State Right to Bear Arms in Wisconsin

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Last Updated July 7, 2015

Article I, § 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution, adopted in 1998, states: “[t]he people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”1

Although the Supreme Court of Wisconsin has found that the state right to bear arms is a fundamental right, it has also held that the right is subject to reasonable regulation. In State v. Cole, the court upheld a law prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons because the law was “a reasonable regulation on the time, place, and manner in which the right to bear arms may be exercised.”2

However, in  State v. Hamdan, a companion case to Cole, the supreme court carved out an exception to this law and reaffirmed the constitutional right to bear arms for the purpose of security.3 The court emphasized that the state may regulate firearms under its police power, noting that “only if the public benefit in . . . exercise of the police power [to regulate firearms] is substantially outweighed by an individual’s need to conceal a weapon in the exercise of the right to bear arms will an otherwise valid restriction on that right be unconstitutional as applied.”4

Following an extensive review of statutory and case law from other jurisdictions pertaining to both the carrying of concealed weapons and the right to “bear arms,” the court found that the defendant had a constitutional right under Article I, Section 25 to “keep and bear arms for the lawful purpose of security at the time he carried his concealed weapon . . . .” and reversed the defendant’s conviction.5

The court noted that “[i]f the constitutional right to keep and bear arms for security is to mean anything, it must, as a general matter, permit a person to possess, carry, and sometimes conceal arms to maintain the security of his private residence or privately operated business, and to safely move and store weapons within these premises.”6

In determining if an Article I, § 25 challenge to a concealed weapons prosecution may be raised, however, the court held that a defendant will be required to affirmatively answer whether: 1) under the circumstances, the defendant’s interest in concealing a firearm to “facilitate exercise of his or her right to keep and bear arms” substantially outweighed the state’s interest in enforcing the concealed weapons statute; and 2) the defendant concealed the firearm because concealment was “the only reasonable means under the circumstances to exercise his or her right to bear arms.”7

Following the principles of Cole and Hamdan , the Supreme Court of Wisconsin dismissed another constitutional challenge to a concealed weapons prosecution under § 941.23 in State v. Fisher.8 The defendant, a tavern owner, argued that he kept a loaded gun in the center console of his car for security purposes because he routinely transported large amounts of cash generated by his business. The supreme court balanced the defendant’s interest in exercising his right to bear arms by concealing a firearm for purposes of security against the state’s interest in enforcing the concealed weapons statute, and concluded that “carrying a concealed and dangerous weapon in a vehicle will generally be contrary to the state’s interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of Wisconsin citizens.”9 The court upheld the defendant’s concealed weapons conviction and noted that this state regulation generally will not present any constitutional challenge, “except in extraordinary circumstances.”1011

  1. Wis. Const. art I, § 25. []
  2. State v. Cole, 2003 WI 112, ¶ 28, 264 Wis. 2d 520, ¶ 28, 665 N.W.2d 328, ¶ 28. []
  3. 2003 WI 113, 264 Wis. 2d 433, 665 N.W.2d 785 (2003). []
  4. State v. Hamdan, 2003 WI 113, ¶ 46, 264 Wis. 2d 433, ¶ 46, 665 N.W.2d 785, ¶ 46. []
  5. Id. at ¶ 46 (emphasis added). []
  6. Id. at ¶ 68. []
  7. Id. at ¶ 86. []
  8. 2006 WI 44, 290 Wis. 2d 121, 714 N.W.2d 495. []
  9. Id. at 148-49. []
  10. Id. at 149. []
  11. See also State v. Thomas, 2004 WI App 115, ¶¶ 8-12, 274 Wis. 2d 513, ¶¶ 8-12, 683 N.W.2d 497, ¶¶ 8-12 (2004) (rejecting an Art. I, § 25 challenge to Wis. Stat. § 941.29, which prohibits a felon from possessing a weapon, on the ground that the legislative history of the constitutional provision indicates both an intent to preserve pre-existing firearm regulations and the legislature’s authority to restrict firearm possession by felons). []

State Right to Bear Arms in Alabama

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Last Updated July 7, 2015

Article I, § 26 of the Alabama Constitution sets forth the right of a private individual to bear arms. In 2014, voters approved a radical amendment to this provision making it easier to challenge state and local gun laws in court. Article I, § 26 now reads:

“(a) Every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state.  Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

(b) No citizen shall be compelled by any international treaty or international law to take an action that prohibits, limits, or otherwise interferes with his or her fundamental right to keep and bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state, if such treaty or law, or its adoption, violates the United States Constitution.”1

The 2014 amendment forces state courts to review gun laws under the technical and confusing judicial standard known as “strict scrutiny.” Laws evaluated under strict scrutiny—the toughest form of judicial review—are struck down more frequently by the courts because the standard is so high.

