In our last newsletter, you heard from Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker on what was legal and not legal to add to your gun under federal. This newsletter Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards is here to tell you what attachments are legal and not legal to add to your firearm under state law.
In our last newsletter, we shared three real-life stories of people fighting off a wild bear attack. These scenarios beg the question: How can a person legally defend themselves against an attacking animal?
We asked your Independent Program Attorney to answer this question for you, so you will know what to do if you are attacked by an animal.
C.R.S. 33-3-106 provides some clarity regarding when use of force is lawful against certain wildlife and dogs. Under this statute, it is lawful to trap, kill, or otherwise dispose of bears, mountain lions, or dogs without a permit in situations when it is necessary to prevent them from inflicting death, damage, or injury to livestock, real property, a motor vehicle, or human life. Real property means land and generally anything affixed to the owner’s land such as buildings. Further, force, including deadly force, may be used against dogs when it is necessary to prevent them from inflicting death or injury to big game and to small game, birds, and mammals. Note, this statute does not make it lawful to use deadly force against these animals to protect private or personal property. Pets are considered private property in Colorado and deadly force to protect the family dog or cat may not be justified. Further, while dogs are mammals, the protections of this statute apply to damage caused by “wildlife” which would likely not include dogs. However, this statute does clarify that deadly force used against any of these animals to protect human life is justified.
C.R.S. 33-6-107(9) provides additional guidance regarding use of force, including deadly force against wildlife on private property. Under this statute, it is lawful, without a permit, to hunt, trap, or take black-billed magpies, common crows, starlings, English or house sparrows, common pigeons, coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, raccoons, jackrabbits, badgers, marmots, prairie dogs, pocket gophers, Richardson’s ground squirrels, rock squirrels, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, porcupines, crayfish, tiger, salamanders, muskrats, beavers, exotic wildlife, and common snapping turtles on lands owned or leased by a person but only when such wildlife is causing damage to crops, real or personal property, or livestock. Further, any person may kill skunks or rattlesnakes when necessary to protect life or property.
The more common question for U.S. LawShield members poses the question when is it justified to use force, including deadly force, against a dog that is attacking their family pet? Unfortunately, Colorado law provides virtually no guidance for these types of scenarios. Use of force statutes in Colorado discuss situations where force is justified against “another person.” Therefore, we are forced to speculate whether Colorado’s use of force laws apply to animal attacks as the legislature has not addressed this issue. With that said, the following offers a discussion regarding the laws that have been enacted and how they may apply in these types of situations. Ultimately, prosecutors are given broad discretion to determine when to seek criminal charges in cases involving use of force against animals.
Under C.R.S. 18-1-704, a person is justified in using deadly physical force against another person if he/she reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and reasonably believes he/she is in imminent danger of being killed or receiving great bodily injury. In conjunction with C.R.S. 33-3-106, it is likely lawful to use deadly force against an attacking animal to prevent or stop an attack by any animal that presents a serious threat to human life.
Under C.R.S. 18-1-706, a person is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when he/she reasonably believes it necessary to prevent damage to his/her property. The use of physical force in this situation must be reasonable and appropriate given the circumstances. Further, the use of deadly force is not justified to protect personal property. Though many consider pets part of their family, they are considered private property in Colorado. Thus, this statute would make it unlawful to use deadly force to protect a family pet against an attacking dog.
However, Colorado provides an affirmative defense called “choice of evils” whereby conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense is not criminal when that conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur. The emergency may not have been created by the actor and the desirability and urgency of avoiding the injury must clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented. Again, this defense is typically raised in situations involving conduct used against other people and it is unclear whether a court would permit this defense for conduct used against animals.
A prosecutor may elect to charge a person with animal cruelty that used deadly force against an animal. It is a class six felony for a person to needlessly kill an animal. It is a class one misdemeanor to recklessly or with criminal negligence needlessly kill an animal. The term “needlessly” is not defined by statute and would be left to jury’s interpretation. A prosecutor could also pursue charges including prohibited use of weapon, a class two misdemeanor, or illegal discharge of a firearm, a class five felony, if a firearm was fired inside of a dwelling, building, occupied structure, or motor vehicle.
In any case, your actions will be evaluated against those of a reasonable person. That is, the law will look at all of the circumstances surrounding the use of your firearm to see if a reasonable person would have acted the same way. So long as a reasonable person would have used deadly force to stop the attack, you should not be criminally liable for your actions.
Until now, we have been talking about Colorado law. What about federal law? The federal law has actually had the foresight to specifically provide that a person may kill an endangered animal in self-defense, such as the regulations concerning the Mexican Wolf in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 17.84(k)(3)(xii), or the Grizzly Bear in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 17.40(b)(i)(B). Unlike the Colorado statutes, this makes the federal law clear and comprehendible. Therefore, if you are carrying your concealed handgun in a national park and you find yourself face to face with a Grizzly Bear, you can use your gun without fear of federal prosecution.
