NEWS: Colorado Red Flag Bill Becomes Law, Sheriffs Vow Not to Enforce

Original story reported by

Colorado’s controversial “red flag” bill was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Friday, with more than half of the state’s counties declaring opposition to it and many sheriffs promising not to enforce it at all.

Known as the “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” the law will allow a family member, a roommate or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily seize a person’s firearms if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others. Fourteen other states have passed similar legislation.

Still, the law now faces major hurdles, with a pro-gun lobby group promising to challenge it in court. Additionally, a growing number of sheriffs in the state have vowed to ignore the law when it takes effect next year, calling it unconstitutional.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams told CNN last month that he would rather be found in contempt of court and locked up in his own county jail than carry out a court order to seize a person’s weapon.

At least 10 other sheriffs contacted by CNN are lining up behind Reams, saying they are prepared to go to jail rather than enforce a law they believe would violate a person’s constitutional rights.

“How many judges are going to send all the sheriffs in Colorado who are standing up to this to jail?” wondered Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who is among the sheriffs willing to choose jail over enforcement.

Garnett said he wasn’t concerned about sheriffs being locked up. “What I’m going to lose sleep over is, if that’s the choice that they make, and someone loses their life, someone in crisis goes on a shooting spree, (or) someone commits suicide” because a gun wasn’t taken away, he said.

Already, 38 of Colorado’s 64 counties have officially declared their opposition to the bill, and 35 of them have passed formal resolutions against the law. Many of the resolutions declare the jurisdictions to be Second Amendment “sanctuary” or “preservation” counties, and pledge not to allocate resources to enforcement of the law.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser he is “confident that when and if the time comes, all law enforcement officials will follow the rule of law.”

Reams insists he’s not bluffing. So does Prowers County Sheriff Sam Zordel.”I’ve already asked the coroner if he wanted to come over (to the jail) and get some training,” he said, explaining that if he becomes an inmate, the coroner would be tasked with running the county jail.

Others took a more measured approach. “I’m willing to go to my jail for it, the only exception would be a totally extreme case and most sheriffs would agree with that,” said Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw.

The law is meant to be used only in the most extreme cases, but critics believe it will allow for guns to be taken based on a false accusation. A non-partisan analysis of the bill by Colorado’s Legislative Council Staff predicted that the number of false red flag petitions would be minimal, and that the law would only be used 170 times per year.

California and Washington use similar red flag laws even less than that, though a similar law in Maryland is enforced six times more often than the Colorado estimate.

Subscriber Comments

Comment by:
James Kelly

Constitution? What's all the fuss about? Our last president said it was a badly flawed "document".

Comment by:

Our illustrious Utah Representative Handy, a Republican, has proposed such a law. I sent a caustic email to the moron, but he never sent me a reply. That said to me that Handy intended to do as he darn well pleases, despite widespread opposition. These self righteous people want to pass such laws and force them upon us, whether we like it or not.

Comment by:

I worked for Utah Child Protective Services for awhile. More than once, we were weaponized by vindictive neighbors against someone in the neighborhood they had a beef with. We had to investigate every case of alleged child abuse, even those that later turned out to be false. In the same manner, vindictive ex-lovers, ex spouses, neighbors or relatives can merely allege that an individual is “dangerous” for the court to act against the gun-owning individual. The complainant is not required to provide much if any evidence.

Red Flag laws, also called Gun Violence Restraining Orders and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, are gun-confiscation laws disguised as “gun-violence prevention” laws. These abominable laws are being pushed hard at both the state and federal levels.
The stated goal of such a law is “to prevent a person from harming themselves or others.” The law does no such thing! Such laws violate many of our constitutional protections and are fraught with problems. I have read up on the matter and such laws enacted in other states are fraught with the following problems:

1- Such laws stand in violation of the FOURTH AMENDMENT to the United States Constitution, which reads as follows:

“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.”

2—THE ACCUSED PERSON MAY RECEIVE NO NOTICE UNTIL POLICE SHOW UP AT HIS DOOR, PRE-DAWN, WITH GUNS DRAWN – a dangerous situation for everyone involved. It seems reminiscent of the midnight gestapo visits in Nazi Germany.
3–THE ACCUSED IS NOT AFFORDED DUE PROCESS PRIOR TO CONFISCATION OF HIS PROPERTY AND IS ASSUMED TO BE DANGEROUS UNTIL HE PROVES HIMSELF OTHERWISE. Doesn’t that sound like something that isn’t supposed to happen in America, but maybe in Cuba or Venezuela? All this misfortune may be brought down upon the accused ON SOMEONE ELSE’S WORD! The accuser may be a vindictive ex-lover, dating partner, ex-spouse or spouse or even a vindictive neighbor.
5—THE ACCUSED LOSES EVEN IF HE WINS—The accused WILL spend thousands in legal fees and it could even impact his reputation and employment.
As further proof that Red Flag laws are not meant to save lives, but to simply confiscate guns, ask yourself this: “If a person is ‘too dangerous’ to own a gun, then why is that person walking around with the rest of us? Can’t that ‘dangerous’ person still commit suicide or harm others if they have the opportunity?”
Even if the accused is proven to be an abuser and has had his guns confiscated, his mentality is not changed. Knives, baseball bats, ropes, tire irons and even bare hands make excellent murders weapons. No, red flag laws are simply a rational for confiscation of guns. Here’s another thing. If the government has decided it doesn’t want you to own a gun, where does this stop? The government can take any other property it doesn’t want you to have.

