DENVER – Following a marathon session of testimony, the so-called “red flag” bill passed out of a Colorado house committee on a 7-4 vote late Thursday night.
All House Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill, all Republicans on the committee voted against it.
The bill now moves to the house appropriations committee where it will face another vote.
If signed into law, the bill would allow law enforcement officers or family members to ask a court to temporarily remove guns from a person if they’re determined to be a danger to themselves or others. If a court approves an order to seize weapons from someone deemed a risk, they would be allowed a hearing up to 364 days later to determine if their weapons should be returned or where the order should be extended.
Thirteen states currently have this type of law on their books. A similar bill introduced last year was defeated by Republicans, who held the majority in the Colorado Senate. This year could be different as the House, Senate and Governor’s office are controlled by Democrats.
The bill is sponsored by freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan, (D) of Centennial. He lost his son Alex in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. He was joined by House Majority Leader Rep. Alec Garnett, (D) Denver, Sen. Lois Court, (D) Denver, and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, (D) Lakewood.
During a media event last week, Rep. Sullivan introduced the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act, named after the Douglas County deputy shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 2017 by a mentally ill veteran named Matthew Riehl. Riehl’s mental health concerns were known to his relatives, doctors, and law enforcement prior to shooting.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock is among the supporters of the measure. As he spoke before the committee he commented that Thursday would have been Deputy Parrish’s 31st birthday.
Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell voiced his opposition to the bill in a statement.
“I do not support this bill as it is currently written, I am joining several other Colorado sheriffs who also are opposed to this legislation.”
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder released the following statement:
“My concern with the bill as it is currently written is that it doesn’t allow a person proper due process before taking away their right to possess a firearm. The driving force behind this bill should be mental health treatment, not confiscation of firearms.”
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has come out against the bill, declaring it will “do nothing to prevent another Columbine, Aurora, or Parkland.” The group condemns the legislation stating it is “designed to strip gun owners of their lawfully owned property, without due process, violating both their Second and Fifth Amendment rights,” says RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown.
Brown is joined by Weld County Sheriff Reams and retired Castle Rock Police Commander John Anderson is voicing their opposition to the bill.