To View the law for defense against animals in other states click on the state names below:
In Part I, we saw the actions Clint took to defend his dog from being killed by the neighborhood stray. Now, in Part II you will learn if his actions followed the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards teach you the law, so you will know what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Paul Ready: Welcome back to Part II of our feature on defending your pets. In Part I, our member Clint was forced to defend his dog against an attack by another bigger dog. Many of you have asked what the law says about how and when you can defend your four-legged friends. The answer will be different depending on the law in your state. That’s why we’ve asked the Independent Program Attorneys in your state to tell us more.
Doug Richards: I think we all consider our pets to be an extension of our family. However, Colorado law says that our pets are simply private or personal property, and Colorado law further says that you cannot use deadly force to defend your private or personal property. So putting this into motion if you’re out walking your dog and another animal comes up to attack your dog you cannot, just on that alone, use deadly force to protect your private property or your dog. However, if you believe, reasonably believe, that that animal is going to be attacking you, or tries to attack you or a third party, then you can use the amount of force that’s reasonable under the circumstances to stop that threat just like you could stop any other threat under those similar circumstances. So that’s why if anything like this occurs in your life, whether it’s while you’re walking a dog or something attacks your animal in the back yard, and you end up having to discharge your firearm to stop a threat that’s ultimately coming towards you; you must immediately contact U.S. LawShield and let a trained attorney from my office help you navigate this situation to make sure everybody, including the police, understand that you were in fear for your life and that you are not simply trying to protect private property.
Paul: For more information on when you can use force in your state, please go to GunLawSeminar.com and register to attend one of our events in your area. If you missed Part I of Clint’s story, you can click the link on your screen to see it. And as always if you are not a member we would love for you to join us at uslawshield.com.
Spring Break is here, and everyone is thawing out after a long winter. Watch Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards instruct you on the law before walking into a restaurant or bar with your firearm.
Can You Conceal Carry in Colorado?
In Colorado, you can go into a bar with a firearm concealed so long as there’s not signage that specifically prohibits it, or you’re told by somebody that works there that no guns are allowed. Once you’re inside the bar, if you consume any alcohol, you run the risk of committing a crime by possessing a firearm while you’re intoxicated. Now, you might think, well if I have one beer, or one shot, or whatever it might be, I’m not intoxicated because I’m not a .08, or I’m not a .05. You’d be mistaken because you’re right now thinking about the legal standard for driving, not the legal standard for possessing a firearm. There is no actual per se or statutory legal standard, so it’s a totally subjective standard, i.e. it is up to the police officer on whether or not you are intoxicated. So, if you’re using bad judgment and you’ve got some alcohol on your breath, I can promise you the police officer is going to say you’re intoxicated, and you’re going to be facing a criminal charge for doing something you really shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
There are so many varieties of ammo on the market today, but not every type is perceived the same in the eyes of the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards explain how the type of ammo you use could affect you.
Doug Richards: Hello, Doug Richards for U.S. LawShield of Colorado. I want to talk for a few minutes today about ammunition. Ammunition is regulated by Colorado and the federal government. On the federal side the only restriction is you cannot have armor piercing bullets and you cannot be in possession of ammunition if you’re a prohibited person. Such as somebody that has a prior felony conviction, a conviction for domestic violence, even a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence. If you’ve been adjudicated for having some kind of mental defect or your addicted to drugs or alcohol. Those are just some of the things that would prohibit you from having a firearm or ammunition from the federal size.
On the state side in Colorado, the law doesn’t prohibit you from having any particular type of ammunition subject to the federal ban on armor-piercing bullets. What Colorado does restrict is the amount of ammunition you can have in the magazine in your firearm. As of July 1, 2013, Colorado changed the rules where you are no longer allowed to have an unlimited magazine. You can only have up to 15 rounds in your magazine. What you must do if you purchased a firearm after July 1, 2013, you cannot have a magazine that has over 15 rounds. If the magazine accepts over 15 rounds you must get rid of the magazine and purchase an aftermarket magazine that only accepts 15 rounds. If you had the magazine prior to July 1, 2013, then you would be grandfathered in.
Obviously, call my office if you have any questions on this. It can be kind of tricky to meander through the technical firearm statutes. Thank goodness you have U.S. LawShield as a membership and a resource and we would be happy to answer any of your questions.
As you saw in Rear-Ended, Then Defended Part 1, no one was hurt, and our member Jeremy was neither arrested nor charged. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In Part 2, we will dive deeper into the law, where Independent Program Attorneys will explain the road rage self-defense laws from your state.
Watch the video below to see your Independent Program Attorney – Douglas Richards – explain the road rage self-defense laws for Colorado.
Sherry: Welcome back to Part II of Rear-Ended, Then Defended. As you remember from the last video, Jeremy’s truck was surrounded by three hostile men after a minor accident.
Fearing for his son’s safety, as well as his own, Jeremy retrieved his firearm from his glove compartment to stop the attack. In this instance, Jeremy’s quick actions deescalated the situation and prevented further threat to him and his child. However, his decision to leave his vehicle while brandishing a firearm his decision to leave his vehicle while brandishing a firearm is not a lawful action in every state.
That’s why I asked your Independent Program Attorney to clarify the law where you live.