Comment by:

Which part is wrong, the part about the sheriff's having an obligation to enforce the laws passed by the legislature until determined unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction or the part about LEOs lives being saved?. The sheriffs taking that position will change their tune as soon as one of their own is killed while responding to a domestic disturbance caused by someone who is or should have been subject to the red flag law.

Comment by:

How many of us have been called various synonyms for unhinged simply because we have guns and aren’t interested in giving them up for some nebulous “public good?” Also, if your a Christian & a Gun owner, that becomes a double whammy. Remember our former Democratic pos President mentioned that .
Today, we could well have had those guns confiscated because someone convinced a judge we were a threat, despite no evidence that we really are.
These laws has been designed to confiscate with Zero burden of proof. Furthermore, what these laws tend to do is become weaponized for a criminal, meaning they can easily and potentially used to disarm victims.
All one has to do is File a red flag order, disarm the target, then murder your helpless victim. .It's a sad day when an American can be stripped of his or her 2nd & Fourth Amendment Rights. Even the fact gun owners are barred from participating in the hearings, arguing their side of the dispute, and facing their accusers. Our Fore-Fathers put the Second Amendment in place to protect all the other Amendments.
Best wake up America, 6 States now have "ZERO DUE PROCESS"...Something Guaranteed by our Constitution....

Comment by:

Are there not laws already in place that allow family members to get power of attorney in cases where people are unstable? How does the state taking their guns get them the help they need? How does it prevent them from getting another gun or a different type of weapon? How is this not just a gun grab? Why is the state doing the families job?

Comment by:

Legislators are elected and take an oarh to defend the constitution, not violate it.

Comment by:

Let me play the.Devil's advocate. Who is going to do the "deeming" as mentioned above when a roommate, wife or friend has an ax to grind with someone who owns guns? How fast is the process? How long before that person is "deemed" fit to have his weapons returned and what is the process to return them? I understand with what is TRYING to be done but saying a person is incompetent to have a weapon has to take some time with a qualified doctor before that person's 2nd amendment is violated. Who names the psychologist to test the person and does the person get a time in court to counter the accusations? Not every mass murderer makes verbal or written actions before going over the edge; a good example is the Las Vegas shooter. Is someone who has been adjudged to have PTSD automatically no allowed to have weapons? There are quite a few of us like that. Also, why are you only highlighting removal of guns? I learned in the military that there are many more ways to kill than pulling a trigger but I like to forget that sometimes, too. BOTTOM LINE: You are looking at what should be a very long and arduous process. Does the person you are trying to say is mentally incompetent have to sit in a mental institute or prison while that process winds its way through discussion? OK, enough Devil's Advocacy -- I hope I have made some good points. One last question: did the people of Colorado vote on this or did the state lawmakers push this through? Hmmmmmm......

Comment by:

You can't have a right temporarily suspended. The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county and has more power than state troopers.

Comment by:

Actually, that is incorrect. Law Enforcement officials do have the right to charge or release people at their discretion, this is well within their powers, I know because I used to be one. These Sheriffs have sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the Laws of some Politicians. As much as those on the Left may dislike it, the U.S. Constitution is still the law of the land.

Comment by:

Local agencies often choose what laws to enforce such as laws pertaining to illegal alien's etc. Sometimes due to governmental interests, avoiding lawsuits or perhaps political strandings of the community. I know this because I'm a officer working for a law enforcement agency. The actions of these Sheriff's in this manner isn't uncommon and will continue as it has in the past.

Comment by:

Sheriff's aren't elected to decide which voter approved laws to enforce and which one's not to enforce. If they wan't to have that kind of job, they should run for a different kind of office.

This law, if it would have been in place, would have saved the lives of people including children and LE officers. Because it was not, mentally unstable people who were openly and clearly presenting themselves as a deadly threat to family or the general public were able to keep their weapons despite pleas by family directly to LE agencies and the AG's office. It's a shame this issue has to be politicized or click bait. If you threaten first responders, schools, malls, movie theaters, your family, etc. with death via social media or other public communication, you now temporarily forfeit your 2nd Amendment rights. Before this law was enacted, you did not.

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