Very few courts in the nation apply this level of review to cases challenging gun laws. Using this standard, the court asks whether the law furthers a compelling government interest using the most narrowly tailored means to achieve that interest.

In the limited number of cases in which courts have applied strict scrutiny review to gun laws, the laws are most often struck down. Since the 2014 amendment, Alabama courts have yet to review a challenge to a gun law. Examples of measures outside of Alabama that have been invalidated under this standard include laws that:

  • ban transporting or possessing firearms outside of the home during a state of emergency2
  • ban guns in bars and other establishments where alcohol is sold or consumed on the premises3
  • ban possession of guns by individuals previously convicted of misdemeanor gun possession4
  • require that a person be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for a firearms license5
  • ban the sale or transfer of firearms within city limits6
  • ban the operation of shooting ranges within city limits7

Prior to the 2014 amendment, the Supreme Court of Alabama had long taken the position that the right to “bear arms” under the Alabama Constitution may be regulated by the state. In 1840, in State v. Reid, the court rejected an Article I, § 26 challenge to a statute authorizing criminal penalties for individuals convicted of carrying a concealed weapon.8 The court concluded, “The Constitution, in declaring that ‘every citizen has the right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state,’ has neither expressly nor by implication denied to the Legislature the right to enact laws in regard to the manner in which arms shall be borne.”9

The Alabama Supreme Court has also rejected other Article I, § 26 challenges to state firearms statutes.10 However, whether those decisions will be followed in light of the 2014 amendment is an open question.

  1. Ala. Const., § 26. []
  2. Bateman v. Perdue, 881 F. Supp. 2d 709 (E.D.N.C. 2012). []
  3. Taylor v. City of Baton Rouge, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117919 (M.D. La., Aug. 25, 2014). []
  4. Gowder v. City of Chicago, 923 F. Supp. 2d 1110 (N.D. Ill. 2012). []
  5. Fletcher v. Haas, 851 F. Supp. 2d 287 (D. Mass. 2012). []
  6. Illinois Ass’n of Firearms Retailers v. City of Chicago, 961 F. Supp. 2d 928 (N.D. Ill. 2014). []
  7. Ezell v. City of Chicago, 651 F.3d 684 (7th Cir. 2011). []
  8. 1 Ala. 612 (Ala. 1840). []
  9. Reid, 1 Ala. at 616 []
  10. See Isaiah v. State, 58 So. 53 (Ala. 1911) (rejecting an Article I, § 26 challenge to a statute [Ala. Code § 13A-11-52] prohibiting a person from openly carrying a pistol while on another’s premises); Davenport v. State, 20 So. 971 (Ala. 1895) (rejecting an Article I, § 26 challenge to a state law barring any person from pointing a loaded or unloaded firearm at another person). See also Bristow v. State, 418 So. 2d 927 (Ala. Crim. App. 1982) (rejecting an Article I, § 26 challenge to a statute [Alabama Code § 13A-11-72(a)] prohibiting a person previously convicted of a violent crime from possessing a pistol); Dickerson v. State, 517 So. 2d 625 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986) (rejecting another Article I, § 26 challenge to Alabama Code § 13A-11-72(a), rev’d on other grounds by Ex parte Dickerson, 517 So. 2d 628 (Ala. 1987). []

State Right to Bear Arms in Louisiana

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Article I, § 11 of the Louisiana State Constitution currently provides: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed.  Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” This was the result of a constitutional amendment, enacted via ballot measure in 2012. Prior to this amendment, Article I, § 11 had read: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.”

