If you use your banjo for, say, pickin', you're all good. If you use it for hittin', such as in the case of 33-year-old Joseph Stancato, you're not.
Stancato, of Denver, hit another man upside the head with his banjo on New Year's Eve after getting into a fight with the man and the man's friend at an Aspen bus stop. He was charged with assault and, according to a widely circulated Associated Press story that tells of a judge's ruling allowing Stancato to tour with his band while awaiting his next court date, he could face prison time because a banjo is considered a "deadly weapon" under Colorado law.
We here at Westword wanted more proof of that fact, so we e-mailed the Aspen police to ask about the law.
Community relations Officer Stephanie Dasaro quoted it for us.
Under Colorado Revised Statutes, a "deadly weapon" is defined as any of the following which in the manner it is used or intended to be used is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury: I) firearm, loaded or unloaded, II) knife, III) a bludgeon; or IV) any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance.
See? It says the word instrument. And that's too bad for Stancato.