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List of Illegal Weapons in Colorado

Colorado weapons laws specifically prohibit the use of certain weapons when they are discharged at another individual. Violating the law can lead to serious misdemeanor or felony charges, as well as the real possibility of incarceration, fines, and other penalties.

For Coloradans and those facing weapons charges in the state, the following shares some essential information regarding prohibited weapons, charges and penalties for the use of a prohibited weapon in Colorado, and some general ways to defend against these charges. Whenever you need advice about your situation or a specific case, contact a criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.

What Weapons Are Prohibited Under Colorado Law?

According to C.R.S. 18-12-106, it is illegal to throw, discharge, or otherwise use the following weapons when they are aimed at someone else or used with the intent to harm them:

  • Bows and arrows: This can include crossbows, compound bows, longbows, flatbows, and other bow-and-arrow types of devices.
  • Nunchakus: Devices that use a chain, wire, or rope to connect two rod-like objects can qualify as nunchakus under Colorado law.
  • Throwing stars: Also known as “shurikens,” these illegal weapons are hand-held, spherical objects that are surrounded with pointed blades and are thrown at the intended target.
  • Trip-wire-detonated explosives: This refers to explosive devices that are rigged to detonate when someone walks past and pulls a tripwire.
  • Traps: Animal traps, including various types of hunting traps and homemade devices used for trapping, are also illegal to use against (or with the purposes of harming) people under Colorado law.
  • Firearms: Outside of self-defense, using a firearm against another person is against the law in Colorado. Even within the bounds of self-defense, discharging a firearm can still bring criminal charges and require that someone prove this in court.

What Guns Are Illegal in Colorado?

Colorado law prohibits sawed-off shotguns and silencers under gun control regulations. Although there’s no specific ban on assault weapons, limitations on large-capacity magazines are enforced to curb rapid-fire incidents. The state’s Supreme Court affirmed the legality of these restrictions, stating they don’t excessively impede gun owners’ rights. Additionally, ownership of certain firearms, accessories, and ammunition is illegal, including:

  • Armor-piercing ammunition
  • Firearm silencers
  • Machine guns and conversion devices
  • Short shotguns (barrels less than eighteen inches or overall length less than twenty-six inches)
  • Short rifles (barrels less than sixteen inches or overall length less than twenty-six inches)
  • Defaced firearms (serial numbers removed or altered)
  • Large-capacity ammunition magazines (holding more than 15 rounds, if purchased after July 1, 2013)

However, possession of certain restricted items like short-barreled shotguns (SBSs), short-barreled rifles (SBRs), machine guns, and silencers is allowed with an NFA tax stamp.

When Can Prohibited Use of a Weapon Charges Be Filed?

Knowingly discharging or using a prohibited weapon against another person is just one ground for bringing these weapons charges in Colorado. Others can include (and are not limited to):

  • Intentionally setting up an explosive trap and leaving it unattended
  • Recklessly discharging a prohibited weapon in a manner that constitutes criminal negligence
  • Knowingly possessing nunchakus or throwing stars in a public place (when they are not being used as part of certain types of demonstrations)
  • Failing to transport nunchakus or throwing stars in closed, non-accessible containers when they are being used for school or children’s demonstrations
  • Possessing a prohibited weapon while intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs

A Closer Look at Colorado Weapons Law: Definitions of Key Terms

The prohibited weapons law in Colorado contains some key phrases that can be pivotal points in a defense case. Understanding what these phrases mean may reveal some options for fighting the charges:

  • Criminal negligence refers to actions that depart from what a reasonable person would do in a similar situation.
  • Knowingly means having an awareness of one’s actions and the potential, likely impacts of those actions.
  • Possession is the physical control over a weapon. It can mean carrying a weapon on one’s person or having the weapon readily available and close enough to access.
  • Recklessly means without regard for the justifiable risks that some action has.

Depending on the evidence available, the defense may be able to raise reasonable doubt regarding whether a defendant:

  • Knowingly possessed an illegal weapon
  • Acted with criminal negligence
  • Recklessly discharged a weapon

What Are the Charges & Penalties for Prohibited Use of a Weapon in Colorado?

Class 2 misdemeanor charges are typically filed for a first offense, as long as there are no aggravating circumstances, like injuries to others. Upon conviction, these charges can be punishable by 3 to 12 months in jail and/or $250 to $1,000 in fines. In some cases, the court may be open to probation with deferred sentencing.

Class 5 felony charges can come into play if, within the prior 5 years, the accused individual has been convicted of prohibited use of a weapon or:

Upon conviction of a class 5 felony, penalties can include 1 to 3 years in prison, $1,000 to $100,000 in fines, and 2 years of mandatory parole.

As serious as the misdemeanor and felony charges can be, it’s crucial to remember that:

  • There can be various ways to defend against them.
  • The burden of proof in these cases is on the prosecutor. That can make reasonable doubt a powerful way to fight charges of prohibited use of a weapon.
  • The sooner an accused individual has an experienced defense lawyer in their corner, the better.

Strengthen Your Defense By Having Anaya & Chadderdon By Your Side

If you or a loved one is accused of possessing an illegal weapon or violating any weapons law in Colorado, do NOT assume that you have to plead guilty or that you don’t have any defense options. Contact a 5-star criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. to find out more about your rights and how we can help you. As former prosecutors with decades of criminal trial experience, we are exceptionally effective at crafting strong, strategic defense cases for an array of weapons charges.

Put your freedom, reputation, and future in the experienced hands of our lawyers. We will fight for you and work relentlessly to defend you while minimizing the charges—or getting them dismissed whenever possible.

Call (719) 259-5082 or email us for a free and confidential case evaluation.