Colorado Firearm Possession and Transfer

Colorado enacted two laws affecting all gun owners and any person in the presence of a firearm. The first law prohibits the sale, transfer or possession of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds. The second law requires a background check anytime there is a transfer of possession of a firearm. Both laws go into effect on July 1, 2013. Between now and July 1, 2013, does a transfer of firearms and magazines to a trust make sense? We think it just might.

Starting on July 1, 2013, the sale, possession or transfer of a “High Capacity” magazine in Colorado is a crime. The correct term is not high capacity magazine but large capacity magazine.

A person who owns a large capacity magazine prior to July 1, 2013 and maintains continuous possession after that date has a defense to being charged with violation of the law. In layperson terms, existing large capacity magazines are not subject to forfeiture, today. However, upon death, the large capacity magazine is forfeited. We believe an individual’s best opportunity to avoid forfeiture is a properly drafted Rocky Mountain Gun Trust because the trust does not “die.” A Rocky Mountain Gun Trust can exist for hundreds of years making the large capacity magazines in the trust available for future generations.

Starting on July 1, 2013, all transfers of possession of a Colorado firearm require a timely background check. This goes far beyond a sale and transfer of ownership. Any transfer of possession requires an analysis of whether a background check is needed. Want to loan your hunting rifle to your neighbor for a 4 day hunting trip? Background check required. Want to gift or loan your firearm to a boyfriend/girlfriend? Background check required. Want to gift or loan your firearm to a family member? Better be sure they are within the defined exception. Are you in immediate fear of bodily injury and death and not in your own home? As silly as it sounds, you need a background check before you can take possession of a firearm and defend yourself. After June 30, 2013, any transfer of possession, no matter how temporary and no matter how good the reason, now requires some thought and analysis about a background check. We believe the use of a properly drafted Rocky Mountain Gun Trust avoids the need for background checks for currently owned firearms if the trust is properly drafted and implemented prior to July 1, 2013.

Gun trusts are not new, but are a time-proven tool when properly drafted and tailored to firearm issues. Gun trusts are very popular with people who purchase firearms restricted by the National Firearms Act (the “NFA”). Certain firearms (silencers, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns and automatic firearms) require application to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (the “BATF” or “ATF”) and payment of a $200.00 stamp tax before a person can take possession of the restricted, NFA firearm. We have drafted hundreds of these trusts over the last ten years.

Between now and July 1, 2013, there is a unique window available to Colorado gun owners and owners of large capacity magazines. A trust concept is one way to preserve the family firearms and magazines for multiple generations while allowing the firearms to be in the possession of multiple individuals without violating Colorado’s new transfer of possession law. Call us at 303-273-2923 or use the contact us form to request more information. This column is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with the reader. Due to limited space, complex legal concepts and rules may be stated in terms of general concepts. Based on 2011 Colorado and Federal law. Consult legal counsel before acting on any information contained in this column.
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