New gun control legislation in Colorado could lead to gun seizure
A Colorado bill would allow the seizure of firearms from “high risk” individuals.
A Colorado bill that would allow the seizure of firearms from “high risk” individuals was heard Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee, after being reintroduced in the statehouse last week.
The bill, co-sponsored by House majority leader Alec Garnett, describes an extreme risk protection order which allows family, household member, or an officer to petition a judge to lawfully take away the weapons in possession by any arms-bearing individual. Supporters, including several gun control groups, say it will help remove the threat of gun violence from people experiencing a mental health crisis.
This bill has undergone edits since its first proposal in 2018, when it was shut down in a Republican-majority Senate. Now, Garnett and co-sponsors Rep. Tom Sullivan, Sen. Lois Court and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, are trying again, and have extended the period of seizure to an entire year.
Garnett sponsored this “red flag” firearms bill in memory of Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish, who was fatally shot as he tried to negotiate with a man in the midst of a mental health crisis. According to these lawmakers, the support of the police force is with this bill.
“What we are doing with this bill is giving law enforcement a tool that they need to save lives,” Sullivan said. “It gets the people who are having these difficult times the help that they need and protects their families and the community from them having a problem.”
Extreme risk protection order.
With an extreme risk protection order, a judge will hold a hearing with the individual petitioning for intervention, excluding the person of concern. A temporary seizure order lasts 14 days, during which the gun owner and family member or roommate will make their individual cases to the judge. The bill demands that a lawyer will be provided to the gun owner free of charge and the judge can request drug and alcohol as well as mental health evaluations.
If they decide to proceed with the order, the judge then determines a period of arms seizure that can be as long as 364 days. Throughout this period, the individual may appeal without restriction for the return of their arms.
POWERFUL VIDEO: I asked Rep Tom Sullivan, who lost a son in the Aurora Theatre Shooting, if he was upset there were no Republicans at his Extreme Risk Protection Order Press Conference. His response eye opening #coleg #copolitics pic.twitter.com/J3Lpf4Rmel
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) February 14, 2019
A similar extreme risk protection bill was passed in Florida after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
The last gun legislation to pass in Colorado was in 2013, when Democrats enforced universal background checks and outlawed high-capacity magazines. For six years, no changes have been made.
Colorado Republican voters were polled in the first days of February, Magellan Strategies found that 60 percent support this law, while 33 percent oppose it.
This bill does not currently have any Republican sponsors, although two GOP representatives voted in favor of the earlier version presented last year.
Colorado House Minority leader Patrick Neville was not among them.
“This is an even more draconian versatile of legislation than what we saw last year,” Neville said in a statement, according to the Denver Post. “In this version of the bill, innocent until proven guilty no longer exists.”