In a 1977 case, State v. Amos, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected a challenge based on the original version of Article I, § 11 to a state statute that prohibited individuals convicted of certain felonies from carrying firearms.1 The court held that the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute, and that the state may use its police power to regulate any of the rights present in the Louisiana Constitution “in order to protect the public health, safety, morals or general welfare so long as that regulation is a reasonable one.”2

In State v. Blanchard, a 2001 case, the court reaffirmed its pronouncements in Amos when holding that a state statute providing enhanced penalties for the constructive possession of a firearm while committing a crime of violence, or while possessing or selling drugs, was a reasonable regulation under the Louisiana Constitution.3 The court found “a rational relationship between the statute’s scope, i.e., making it a felony for a person to possess a firearm in connection with a drug offense, even a misdemeanor drug offense, and its legitimate state purpose of preventing drug-related violence.”4

Following the 2012 amendment to Louisiana’s constitutional right to bear arms provision, which required the application of strict scrutiny, state courts faced a wave of litigation aimed at statutes regulating firearm possession by convicted felons.  Despite the removal of an explicit license to regulate concealed weapons, and the imposition of the highest standard of review, several statutes regulating firearm possession have thus far survived review in the Louisiana courts.

In 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court held, in State v. Draughter, that the state’s felon-in-possession statute, as applied to a convicted felon under state supervision, survived strict scrutiny.5  The court ruled that “[f]or these persons still under state supervision, we easily find there to be a compelling state interest for the state’s limited infringement of even fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to possess a firearm.”6 The court found that the statute both served a compelling state interest and was narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.7

Similarly, in State v. Eberhardt, a 2014 decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the state felon-in-possession statute both facially and as applied to a defendant previously convicted of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.8 As required by the 2012 constitutional amendment, the court analyzed the challenged law using strict scrutiny. In upholding the felon-in-possession statute, the court held that the law “serves a compelling governmental interest that has long been jurisprudentially recognized and is grounded in the legislature’s intent to protect the safety of the general public from felons convicted of specified serious crimes…[and] is narrowly tailored in its application to the possession of firearms or the carrying of concealed weapons for a period of only ten years from the date of completion of sentence, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, and to only those convicted of the enumerated felonies determined by the legislature to be offenses having the actual or potential danger of harm to other members of the general public.”9.

Finally, the Louisiana Supreme Court also held in 2014 that the legislature retained the ability to pass laws regarding the carrying of concealed weapons, despite the 2012 amendment to the state’s constitution.10  In ruling that the challenged statutes regulating concealed carry and prohibiting juvenile handgun possession except under certain circumstances passed review under strict scrutiny, the court held that “[t]he right to keep and bear arms, like other rights guaranteed by [the] state constitution, is not absolute.”11 The court found “‘a long history, a substantial consensus, and simple common sense’ to be sufficient evidence for even a strict scrutiny review.”12 The court concluded that “the drafters and ratifiers [of the 2012 constitutional amendment] did not intend to invalidate the existing law restricting the carrying of concealed weapons, or to restrict the legislature’s authority to pass laws on that subject.”13

  1. 343 So. 2d 166 (La. 1977). []
  2. Id. at 168. []
  3. 776 So. 2d 1165 (La. 2001). []
  4. Id. at 1173. See also State v. Wiggins, 432 So. 2d 234, 237 (La. 1983) (upholding a felon-in-possession statute); State v. Hamlin, 497 So. 2d 1369, 1371 (La. 1986) (upholding a statute requiring the registration of “weapons whose customary use in times of peace was in perpetration of crime”). []
  5. 130 So. 3d 855 (La. 2013). []
  6. Id. at 867. []
  7. Id. at 867-68. []
  8. 145 So. 3d 377 (La. 2014); see also State v. Griffin, NO. 14-KA-450, 2014 La. App. LEXIS 3001 (La. Ct. App. Dec. 16, 2014) (upholding a felon-in-possession statute, as applied to a convicted felon still under state supervision); State v. Williams, 138 So. 3d 727 (La. Ct. App. 2014) (upholding a felon-in-possession statute, as applied to a convicted felon on parole). []
  9. Eberhardt, 145 So. 3d at 385 []
  10. State ex rel. J.M., 144 So. 3d 853 (La. 2014). []
  11. Id. at 860. []
  12. Id. at 861. []
  13. Id. at 864. []

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Illinois

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Traditionally, Illinois had broadly permitted the local regulation of firearms. A law adopted by the General Assembly in 2013, however, significantly curtailed this broad authority in several areas.1 The Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card Act of 2013 requires an individual to obtain a license called a FOID Card before acquiring or possessing any firearm or ammunition. The amended FOID Card Act states:

…the regulation, licensing, possession, and registration of handguns and ammunition for a handgun, and the transportation of any firearm and ammunition, including but not limited to the delivery of ammunition by the United States Postal Service or other courier, by a holder of a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued by the Department of State Police under this Act are exclusive powers and functions of this State.2

