Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2023 ‘Background Check Procedures in Colorado.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 29 November
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]
Background Checks in Colorado
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
Colorado is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Colorado, all firearm transfers by licensed dealers are processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which enforces federal, as well as state, purchaser prohibitions.
Colorado requires CBI to transmit a request for a background check in connection with the prospective transfer of a firearm to the NICS system and authorizes CBI to search other databases. CBI must deny a transfer of a firearm to a prospective transferee if the transfer would violate federal or state law.
Colorado denies a prospective firearm purchaser's application if the background check cannot be completed within the three-day default period. More specifically, Colorado law provides that an application for a firearm purchase must be denied in cases in which there has been no final disposition or the final disposition is not noted in the NICS or state databases, where the applicant: 1) has been arrested for or charged with a crime that would prohibit him or her from purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law; or 2) is the subject of an indictment, an information, or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. However, "the inability of the bureau to obtain the final disposition of a case that is no longer pending shall not constitute the basis for the continued denial of the transfer."
Colorado law explicitly provides access to juvenile delinquency court and probation records for firearm background check purposes. Colorado law also provides procedures for appeal of a denial of a firearm transfer.
CBI must adopt rules to carry out these duties.
Colorado requires private sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. Any private person who seeks to transfer possession of a firearm to a prospective transferee must: 1) require that a background check is conducted on the prospective transferee by a licensed gun dealer; and 2) obtain approval of the transfer from CBI after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer.
When a licensed dealer obtains a background check on a prospective transferee, the dealer must record the transfer and retain the records as the same manner as when conducting a sale, rental, or exchange at retail. The dealer must also provide the transferor and transferee with a copy of the results of the background check, including the CBI's approval or disapproval of the transfer.
A transferee cannot accept possession of the firearm from a private seller until CBI approves a transfer. The transfer must be completed within 30 days of that approval.
A transferee is prohibited from knowingly providing false information to a prospective transferor or to a licensed dealer for the purpose of acquiring a firearm…