DENVER – New legislation that would enable law enforcement officers or family members to ask a court to temporarily remove the firearms of a person who could be a danger to themselves was introduced at the State Capitol Thursday afternoon.
The Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act is named after Deputy Parrish who was 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 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.
“I’m here in the legislature to make sure that what happened to my family and my son doesn’t happen to others,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan. His son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting. “This Extreme Risk Protection Order is about saving lives.” pic.twitter.com/N2s18prGn0
— Andy Koen (@KOAAAndyKoen) February 14, 2019
Additional attendees include Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, Columbine High School student Kaylee Tyner, and Jane Daugherty who lost her sister in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012.
“This is about people who are an extreme risk,” explains Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. He adds that the bill temporarily removes weapons that can be returned after completion of behavioral health treatment.
The mass shootings at Sandy Hook and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School were mentioned during the media event as both were committed by young men with a history of behavioral and mental issues. Today is the first anniversary of the shootings in Parkland, Florida.
In response, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners released a statement declaring, “The bill 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.”
“Often the gun owner is the victim of an ex-spouse or former girlfriend seeking revenge, and only learns of the police action once his door is broken down by a SWAT team,” says RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown.
The nation’s largest gun owners group, the NRA, has voiced support for extreme risk protection orders as recently as March 2018 in the wake of the shootings at Parkland.
A video released at the time featured the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox, who says, “The NRA believes that anyone who is a danger to themselves or others should not be allowed to have a firearm. Any firearm. Period.”