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Can you Carry a Gun While Hiking in Colorado?

You can generally carry a gun while hiking in Colorado, but there are regulations to be aware of. Colorado allows open carry of firearms without a permit for individuals who are at least 18 years old and legally allowed to possess a firearm.
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Open Carry Laws for Hikers in Colorado

According to The Trail Guru, Colorado has relatively permissive open carry laws that allow people to openly carry firearms in many public places, including while hiking, [1]. However, some regulations still apply.

State Open Carry Laws
At the state level, Colorado laws generally allow for the open carry of firearms, with some exceptions. This means that hikers typically have the legal right to openly carry firearms on trails and in wilderness areas unless there are more restrictive local laws in place.

However, certain cities and counties in Colorado may have additional restrictions on open carry. For instance:

In Boulder, openly carried firearms must be in plain view, such as in holsters. Carrying openly without an obvious case is not allowed.
Some jurisdictions may prohibit open carry altogether.

As a result, it is important for hikers to always check county and municipal regulations before openly carrying firearms while hiking. Laws can vary from one place to another, even within Colorado.

Federal Open Carry Laws
Aside from state and local laws, federal laws also prohibit certain individuals from legally carrying firearms in Colorado or anywhere else in the U.S.

Under federal law, the following individuals are generally prohibited from carrying firearms:

  • Convicted felons
  • Individuals convicted of domestic violence
  • Drug addicts
  • People with certain mental health conditions
  • Individuals dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Former U.S. citizens
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Non-immigrant visa holders

Hikers who fall into any of these federally prohibited categories cannot legally carry firearms, whether openly or concealed, even if Colorado state law would otherwise allow it.

Also Read: Are Silencers Illegal in Colorado?

Is it Legal to Carry a Weapon in Colorado National Forests?

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, "While visiting National Forests in Colorado, you may carry a weapon," [2]. "However, in addition to state laws, you must comply with Federal Regulations pertaining to the use of a firearm on National Forest System lands."

  1. Firearms may not be discharged within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area.
  2. Firearms may not be discharged across or on a Forest Development road or an adjacent body of water, or in any manner that exposes any person or property to injury or damage.
  3. Discharging firearms into or within any cave is prohibited.

It's important to note that some forest districts may have additional restrictions, so it's advisable to check with local authorities before using firearms in these areas.

Also Read: Colorado Gun Registration

Do I Need a Concealed Carry Permit in Colorado?

According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), the short answer is yes. Concealed carry is legal in Colorado for residents with a Colorado permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) and non-residents of states with which Colorado has reciprocity agreements [3].

To qualify for a CCW permit, residents must be at least 21 years old and not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.

Additionally, applicants must complete a state-approved firearms training course to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Colorado Gun Violence Statistics

  • From 2010 to 2019, Colorado experienced a 32% increase in gun deaths, compared to a 17% increase nationwide. This included a 29% rise in gun suicides and a 45% increase in gun homicides, compared to 13% and 26% increases nationwide, respectively.
  • The societal cost of gun violence in Colorado is estimated at $1,006 per person annually, ranking it 20th in the nation. Gun deaths and injuries cost the state $6 billion, with taxpayers covering $170 million of this total.
  • In Colorado, 76% of gun deaths are suicides, and 20% are homicides, contrasting with national averages of 60% and 38%, respectively.
  • Annually, Colorado sees an average of 611 gun suicides resulting in death and 20 people wounded by gun suicide attempts, translating to rates of 10.5 suicides and 0.4 attempts per 100,000 people. This places Colorado 17th in the nation for gun suicides and attempts.
  • Colorado records an average of 181 gun homicides each year, with 141 people wounded by gun assaults, resulting in rates of 3.2 homicides and 2.5 assaults per 100,000 people. Colorado ranks 46th in the nation for gun homicides and assaults.
  • Overall, 69% of all homicides in Colorado involve a gun, compared to 75% nationwide.

Source: Everytown Research & Policy [4]

The statistics from Colorado reveal a concerning trend of rising gun deaths over the last decade, with increases significantly surpassing national averages, particularly in gun homicides and suicides.

This escalation not only reflects the broader issue of gun violence but also highlights the substantial financial burden it imposes on the state and its residents, with a notable portion of the costs borne by taxpayers.

The data underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions and policy measures to address the specific challenges Colorado faces in combating gun violence and its repercussions on public health and safety.

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References:

1. https://publicsafety.colorado.gov/colorado-gun-laws
2. https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/about/?tID=5f6e270aea094
3. https://thetrailguru.com/open-and-concealed-carry-laws-for-hikers-in-colorado/
4. https://maps.everytownresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Gun-Violence-in-Colorado-2.9.2021.pdf