EL PASO COUNTY — The 2019 legislative session brought up several bills that quickly became controversial for Coloradans. The "Red Flag Law" was no exception.
The bill passed the Democrat controlled legislature, and went into effect this month. It allows law enforcement to take away someones guns after they're deemed a risk to themselves or others with an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO).
In March, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder shared his opposition to the Red Flag Law with News5's Andy Koen. Elder didn't go as far as other Colorado Sheriffs, who claimed their counties as "2nd amendment sanctuary counties." Instead, Elder noted his deputies would not petition their own orders unless there were "exigent circumstances."
El Paso county commissioners designated the county as a "2nd Amendment Preservation County."
However, if family members petition the courts, Elder will enforce it, provided there's probable cause and a signed search warrant. Elder believes the law doesn't address those aspects of the process enough.
"Absent those circumstances, there is no legitimate purpose for searching someones house under a civil order," Elder said.
The Sheriff says after his statement was released last week, he and the office received death threats.
"My stand on this has not changed, it certainly doesn't rise to the effect of needing to generate threats of death, bodily injury or threat of recall," Elder told reporters on Monday. "people need to take a chill and read our policy and understand our policy is based on sound, constitutional doctrine."
Elder believes his stance is more conservative than other counties.
The bill's sponsor was Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son died in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. He and other supporters say the legislation is needed to prevent mass shootings, or gun violence instances such as a shooting that killed Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish in 2017.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock supported the legislation.
Parrish's case, is what Sheriff Elder considers an "exigent circumstance" that would warrant an ERPO from the sheriff's office.
While Elder will enforce the law, he is also prepared to join a lawsuit challenging the law. Elder says in order for a lawsuit to be filed, there would need to be a case to challenge in the courts.
As far as how his deputies are enforcing the law, Elder says he doesn't foresee any citizens filing lawsuits against the sheriff's office.
Several other states have enacted "Red Flag Laws" in recent years.