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Can An 18 Year Old Open Carry in Colorado?

The minimum age to openly carry a firearm in Colorado is 18. Individuals aged 18 and older are legally permitted to open carry firearms in most public places without a permit.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Understanding Open Carry Laws

According to Colorado Handgun Safety, open carry refers to the practice of visibly carrying a firearm without concealing it. This means carrying a gun on your hip in a holster or in a bag slung over your shoulder, where the firearm is in plain sight [1].

Open Carry Regulations
Open carry laws differ from state to state, but generally, they permit individuals to carry firearms openly as long as they adhere to specific rules and regulations. While open carry is legal in many states, it’s crucial to understand and comply with local laws before carrying a gun in public.

Open Carry in Colorado
Colorado is among 37 states that allow individuals to openly carry firearms without a permit. However, even in states like Colorado where open carry is legal, there are important considerations and restrictions to be aware of, such as:

  • Prohibited Locations: Certain public places, such as schools and government buildings, may prohibit firearms regardless of open carry laws.
  • Local Ordinances: Cities and counties within Colorado may have additional restrictions or requirements.

Age Requirements for Open Carry in Colorado

According to SCLG, in Colorado, the legal age requirements for carrying firearms vary depending on the type of firearm and whether the carry is open or concealed [2].

Open Carry Minimum Age

  • Handguns: Individuals must be at least 18 years old to openly carry a handgun in Colorado.
  • Rifles and Shotguns: There is no minimum age requirement for carrying rifles and shotguns openly in Colorado. However, minors under 18 are generally prohibited from openly carrying handguns.

Exceptions for Minors Under 18
Minors under 18 may legally possess handguns in certain circumstances, including:

  • Hunting or Trapping: If the minor has a current and valid hunting or trapping license.
  • Safety Courses: While attending a gun or hunting safety course.
  • Target Shooting: When participating in legal target shooting activities.
  • Competitions: While involved in legal performances or competitions.
  • Private Property: On property owned by the minor’s parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, with their permission.
  • Home Defense: At home, with parental or guardian permission, for self-defense purposes.

Penalties for Underage Handgun Possession
First Offense: Classified as a class 2 misdemeanor, with penalties including:

Up to 120 days in jail
Fines up to $750

Subsequent Offenses: Classified as class 5 felonies, with penalties including:

  • 1 to 3 years in Colorado State Prison (plus 2 years of parole)
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000

Also Read: Colorado Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Concealed Carry Laws in Colorado

In Colorado, carrying a concealed handgun in public is permissible for individuals who have obtained the appropriate permit.

Permit Issuance
Colorado law typically mandates that a sheriff must issue a concealed carry permit to applicants who meet specific qualifications. However, sheriffs have some discretion and may deny a permit if there is a reasonable belief, based on documented behavior, that the applicant could pose a danger to themselves or others.

Eligibility Criteria for a Concealed Carry Permit
To qualify for a concealed carry permit in Colorado, an applicant must:

  • Be a Legal Resident: The applicant must reside in Colorado.
  • Be 21 or Older: The minimum age requirement is 21 years.
  • Be Legally Allowed to Possess a Firearm: The applicant must not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.
  • No Perjury Convictions: The applicant must not have been convicted of perjury in relation to information provided on a concealed handgun permit application.
  • Not Habitually Use Alcohol: The applicant must not be a chronic and habitual user of alcohol to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired.
  • Not Be a Controlled Substance User: The applicant must not unlawfully use or be addicted to controlled substances.
  • Not Be Subject to Certain Protection Orders: The applicant must not be subject to specific types of protection orders, including those issued under state law that are active at the time of application.
  • Demonstrate Handgun Competence: The applicant must show competence with a handgun through one of several authorized methods.

Temporary Emergency Permits
In situations where an individual may be in immediate danger, a sheriff can issue a “temporary emergency permit to carry a concealed handgun.” The criteria for this permit are similar to the standard permit but with some differences:

  • Age Requirement: The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • No Handgun Competence Proof Required: Evidence of handgun competence is not necessary.
  • Validity and Renewal: The emergency permit is valid for 90 days and can be renewed only once. If the permittee is under 21, the permit can be renewed until the individual reaches the age of 21.

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