Douglas: Here it seems Jeremy has been placed in an impossible situation. He was in the safe confines of the car with his son, but now these guys are attacking the vehicle making it an unsafe environment. He’s almost a sitting duck. So when he decides to get out and defend himself and a third party, his son, he would have been reasonable in using self-defense in that situation.
I don’t think he would have any problems with the police or a district attorney questioning his actions. Although, it’s possible he could. If he did we would have to defend that in court using the Colorado self-defense law. That law always questions whether or not your actions were reasonable. And I think in this circumstance Jeremy was reasonable in using deadly force to defend himself and his son.
Sherry: All too often our members find themselves in similar road rage situations all over the country. Please remember, if you are ever in a road rage situation drive to a safe, public location away from the aggressor. However, if you are forced to display, or use your firearm, call 911 first then call your attorney answered emergency hotline located on the back of your member card.
When it comes to legal defense for self-defense we’ve got you covered.
Doug Richards, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield®, describes what laws should gun owners be aware of when attending a protest. (Transcript below.)
Doug Richards here for U.S. LawShield.
Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about protesting, and I think that this is an important topic to discuss, given what’s happened recently in Charlottesville.
What I want to talk to you about is whether you can, and whether you should, carry a firearm about a protest.
Now, there is no specific law in Colorado that prohibits the either open or concealed carry of a firearm at a public protest. You could run into some problems, depending on where it actually occurs.
If it occurs on federal property, or on state property where firearms are prohibited, or if it occurs within a government building, obviously statutory restrictions would limit your ability to carry concealed. However, there is no statute in place that says you can’t carry a firearm at a public demonstration, or at a public gathering such as a protest.
Now the question is whether or not you should.
I don’t think you should. I think it’s a very poor choice to bring a firearm to any sort of a rally or a protest or anything like that. Obviously if there’s an incident and you’re the one that’s in possession of the firearm, you will immediately be under some significant scrutiny by the police and the district attorney’s office. Moreover, if you’re in possession of the firearm, you could very easily be charged with either disorderly conduct or menacing if your actions are creating a panic in other people or making them feel as if you’re presenting the firearm in a way that might hurt them or in a way to attack them.
So whether you can, and whether you should, like many things with the Second Amendment, you know, they don’t necessarily go together, and I urge you to exercise caution when you’re exercising your First Amendment rights and your Second Amendment rights.
It would be a difficult to justify suing a car dealer who sold a vehicle to someone who then intentionally used it to cause harm or death. But if the product is a gun, some believe that the manufacturer or dealer should be liable for users’ deliberate violence.
In 2012, Jessica Ghawi was shot and killed along with 11 others in an Aurora, Colo., movie theatre. The Patriot Post reports that Ghawi’s grieving parents were encouraged by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence to launch a hopeless lawsuit against gun store Lucky Gunner and others who lawfully sold items used in the shooting.
Denver-based U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards said, “The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically protects lawful firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held responsible for the criminal actions of a third party.”
Richards added, “In his decision, Senior District Judge Richard P. Matsch not only dismissed the suit, but ruled ‘Pursuant to C.R.S. §13-21-504.5, defendants Lucky Gunner and the Sportsman’s Guide are entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs to be determined after filing motions pursuant to D.C.Colo.L.Civ.R.54.3.’”
The fight’s not over yet, however. Lucky Gunner reports “The Brady Center predictably appealed the judge’s ruling and we are prepared to continue defending your rights and ours. While it is not yet clear when the $111,971.10 fee reimbursement will be paid, we are going to donate 100% of what is recovered to groups that support and defend the 2nd Amendment. We will fight to recover these funds from the Brady Center and to hold the Brady Center responsible for yet another frivolous lawsuit.”
Lucky Gunner ran an online poll to determine which groups would receive the funds.
— Warren Berg, U.S. LawShield Contributor
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.
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.
If you watched the Guns in Colorado Bars and Restaurants video, you heard from Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards that though it is legal to carry a firearm into a bar in Colorado if the establishment allows it, it’s not a good idea. If you do go into a bar while carrying, he also strongly advises against drinking alcohol while there. To learn more on the topic so you can stay legal and safe while you carry, check out this excerpt from Colorado Gun Law, Armed And Educated:
Possession of a firearm while under the influence
Section 18-12-106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes makes it a class 2 misdemeanor to possess a firearm while a person is “under the influence of intoxicating alcohol” or a controlled substance. There is no definition for “under the influence” and our experience has been that police officers provide purely subjective opinions in this area. We have seen officers attempt to use DUI tests to confirm intoxication on clients; however, the vast majority simply state that the subject was intoxicated or appeared to be under the influence. A “controlled substance” is defined here the same way as it is defined for the purpose of the Colorado Concealed Carry Permit application, discussed in Chapter Eight of this book. Beware, possession of a Colorado Concealed Carry Permit or a temporary emergency permit is no defense to this law.
To learn more Colorado gun law, get the authoritative resource: Colorado Gun Law, Armed And Educated. Click here to order. Or attend a Gun Law Seminar. Click here to find a location and time convenient for you.