A private firearm transfer refers to a sale, gift, loan, or other transfer of a firearm between two non-licensed individuals. Private firearm transfers are common and entirely legal to conduct in Colorado. However, as of July 1, 2013, Colorado law now requires the majority of private firearm transfers to be facilitated through a dealer with a Federal Firearms License (“FFL”). This article is intended to educate members about the process of conducting a private firearm transfer in Colorado and the numerous exceptions that commonly apply. The procedure and exceptions for a private firearm transfer can all be found within C.R.S. § 18-12-112.
UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS IN COLORADO
Generally speaking, before any person who is not a licensed gun dealer transfers or attempts to transfer possession of a firearm to another person, he or she must (1) request that a background check be conducted of the transferee (the person taking possession of the firearm) by an FFL, and (2) obtain approval for the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (“CBI”). Under Colorado law, this process must be facilitated through an FFL licensee.
The first step is to contact an FFL and arrange for that dealer to obtain the background check of the transferee. An FFL who facilitates this process is required to record and retain the records of the transfer in the same manner as they normally would during a sale or transfer of a firearm out of their own inventory. The FFL is required to provide both the transferor and transferee a copy of the background check results, including CBI’s approval or disapproval of the transfer. The transferor should retain and preserve a copy of this paperwork as evidence that the transferor complied with Colorado law.
It is important to note that the transferee is prohibited from accepting possession of the firearm until the background check has been completed through an FFL and approval has been obtained from the CBI. Once approval is granted by the CBI, it is valid for 30 days, so the parties must complete the transfer during this window.
Failing to comply with these requirements can result in a number of serious consequences. First, it is a class 1 criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Additionally, a transferor who violates this law is jointly and severally liable for any civil damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent use of the firearm. Finally, any criminal conviction for failure to comply with C.R.S. § 18-12-112 will be reported to the CBI and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). As a result, that person will then be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years.
Put simply, use an FFL to facilitate all private firearm transfers, unless one of the exceptions explained below applies. This is typically a rather straightforward process, and most Colorado-based FFLs are willing and able to assist.