DENVER – The Colorado Senate has passed the Extreme Risk Protections Orders bill following three days of delays and debate on the hotly contested measure. The vote was 18 in favor, 17 opposed.
The so-called ‘Red Flag’ bill now returns to the Colorado House to consider the amendments attached in the Senate. If that goes through without issue, it will go to Governor Polis to be signed into law.
Commissioners in roughly half of the counties in Colorado have passed measures in opposition, some now considering themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
Today, The Aurora Police Association joined the Denver Police Protective Association in voicing opposition.
“The Aurora Police Association joins the Denver Police Protective Association in opposing the proposed HB19-1177 “the red flag bill” now under consideration in the Colorado legislature. Our members have clearly expressed to us their concerns about the constitutionality of such legislation and are deeply concerned about the lack of due process in the bill. Police officers understand the value in addressing the real problem, the mental health of individuals in crisis. The problem cannot be successfully addressed by restricting access to tools while ignoring mental health considerations.”
-The Aurora Police Association
“We stand with our members, sheriffs, and law-abiding citizens who oppose this legislation. We encourage our elected officials to continue the conversation and include all stakeholders as we strive to keep our communities safe.”
-Denver Police Protective Association
RELATED: 360° Perspective: Red flag laws
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.
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.
News5 spoke with El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder about the bill earlier this month.
Elder says, “We support the rule of law,” and as a result, his Deputies must carry out court orders even if they disagree, and he disagrees. At the same time, he is echoing the concern of other law enforcement leaders when it comes to the practicality and measures that may be needed in order to secure weapons in the possession of people deemed to be a risk by court order.
As for his disagreements with how the bill is written, Elder says the county will file a lawsuit to have the courts address the issue of due process. “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,” says Elder.
Opponents have referenced the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which in part provides protections for due process.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
There’s also an argument in opposition which references illegal search and seizure, which we are protected against by the Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
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.