.

Applicants must show competence with a handgun by providing a training certification (or photocopy of it) from a state-recognized instructor. The class must be taken within ten years of submitting the application.

There are exemptions to that requirement for retired Colorado law enforcement personnel with a pistol training certification within the prior ten years and for honorably discharged Armed Forces personnel who either left their respective branch within the prior three years of application submission or have proof of pistol training within the prior ten years of application submission.

The applicant must show proof of Colorado residency — especially important given that Colorado House Bill 14-1166 requires one to submit their application in person to the sheriff (who is required to witness the applicant sign the application) in the county they reside in, or in a secondary county where they own property or lease property for business.

The county sheriff’s office will take copies of the applicant’s fingerprints once the application is filled out. The application itself is provided by the sheriff, often online. The fingerprints will be ran against databases like the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to determine legal eligibility.

According to C.R.S. 18-12-203, there are a few more criteria the applicant must fulfill.

  • They must be 21 years old.
  • They must be eligible to own a firearm under C.R.S. 18-12-108.
  • They must not be ineligible to own a firearm under federal law.
  • They cannot have committed perjury by omitting information in a permit application.
  • Their alcohol consumption cannot impact their normal functions.
  • They must not be an unlawful user of controlled substances — an important consideration given that, despite recreational marijuana being legalized in Colorado, federal law is the determining factor of whether or not they’re an unlawful user and under federal law marijuana is still a schedule 1 controlled substance.
  • They must not be subject to protection orders.

Given that information, the county sheriff shall issue the five-year permit within 90 days or deny the application with a letter describing why. The denied applicant, however, may appeal and seek judicial review of their application, according to C.R.S. 18-12-207.

Throughout 2016 until November, according to the last available report, there were 216 prohibited concealed handgun permits and 56,888 eligible applicants. Since permits began being issued under new procedures in 2003, there have been about 366,942 eligible concealed handgun permit applicants.

The permit can be renewed up to 120 days prior to expiration. Colorado statutes dictate the renewal fee will not exceed $50. According to revised statutes, the applicant must submit a notarized affidavit stating they’re still qualified for a permit under C.R.S. 18-12-203 (1) (a) through (1) (g), which are described in the above criteria.

Notably, C.R.S. 18-12-203 (1) (h) is the portion of state law that requires submission of a training certification. Therefore, a new training course for the renewal application shouldn’t be a requirement, but speak with a local county sheriff to verify that, as they’re the licensing authorities.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, for example, doesn’t require any additional training for qualified renewal applicants.

Given that permits are for state residents, all other out-of-state concealed carriers visiting Colorado should pay attention to reciprocity agreements.

Colorado Concealed Carry Reciprocity

colorado ccw reciprocity

Colorado concealed carry reciprocity agreements are relevant for those visiting the state for family or travel, whether it be to national parks or to explore the Rocky Mountains.


According to Colorado law, specifically C.R.S. 18-12-213 as of 2007, Colorado only recognizes out-of-state permits issued to those who are residents of the state that’s on their permit.

Colorado reciprocity laws do not extend CCW rights to those who own permits from a state they are not a resident of. For example, if a Tennessee resident owns a Virginia nonresident concealed handgun permit, that Tennessee resident’s Virginian permit would not be recognized in Colorado.

The reciprocity standards also require the out-of-state permit owner to be 21 years old. Colorado only deems permits valid from those states that recognize Colorado’s permits.

Colorado shares reciprocity within 33 states. Be sure to contact the respective state authority to ensure a permit is recognized when traveling to or from Colorado.

As this is not a completely comprehensive guide to concealed carry in this state and also is not formal legal advice, stay up to date on reciprocity agreements. Given that these agreements often change, make sure to use a CCW reciprocity map.

When traveling within Colorado, there are a few more considerations.

Colorado Concealed Carry Permit Restrictions and Exceptions

colorado ccw laws

Historically, those traveling between the state’s counties with a firearm (whether they own a Colorado concealed carry permit or not) have been subject to a “patchwork” of various local firearms laws and ordinances, according to C.R.S. 18-12-105.6.

Because of this, that cited statute restricts municipalities, counties and cities from passing laws prohibiting travel with a handgun.

That being said, under C.R.S. 18-12-204 (3) a permit is not necessary and the handgun is not considered concealed for those traveling in private vehicle and carrying a handgun for legal reasons, namely self defense.

Additionally, that statute covers those carrying a handgun while legally hunting.

A permit is also not necessary in order to own handguns in one’s dwelling or place of business.

Colorado recognizes the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which under certain restrictions exempts qualified current and retired LEOs from state and local laws prohibiting carrying concealed firearms.

Despite the freedoms it affords, a Colorado permit does not allow one to carry a handgun in all areas of the state. Federally prohibited areas are off limits.

Firearms are restricted on public elementary, middle, junior high and high schools. School security officers may bring firearms onto the premises while on duty. Additionally, permittees may have a firearm in their possession on school premises if they are in a vehicle, and if they leave the vehicle the weapon must be in a compartment and the vehicle must be locked.

Permits do not afford the right to carry a handgun in a public building wherein security personnel and weapons screening devices are stationed at the entrances and actively require weapons to be left with them while the permittee is in the building.

Firearms may be carried in Colorado national forests and in national parks, but the gun owner must comply with state gun laws.

According to the Colorado Department of Safety, firearms may not be discharged in these national forest areas:

  • Within 150 yards of a residence, campsite, building, recreation site or occupied area
  • Across or on a forest development road or body of water, or in any area where innocent bystanders would be injured
  • Into or within any cave

Concealed carry in any state is subject to multiple restrictions and exceptions. State laws change, but the ability to research them and to practice safe concealed carry techniques does not.

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gun blog writer jake smith

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.