DENVER – The Colorado Senate has once again delayed the third and final vote on the so-called “red flag” bill.
So far, Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) has not stated how he will vote. Even if he votes against, Republicans would still need one more Democrat to cast a ‘no’ vote in order to defeat the measure.
A second vote Friday evening followed hours of debate on the Second Amendment and due process on the Senate floor. If it passes a third vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it will return to the House for consideration of the amendments.
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.
Here’s the background on this hotly debated bill.
If passed, there would be a legal process to 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.
Many counties have passed resolutions in opposition to this bill. Several sheriffs have also voiced opposition.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser supports the passage. “I believe the Heller Decision is quite clear, the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not absolute,” Weiser said.
He went on to say that he’s confident his office can and will defeat any legal challenge to the bill. Senator Rhonda Fields then asked Weiser what would happen if a county sheriff still decided not to uphold the law, even after the legal challenge. While he thought such a scenario was unlikely, Weiser went on to say that such a move would be inappropriate.
“If a sheriff cannot follow the law, the sheriff cannot do his or her job,” Weiser said. “Which means, the right thing to do for a sheriff who says ‘I cannot follow the law’ is to resign. It is not to disobey the law.”
Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) is opposed to the measure and had the following to say about Weiser’s testimony, “This is the same guy who wants to say we’re going to sue Trump for things we don’t like, is telling people, ‘hey you should resign if you don’t want to enforce unconstitutional laws,’” Hill said. “That is hypocrisy to the fullest.”
Supporters of the bill include Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. Spurlock’s office lost Deputy Zackari Parrish on New Year’s Eve 2017 when he was shot and killed 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 and Sheriff Spurlock has publicly stated his belief that a red flag law, sometimes called a gun restraining order, could have prevented the violence.
The bill’s sponsor is freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan, (D) of Centennial who lost his son Alex in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. He will be joined by House Majority Leader Rep. Alec Garnett, (D) Denver, Sen. Lois Court, (D) Denver, and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, (D) Lakewood.