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Felons & Pellet Guns in Colorado: Is Possession Legal?

In Colorado, the laws regarding felons and firearm possession are quite strict. However, when it comes to pellet guns, the regulations are different since these are not classified as firearms under federal or state law. Colorado law generally allows felons to own pellet guns since they are not classified as firearms; however, it is crucial to be aware of and comply with any local restrictions and regulations.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is a Pellet Gun?

According to the Academy, pellet guns fire metal projectiles, or pellets, specifically designed to penetrate targets, making them ideal for small game hunting, pest control, and sport shooting [1]. These guns are favored for their precision and effectiveness against small animals and inanimate objects.

Pellet guns come in both rifle and pistol varieties — with rifles typically providing the most accuracy and power. Additionally, pellet guns are generally considered to be more accurate in a pellet gun vs BB gun scenario due to their rifled barrels and aerodynamic pellet shapes.

Types and Varieties of Pellet Guns
Pellet Guns Varieties:

  • Rifles and Pistols: Pellet guns come in both rifle and pistol forms. Rifles typically offer greater accuracy and power due to their longer barrels and stable design.
  • Accuracy: Compared to BB guns, pellet guns are generally more accurate. This is due to their rifled barrels and the aerodynamic shape of the pellets.

Power Sources for Pellet Guns:

  • Single-Pump or Multi-Pump: These guns require manual pumping to compress air, controlling the force of each shot. Users can adjust the power by varying the number of pumps.
  • Spring-Piston: Uses a coiled spring and piston mechanism.
  • Gas Piston: Utilizes a nitrogen gas-filled chamber and piston to propel the pellet.
  • CO2: These guns use CO2 cartridges to propel pellets, providing consistent power with each shot.
  • Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP): Equipped with built-in air tanks, PCP guns store highly-pressurized air, released in short bursts when the trigger is pulled, delivering powerful and accurate shots.

Pellet guns are a versatile choice for various shooting activities, offering different styles and power sources to suit individual preferences and needs. Their design and functionality make them a popular option for those seeking accuracy and control in their shooting endeavors.

POWPO Definition in Colorado

According to SCLG, in Colorado, a person can be convicted of Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender (POWPO) simply by owning a weapon, even if they do not carry or use it [2]. This is considered “constructive possession” because the owner still exerts control over the weapon.

Although pellet guns are not firearms, they are “air guns” and therefore a type of weapon. POWPO laws prohibit possessing all weapons, not just firearms – Stated at SCLG

POWPO Penalties in Colorado

Class 6 Felony:

For felons knowingly possessing a pellet gun:

  • Prison Sentence: 1 to 1.5 years in Colorado State Prison
  • Fines: $1,000 to $100,000
  • Mandatory Parole: 1 year

Class 5 Felony:

If the defendant’s prior crime involved arson, burglary, or any felony involving the use of a deadly weapon, and the POWPO occurred within 10 years of the previous conviction or release from prison:

  • Prison Sentence: 1 to 3 years
  • Fines: $1,000 to $100,000
  • Mandatory Parole: 2 years

Class 4 Felony:

For a second or subsequent POWPO conviction:

  • Prison Sentence: 2 to 6 years
  • Fines: $2,000 to $500,000
  • Mandatory Parole: 3 years

Understanding these penalties is crucial for those with prior convictions to avoid further legal complications. Colorado’s strict POWPO laws apply to all weapons, including pellet guns, highlighting the importance of compliance with state regulations.

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