Back to School: Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Colorado

Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards explains the laws in Colorado and how they factor in to your back to school considerations for carry.

Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards discusses back-to-school considerations for firearms owners:

Let’s talk for a few moments about whether or not you can bring a firearm onto a college campus, if you’re going heading back to school and in college, or you’re going back to school, or your kids are going back to school in a primary or high school.

Back-to-School: Public University

Starting with college: If you are going to a public university, there’s case law on point that the university cannot limit your ability to carry concealed with a concealed handgun license on the campus as long as you’re in public areas. The schools sometimes find a way around that by through a contractual relationship, for example, if you are living in a dorm and they have a landlord, and you’re in a tenant-type of a relationship, sometimes through that contract, they’re able to limit your ability to carry the firearm within the dormitory. I think it’s a bad idea to have the firearm in your dorm room, as college kids tend to have alcohol around them, and I think it’s very you’re asking for trouble if there’s alcohol and guns nearby.

But, what can you do? What is the law? That’s what we’re here to discuss today and so the public universities are not able to just outright limit your ability to carry a firearm concealed on campus, notwithstanding the fact that they have signs posted saying or policies saying that you can’t carry concealed.

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Please call my office to discuss your exact situation, because there are nuances from university to university.

Back-to-School: Private University

Private universities are totally different. A private university can limit your ability to carry concealed on campus anywhere, so make sure that you do take advantage of us as a resource for you, and we will help answer all of your questions.

Now let’s toggle over to parents dropping off kids at school this year.

Back-to-School: Drop Off

So if you are, let’s just say, driving your child to school, and you’re going to drop them off now let’s just say in the drop off circle or somewhere on the school property, even if you decide to go in and take them inside, you’re fine to do that with a firearm in your car, as long as it’s unloaded and locked in the glove box. If you have a CCW, that’s fine, if you do not have a CCW, you cannot do this. You’ll need to park your vehicle off campus or off school property and walk your child up or go up there to collect your child from the school.

If you don’t have a child, and a school zone happens to be something you have to drive through once, twice, or even more times on your way to work, or wherever you’re going, you do not need to avoid the school district just because school’s back in session, and you have a gun in your car, as long as you’re just driving directly through the school zone, you’re not going to have any problems. It’s not until you pull into the school that we start to have to wonder or ask questions.

Do you have a CCW? And if you do, is your gun locked… unloaded and locked in your glove box?

Teachers are sometimes allowed to bring firearms into school. They have to do this under a special exception that allows them as a school security or school resource officer to carry a firearm.

I highly suggest that if you’re a U.S. LawShield® member, you contact my office, and let’s review that policy together, and make sure that the school district is in compliance with state and federal laws. It’s extremely important. We’re walking a very thin line here and I want to make sure that you, our Member, is doing everything perfectly.

Thank you, I look forward to talking to each one of you about these issues and more.

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Comment section

9 comments on “Back to School: Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Colorado

  1. We carry guns in our cars, loaded and not locked. We do keep the cars locked, even in our own garage. Is that generally verboten? Our kids are grown and moved away, and it’s now just the two of us but we are elderly.

  2. In a state university, what is a public area? I have a CCW and I am faculty. Is my office a public area?

    • Hi Jose. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys in Colorado.

      “C.R.S. 18-12-2-14(3) creates a narrow exception to CCW carry making it unlawful to carry on public elementary, middle, junior high, or high schools. The 2012 Colorado Supreme Court ruling in Regents of University of Colorado v. Students of Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC ruled the Colorado Concealed Carry Act divests universities of their authority to regulate concealed handgun possession on campus. However, the University of Colorado has interpreted this ruling to restrict regulation on conceal carry solely to “any public places or publicly accessible building on the University of Colorado campuses.” (Board of Regents Policy 14I: Weapons Control) The policy goes on to state “In those situations where the University of Colorado grants access to buildings or facilities pursuant to a contractual relationship, such as landlord-tenant relationship for access to student housing facilities or a licensor-licensee relationship for access to events that are not generally open to the public, the chancellor of each campus shall have the authority to enter contracts with students, employees, and guests of the University of Colorado governing the terms of that relationship, including contractually limiting the ability of persons to exercise the ability to possess a concealed firearm in those buildings or facilities. Colorado State University has a similar policy. Given this interpretation, your office is likely not a public area and you will need to determine whether there is a contractual agreement between you and your employer preventing you from possessing a firearm in your office.”

  3. According to section18-12-214-(3)(a) of the Colorado Statutes, if you have a CCW, are on public school property, and leave the vehicle, there is no requirement for the gun to be locked in the glove box or other compartment, and no mention of whether the gun should be loaded or not; it just has to be locked in the car, in a compartment. This is still what is posted on the El Paso County Sheriff’s website in the concealed carry info packet. We understand that additional security is wise, but that is what it states. Has this changed?

  4. Your comment about having it locked in your glove box. Most new cars do not have a locked glove box. You also state that needs to be locked, trigger/cable lock? Does this mean that you have two levels of security; cable lock and glove box?

    Would the following be allowed?
    – -Unloaded and locked in an approved gun case in the trunk, The ammo stored separately in a different container. Basically out of reach and out of sight. But no trigger/cable lock

    Thanks, Rick

  5. Wow; I guess this is where it’s going. I can’t even have a CCW and drop my girls off at the school without my weapon unloaded and locked in the glove box. First off, under what conditions are they going to search my car to see if I’m complying? And second, if I’m driving up with my kids still in the car and some nut job opens fire, I’m tempted to just back up and drive off without engaging. Why should a good samaritan risk helping this kind of culture?

  6. Please confide to me the ramifications of my wife’s father leaving his guns to my wife. I am being left out of the will because I am a witness to the signing.

  7. On Saturday, August 5, I attempted to go to the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival in Olathe, CO. I was in the line to pay my admission and I saw that there was a private security guard there checking bundles and pack packs and also requiring the people to lift up their shirts to show that they were not carrying a weapon. I realized what was going on and took out my CHP. When I got to the front of the line, I told the guard that I was carrying a concealed handgun and showed him my permit. He politely told me that he could not allow me to enter. I turned and left without a comment. I believe this went against state law as this was a public event, held on public property and there were no metal detectors at ANY of the entrances as required by law.

    Am I correct in that they broke the law by not permitting me entrance and if so, what can I do about it?

    I have been to events such as Bronco & Rockie games, a rally for GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan at Colorado Mesa University and two different county court houses and in every case, they employed metal detectors at each entrance.

    • Hi Raymond. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys in Colorado.

      “Likely not a violation of 18-12-214 that authorizes a permittee to carry a concealed handgun in all area of the state because, though this event was held on public land, it was contracted out to private vendors. The terms of the private vendor contract include full indemnification to the Town of Olathe by the vendors stating, “The vendor agrees to release, defend, indemnify and save the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival and the Town of Olathe from and against any and all loss, cost, expense and claims for damage and injury, including death to persons or damage to property resulting from acts or omissions by the vendor, its agents or employees.” Though this festival is open to the public, courts will likely construe it to be a private event because the vendors assume all responsibilities. As such, they can dictate the rules and regulations regarding possessing a firearm while on festival grounds. With that said, there is no case law directly on point to provide clarification.”

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