January 24, 2011

Can a Felon Hunt with a Muzzle-loading Gun in Colorado?

 Short answer: No.

The question came up in recent conversation whether a someone with a felony conviction in their past who is barred from firearms ownership could still hunt legally in Colorado with a muzzle-loading gun that used black powder.

The argument was that under federal law, such guns are not "firearms" in a prohibited sense.

The short answer is no. And don't ask about archery either.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton discussed the law as follows:
Colorado State Law was amended in 1994 to prohibit the possession of a firearm or other weapons (pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18, Article 12). It was also amended in 2000 to make such possession a class 6 felony instead of a class 1 misdemeanor. The beginning wording of CRS 18-12-108 is,

(1) A person commits the crime of possession of a weapon by a previous offender if the person knowingly possesses, uses, or carries upon his or her person a firearm as described in section 18-1-901 (3) (h) or any other weapon that is subject to the provisions of this article subsequent to the person's conviction for a felony, or subsequent to the person's conviction for attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state's law or under federal law.

CRS 18-1-901(3)(h) adds the following provision that covers muzzleloaders and shotguns: 18-1-901(3)(h) "Firearm" means any handgun, automatic, revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, or other instrument or device capable or intended to be capable of discharging bullets, cartridges, or other explosive charges.
In regard to archery, he added,
Because 18-12-108 includes "firearm... OR ANY OTHER WEAPON that is subject to the provisions of this article," it also includes "dangerous" and '"deadly weapons." It is the interpretation of the Attorney General and the Division of Wildlife that bow and arrow are dangerous and deadly weapons, therefore, not allowed for possession of persons convicted of a felony.

I am posting this just in case anyone is searching online for the answer.

UPDATE: The question gets asked a lot: "Felons set sights for hunting in Colorado
More than 300,000 hunting licenses are issued for big game alone in Colorado every year and, of those, an untraceable number go to felons. The occurrence cannot be quantified because hunting licensee information is not public record.

Yet every year, game wardens contact felons in possession of a gun, said Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which oversees hunting.
Bottom line: A felon can buy a hunting license — but can legally use a firearm to hunt with a gun or a bow.  Or as this article puts it: "Colorado Felons Can Hunt, not Shoot."

There is a legal process for some felons to have gun rights restored.  Scroll down to Section I, part C.

UPDATE 2 (December 2019):  Here is the policy re-stated by CPW public information officer Bill Vogrin (bill.vogrin@state.co.us):
State law says a convicted felon may not possess a dangerous weapon. If we make contact with a hunter using a firearm, bow or muzzleloader, and learn that hunter is a convicted felon, we will make an arrest and take that person to jail.
If for some reason a judge or plea agreement granted the hunter an exemption to the law, it will get sorted out once the person is in custody.  That is unless the hunter has court-certified paperwork on him or her at the time of the contact with CPW officers. 
And now that you are here, feel free to look around the blog.



Unknown said...

I had a police officer tel me flat out it was legal for me to own and possess a black powder rifle

Chas S. Clifton said...

Unfortunately, "bad advice from a cop" might not hold up as a defense in court. Even if he comes and testifies for you. ;)

Anyway, I quoted the law. You can believe the statute, or you can believe some random cop who might not have read it recently. Maybe what was saying could have been translated as, "I personally won't arrest you, but someone else might."

Just a guess.

Unknown said...

Sir am sorry but you should look up what is considered a firearm. You are right about the firearm law, but you are wrong about a muzzleloader made before 1889 . a inline muzzleloader is illegal because it uses a 109 cap.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Unknown 7:37 a.m.:

You may be thinking about the ATF definition of "Curios & Relics" firearms. That has NOTHING to do with hunting in Colorado, despite what some dude may have told you at a gun show.

Don't believe that guy. Don't listen to some random cop or deputy either — they don't enforce hunting regs.

Do what I did: go to Colorado Parks & Wildlife law enforcement and ask your question.

Ckingak said...

So fellons can't possess or hunt with a bow?

Chas S. Clifton said...

when I researched this question, I was concerned only with guns.

Do what I did: go to Colorado Parks & Wildlife law enforcement and ask your question.

Unknown said...

Well i gess that answers my question felons can't use a black powder rifle or any thing considered a weapon to hunt

Unknown said...

I know this is an old post, but it was one of the first things that came up when I googled whether or not prohibited persons can hunt with a black powder muzzle loader in Colorado, so I think it deserves an update!

Just got off the phone with the CO State Patrol who I asked if a convicted felon can own a black powder muzzle loader in CO, they were unable to give me a straightforward answer (their words, not mine) and referred me to the Denver ATF field office. After speaking with them I confirmed prohibited persons ARE allowed to own black powder muzzle loaders, see here page 2: https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/docs/0501-firearms-top-10-qaspdf/download

My next call was to the Fort Collins Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office, who told me as long as the hunter can legally possess their weapon, they may use it to hunt.

After speaking with the ATF, CSP, and CPW I am confident that a prohibited person may hunt with a black powder muzzle loader in CO.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Unknown commenter:

You will notice that I wrote that post eight years ago. Maybe some policy has changed since then. Good luck to you.

Unknown said...

You can always be like Ted and yse an Atlatle. I am making one. I dare those assholes to tell me a 100,000 year old spear is ILLEGAL...

Ned Kelly said...

I downloaded that atf resource doc you linked above. It says that it is only federally legal. It goes further to say that state regulations supercede federal laws in this situation and to contact the attorney generals office for information. I would worry about the state courts since the federal courts won't save you.

Chuck said...

Legal advise on this matter from a Denver criminal lawyer in 2020 https://youtu.be/eBPcwFRCIDs