According to the amended FOID Card Act, any ordinance or regulation, or portion thereof, enacted on or before the date of the Amendment (July 9, 2013) that imposed regulations or restrictions on a holder of a valid FOID Card in a manner that is inconsistent with the FOID Card Act, is invalid in its application to a holder of a valid FOID Card.3

The amended FOID Card Act also deems the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons an exclusive power of the state, and provides that any ordinance that regulates the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner inconsistent with the amended FOID Card Act is invalid.4 For purposes of this provision, “assault weapons” are defined as firearms designated by either make or model or by a test or list of cosmetic features that cumulatively would place the firearm into a definition of “assault weapon” under the ordinance.5 The Act allows ordinances regulating the possession or ownership of assault weapons that were adopted on, before, or within 10 days after July 9, 2013 to remain in force.6

However, the amended FOID Card Act left in place a provision that states that, except as described above, “[t]he provisions of any ordinance enacted by any municipality which requires registration or imposes greater restrictions or limitations on the acquisition, possession and transfer of firearms than are imposed by [the FOID Card Act], are not invalidated or affected by this Act.”7 “Municipality” is defined to include cities, villages or incorporated towns, but not townships, counties or park districts.8

The amended FOID Card Act explicitly states that its provisions are a denial and limitation of home rule powers and functions under Art. VII, § 6(h) of the Illinois Constitution.910

The 2013 law also created a licensing system for the carrying of concealed handguns.  As part of that system, the 2013 law states:

The regulation, licensing, possession, registration, and transportation of handguns and ammunition for handguns by [concealed handgun] licensees are exclusive powers and functions of the State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion thereof, enacted on or before [July 9, 2013] that purports to impose regulations or restrictions on licensees or handguns and ammunition for handguns in a manner inconsistent with this Act shall be invalid in its application to licensees under this Act on [July 9, 2013]. This Section is a denial and limitation of home rule powers and functions under [Ill. Const., Art. VII, § 6(h)].11

Following these major alterations to local regulatory authority involving firearms, the permissible scope of cities and counties in Illinois to regulate firearms has narrowed. For further information about preemption in Illinois, please contact the Law Center directly.

  1. 2013 ILL. ALS 63, 2013 Ill. Laws 63, 2013 ILL. P.A. 63, 2013 ILL. HB 183. By way of background, in June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments. McDonald v. Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010). In so ruling, the Court reversed a U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the dismissal of Second Amendment challenges to handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. This right, as first delineated in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), guarantees the individual right of a law-abiding citizen to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. McDonald effectively rendered unconstitutional handgun possession bans in Chicago, Oak Park and other Illinois communities, to the extent that their bans restricted gun possession in the home for self-defense. Heller and McDonald also implicitly overruled (or at least diminished the impact of) Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove, 470 N.E.2d 266 (Ill. 1984), a key Supreme Court of Illinois decision that held that when the state enacts statutes that relate to the ownership, possession or sale of firearms, it does not preempt the field of firearms regulation, but permits local laws further regulating or restricting firearms. []
  2. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.1(b). []
  3. Id. []
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.1(c). []
  5. Id. []
  6. Id. []
  7. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.1 []
  8. 65 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1-1-2(1). []
  9. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.1(e). []
  10. The Illinois Constitution grants home rule units broad authority to “exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare….” Ill. Const. Art. VII, § 6(a). The only limits on a home rule unit’s autonomy are those imposed by the Constitution, or by the legislature exercising its authority to preempt home rule where it specifically declares its exercise to be exclusive. See Ill. Const. Art. VII, § 6(g), (h), (i). To do this, the General Assembly must pass a statute expressly preempting home rule authority and stating what particular home rule powers are preempted. See, e.g.City of Chicago v. Roman, 705 N.E.2d 81, 86-89 (1998) (discussing preemption of home rule authority under Illinois constitution). A “home rule” unit is defined as a “[c]ounty which has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county and any municipality which has a population of more than 25,000….Other municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule units.” Ill. Const., Art. VII, § 6(a). []
  11. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 66/90. []

State Right to Bear Arms in Illinois

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Article 1, section 22 of the Illinois Constitution reads: “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”1 Illinois case law provides support for the proposition that most reasonable firearms regulations are valid under art. I § 22.

