January 24, 2011

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

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.


socialfilter said...

The federal law reads differently so I'm interested in finding out if the colorado state law trumps the federal law. I'm assuming it does considering the legalization of marijuana in colorado even though it's illegal federally. Not that any of this matters much even if black powder guns are legal for felons (like me) what are the chances that I'll run into a cop who knows the law!? No, in my experience what would happen is I would go straight to jail and even if, in the end, I was found to be in the right I would've spent thousands of dollars and possibly months in jail while going to trial. I think I'll stick to hiking and the grocery store

Chas Clifton said...

I can't answer all your questions, but I do know that it is possible for a felon to petition for restoration of gun rights in Colorado after a period of years. A friend of mine is waiting out that period now. He will have to apply to some governmental board, get letters of support, etc.

Josh Green said...

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

Chas 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.