Can I legally possess a semi-automatic, so-called "Assault Weapon" in Colorado? CONDITIONAL YES. Some municipalities ban them or require their registration. Though SB03-25 was designed to remove these municipal restrictions, a November 2004 ruling by Judge Meyers kept the Denver ban in place (though modified).
Note: In January 2007, the Denver City Council passed 38-07, which modifies Denver's assault weapons ban.
What is an "Assault Weapon"? Colorado law does not define an "assault rifle" or "assault weapon". Click Here for a short video that may help you understand the difference between a full-auto rifle and semi-auto rifle (Note: the narrator of the video misstates that fully automatic firearms are illegal -- please see our NFA weapons FAQ section.
Does the City of Denver have an Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)? YES. Section 38-130 of Denver’s Revised Municipal Code was amended in 2007 and is titled “Assault Weapons” Denver's Assault Weapon ordinance (as well as other firearms ordinances) can be viewed here. That ban, however, only applies to firearms with magazines that hold more than 20 rounds.
NOTE: This means it is legal to own an AR-15, FNFAL, HK91, MAK90, etc, as long as you do not insert a 21+ round magazine.
Does Denver’s AW ban specific firearms? NO. Denver had a list of specific weapons that were banned but the 2007 amendments eliminated that list. For example, Denver’s old law banned the Colt AR15 by name. That weapon and all others on the previous list are now allowed in Denver with certain exceptions – namely those weapons with a high capacity magazine of 21 or more rounds. So, an AR15 with a 20 round magazine is not considered an "Assault Weapon" by Denver's ordinance. That same rifle with a magazine with a capacity of 21 or more rounds is considered an "Assault Weapon.".
Does that mean that I can own a so called Assault Weapon in Denver? CONDITIONAL YES. There are limitations on what you can own. Generally, Denver’s new law bans the possession of both high capacity magazines of 21 rounds or more and all rifles with a magazine of 21 or more rounds, which makes it an "Assault Weapon" in Denver's eyes.
Does Denver ban shotguns as well? YES. Any semi-automatic shotgun with a magazine capacity of 6 or more rounds or a folding stock or both is also considered an AW. Here is the law from Denver:
(1) Assault weapon shall include all firearms with any of the following characteristics:
- All semiautomatic action, centerfire rifles with a detachable magazine with a capacity of twenty-one (21) or more rounds.
- All semiautomatic shotguns with a folding stock or a magazine capacity of more than six (6) rounds or both.
- Any firearm which has been modified to be operable as an assault weapon as defined herein.
- Any part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault weapon, including a detachable magazine with a capacity of twenty-one (21) or more rounds, or any combination of parts from which an assault weapon may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.
Are there any exceptions to this law? YES.
Here is the law from Denver:
(c) Specific weapons not included. As used in this section, assault weapon does not include any of the following:
(1) All weapons that do not use fixed cartridges, all weapons that were in production prior to 1898, all manually operated bolt-action weapons, all lever-action weapons, all slide-action weapons, all single-shot weapons, all multiple-barrel weapons, all revolving-cylinder weapons, all semiautomatic weapons for which there is no fixed magazine with capacity of twenty-one (21) or more rounds available, all semiautomatic weapons that use exclusively en bloc clips, all semiautomatic weapons in production prior to 1954 and all rimfire weapons that employ a tubular magazine.
(2) Any firearm that uses .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.
(3) Any assault weapon which has been modified either to render it permanently inoperable or to permanently make it a device no longer defined as an assault weapon.
What is the penalty for violating this law? Here is the law from Denver:
(j) Penalty. Any person, firm or corporation who is convicted of violating any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) or more than nine hundred ninety-nine dollars ($999.00) and a term of incarceration of not less than ten (10) days nor more than one hundred eighty (180) days.
What if I am not a resident of Denver? Can I be arrested if I am in Denver with my AW and hi-cap magazine? YES. Denver provides for an affirmative defense if you are not a resident of Denver and are traveling through Denver with your AW and hi-cap magazine. You can be and likely will be arrested and jailed and your vehicle will be towed and stored. You have to hire a lawyer to get the charges dismissed. In some cases in the past, Denver’s City Attorney allowed those arrested with an AW to give the guns to the city in exchange for dropping charges. This can be less costly than paying an attorney to get the charges dismissed and to get your guns back.
Here is the law from Denver:
(3) It shall be an affirmative defense to charges brought under this section that the transportation of an assault weapon:
(a) Is through the city by a nonresident who is in legal possession of an assault weapon; or
(b) Is by a person carrying a permit issued under subsection (f) and the transportation is for one (1) of the following purposes:
- In aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned;
- To a bona fide hunting trip for wild game, or to a legitimate sporting use of such weapon, including shooting matches or target trap or skeet shooting. All weapons carried for such purposes shall be unloaded;
- While transporting such weapon to or from a place for sale outside the city or for repair. All weapons carried for such purposes shall be unloaded at all times;
- As a member of the armed forces of a state or of the federal government while engaged in the lawful performance of duty;
- In conjunction with moving personal property, including such weapon, from an old residence to a new residence. All weapons carried for such purposes shall be unloaded at all times.
How can I get a permit for an AW if I live in Denver? Unless you applied for and have kept your permit from the original law was passed in Denver in 1994, you will not be able to get a permit now.