In a 1982 case, Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an article I, § 22 challenge to a local ordinance (No. 81-11) prohibiting the possession of handguns within the Village’s borders.2 The court affirmed the lower court decision upholding the ordinance, finding in relevant part “that the right to keep and bear arms in Illinois is so limited by the police power that a ban on handguns does not violate that right.”3 The court went on to note that:

[S]ection 22 simply prohibits an absolute ban on all firearms….There is no right under the Illinois Constitution to possess a handgun, nor does the state have an overriding state interest in gun control which requires it to retain exclusive control….Once a local government identifies a problem and enacts legislation to mitigate or eliminate it, that enactment is presumed valid and may be overturned only if it is unreasonable, clearly arbitrary, and has no foundation in the police power.4

Therefore, since Morton Grove presented “at least some empirical evidence” that gun control legislation may reduce deaths and accidents caused by handguns, the court held that the ordinance was a valid exercise of the Village’s police power.5

Just two years later, the Illinois Supreme Court reached the same conclusion in Kalodimos v. Village of Morton Grove, which also involved a challenge to Ordinance 81-11.6 The state supreme court concluded that article I, § 22 permits extensive regulation of firearms under the state’s police power and the municipal home rule power, including prohibitions on a particular class of firearms. The court upheld the Village’s ordinance, finding that it “bears a rational relation to the goal of reducing weapons-related injuries and accidents.”7

  1. Illinois Const., Art. I, § 22. []
  2. 695 F.2d 261 (7th Cir. 1982). []
  3. Id. at 267. []
  4. Id. at 268. []
  5. Id. at 268-269. []
  6. 470 N.E.2d 266 (Ill. 1984). []
  7. Id. at 279; see also City of Chicago v. Taylor, 774 N.E.2d 22 (Ill. App. Ct. 2002) (holding that Chicago’s firearms registration ordinance does not violate the state constitutional right to bear arms provision because it does not prevent a person from bearing arms, but rather allows an individual to legally possess a firearm once that firearm has been properly registered); Sklar v. Byrne, 727 F.2d 633 (7th Cir. 1984) (rejecting an article I, § 22 challenge to Chicago ordinances regulating handgun possession and registration, stressing that an individual’s right to bear arms is narrow and subject to extensive regulation); People v. Robinson, 964 N.E.2d 551, 556-57 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011) (refusing to revisit the Illinois Supreme Court’s holding from Kalodimos, which “applied the rational basis test and upheld a city ordinance absolutely prohibiting the possession of handguns.”). []

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Louisiana

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated § 40:1796 provides:

A. No governing authority of a political subdivision shall enact after July 15, 1985, any ordinance or regulation more restrictive than state law concerning in any way the sale, purchase, possession, ownership, transfer, transportation, license, or registration of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or ammunition; however, [section 40:1796] shall not apply to the levy and collection of sales and use taxes, license fees and taxes and permit fees, nor shall it affect the authority of political subdivisions to prohibit the possession of a weapon or firearm in certain commercial establishments and public buildings.

B. Nothing in [section 40:1796] shall prohibit a local governing authority in a high-risk area from developing a plan with federally licensed firearms manufacturers, dealers, or importers to secure the inventory of firearms and ammunition of those licensees in order to prevent looting of the licensee’s premises during a declared state of emergency or disaster. Such plan shall be renewed on a periodic basis. The information contained in the plan shall be deemed security procedures as defined in [section 44:3.1] and shall be released only to the sheriffs of the parishes or police chiefs of municipalities in which the declared state of emergency or disaster exists.1

Pursuant to section 33:120, parishes (governmental units akin to counties) in Louisiana are “authorized to zone in order to prohibit, restrict, or regulate hunting and the shooting of firearms in the heavily populated areas,” as determined by parish governing authorities. In addition, municipalities with a population in excess of 425,000 may initiate firearms buyback programs, subject to certain state guidelines.2

Finally, section 33:1236 provides that parish governing authorities may regulate the use of air rifles within the limits of the parish, which includes the authority to make necessary rules and regulations and provide penalties for violations.3

There is no relevant case law interpreting these statutes.

