Legislature gives final approval to `red flag' bill

Polis has promised to sign measure enabling removal of guns from those deemed threats

James Anderson
Associated Press
Posted 4/5/19

The Democrat-controlled Colorado Legislature sent a “red flag” bill to the governor that calls for taking firearms from people who could pose a threat to themselves or others. Gov. Jared Polis, …

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Legislature gives final approval to `red flag' bill

Polis has promised to sign measure enabling removal of guns from those deemed threats

Posted

The Democrat-controlled Colorado Legislature sent a “red flag” bill to the governor that calls for taking firearms from people who could pose a threat to themselves or others.

Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat, has pledged to sign the measure that would place the state among 13 others that have passed such legislation. Florida passed its law after the 2018 Parkland school massacre.

The state House voted 38-25 on April 1 to approve Senate amendments to the bill.

The bill would allow family, household members or law enforcement to petition a court to have guns seized or surrendered. A subsequent court hearing could extend a gun seizure up to 364 days.

The bill places the burden of proof on the gun owner to get the firearms back by showing that he or she no longer poses a risk.

Republicans repeatedly sought to shift that burden of proof to those seeking the protective order. They argued the legislation offers no due process to gun owners.

Republicans also say it violates constitutional rights and could lead to violent confrontations if a judge orders police to confiscate firearms from a resistant owner.

Republican Party members defeated similar legislation last year, when they controlled the state Senate.

Democrats swept both legislative chambers and retained the governorship in November's elections.

Several law enforcement officials testified for the bill, named after Zackari Parrish, a 29-year old sheriff's deputy in Douglas County. The husband and father was shot and killed in a New Year's Eve 2017 shooting by a man who had exhibited increasingly erratic behavior.

Opponents say about half of the counties in the state have passed resolutions opposing the bill, symbolically declaring their counties “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”

Some of the mostly rural counties said they will back sheriffs who do not enforce the measure and will not spend any money to store confiscated guns.

State Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, has said sheriffs who don't want to enforce the measure should resign. Polis, however, said on March 26 that he believes sheriffs are committed to enforcing laws approved at the Capitol. Polis also said sheriffs have discretion to decide which issues to focus on.

It's the first major gun legislation to make its way through both Colorado legislative chambers since 2013, when lawmakers passed universal background checks and banned large-capacity ammunition magazines after 2012 mass shootings in an Aurora theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Voters subsequently recalled two Democratic lawmakers for supporting the measures. A third resigned rather than face a recall.

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