Firearms in Colorado


Colorado has a long history with firearms. Firearms have been used by many groups of people for hundreds of years, beginning with Indigenous Americans before Colorado became a state. In the frontier days, firearms were often used by early settlers for self-protection and hunting.

In 1876, when Colorado became the thirty-eighth state, it included the right to bear arms in its state Constitution:


“The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons”     

- Article II, Section 13


Importantly, the Colorado Constitution affords this right to all persons, not just citizens (Kopel, 2018). Colorado has a large community of ranchers, farmers, hunters, and sport shooters, as well as large populations of service members and veterans. Museums and businesses across the state—such as Old Steel Historical Firearms, Museums of Western Colorado, and  History Colorado—explore and display historical connections between Coloradans and firearms. Today, it is estimated that approximately 45% of Coloradan adults live in households with at least one firearm (Schell et al., 2020).

Included in Colorado’s history with firearms are tragedies such as:

These are critical issues that affect all of Colorado’s communities, and it is important that these concerns are recognized and acknowledged for effective response and prevention.

This Resource Bank aims to present a neutral, evidence-based approach to firearm injury prevention while honoring and respecting the tradition of firearm ownership and use in Colorado.


Colorado-specific resources

Use the website links below to learn more:

  1. Barnard, L.M., Wright-Kelly, E., Brooks-Russell, A. and Betz, M.E. 2023. Characterization of mass shootings by state, 2014-2022. JAMA network open, 6(7):e2325868-e2325868.
  2. CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment). 2022. Colorado Death Statistics. Accessed September 10, 2023.
  3. Kopel, D.B. 2018. The Right to Arms in Nineteenth Century Colorado, 95 Denv. L. Rev. 329. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.du.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=…. Accessed September 10, 2023. 
  4. Schell, T.L., Peterson, S., Vegetabile, B.G., Scherling, A., Smart, R. and Morral, A.R., 2020. State-level estimates of household firearm ownership. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Accessed September 29, 2023.