  1. La. Rev. Stat. § 40:1796. []
  2. La. Rev. Stat. § 33:4879. []
  3. La. Rev. Stat. § 33:1236. []

Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines in Colorado

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2015

Colorado prohibits the sale, transfer and possession of a “large-capacity magazine.”1

“Large-capacity magazine” means:

  • A fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device capable of accepting, or that is designed to be readily converted to accept, more than 15 rounds of ammunition;
  • A fixed, tubular shotgun magazine that holds more than 28 inches of shotgun shells, including any extension device that is attached to the magazine and holds additional shotgun shells; or
  • A nontubular, detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device that is capable of accepting more than eight shotgun shells when combined with a fixed magazine.2

“Large-capacity magazine” does not include:

  • A feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than fifteen rounds of ammunition;
  • An attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 rimfire ammunition; or
  • A tubular magazine that is contained in a lever-action firearm.3

A large-capacity magazine that is manufactured in Colorado after July 1, 2013, must include a permanent stamp or marking indicating that the large-capacity magazine was manufactured or assembled after July 1, 2013.  The stamp or marking must be legibly and conspicuously engraved or cast upon the outer surface of the large-capacity magazine.  The Colorado Bureau of Investigation may create rules for implementing this requirement, including additional identification information on each large-capacity magazine.4

Exceptions – A person may possess a large-capacity magazine if they owned the large-capacity magazine on or prior to July 1, 2013, and maintain continuous possession of the magazine.5  When a person charged with illegal possession of a large-capacity magazine claims to fall under this exception, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove otherwise.6

The large-capacity magazine ban does not apply to military or police agents that carry a firearm in the course of their official duties.  The ban also does not apply to an entity or employee of an entity engaged in the manufacture of large-capacity magazines within Colorado solely for transfer to any licensed gun dealer that sells large-capacity magazines exclusively to the armed forces, government agencies, a retailer operating outside of the state of Colorado, or a foreign national government approved by the U.S. for such transfers.7

See our Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302(1)(a). A violation of this prohibition will be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor, and it is a Class 6 felony to possess a large-capacity magazine during the commission of a felony or crime of violence. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302(1)(a), (c). []
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-301(2)(a). []
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-301(2)(b). []
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-303. []
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302(2)(a). []
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302(2)(b). []
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302(3). []

Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Colorado

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2015

See our Prohibited Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is required to deny the transfer of a firearm when:

  • The transfer would violate federal law;
  • The transfer would violate Colorado law;
  • The transferee has been arrested for or charged with a crime that would prohibit him or her from purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law, and there has been no final disposition of the case or the final disposition has not been noted in the databases searched by CBI during a firearm transferee’s background check; or
  • The transferee is the subject of an indictment, information or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year as defined by federal law.1

Colorado prohibits any person from knowingly possessing, using, or carrying upon his or her person a firearm subsequent to:

  • The person’s conviction for a felony, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state’s law or under federal law; or
  • The person’s adjudication for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state’s law or under federal law.2

For provisions prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing guns, see Domestic Violence and Firearms in Colorado.

Firearm transfers by unlicensed sellers (non-firearms dealers) are subject to background checks in Colorado. See the  Universal Background Checks in Colorado section.

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a), (b). []
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108(1), (3). []

Alabama State Law Summary

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2015



While Alabama does require handgun dealers to obtain a state license, this requirement does not apply to dealers who only sell rifles and shotguns. In addition, Alabama does not:

Local governments in Alabama generally lack authority to regulate firearms or ammunition.

In 2013, Alabama had the sixth highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. In addition, based on data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (“MAIG”), in 2009 Alabama ranked fifth among the states in the rate of crime gun exports – guns originally purchased in that state that were recovered after being used in a crime in another state. Alabama exports crime guns at a rate that is more than double the national average, and more than double the rate at which it imports crime guns from other states.

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Colorado

Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2015

In Colorado, any person under age 18 may not knowingly possess a handgun, except:

  • When in attendance at a hunter’s or firearms safety course;
  • During lawful firearm or target shooting;
  • During certain organized competitions or performances;
  • When hunting or trapping with a valid state license;
  • When traveling to or from such activities as previously noted;
  • When on property under the control of the person’s parent, legal guardian or grandparent with the permission of such person’s parent, legal guardian or grandparent; or
  • When at the person’s residence, with the permission of the person’s parent or legal guardian, for the purpose of lawful self-defense.1

Colorado does not provide a minimum age to possess rifles or shotguns. Colorado also provides no minimum age for the purchase of a handgun or a long gun, although federal age restrictions still apply.

For additional age-related restrictions, see the Colorado Child Access Prevention section.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108.5(1), (2). []