A Colorado sheriff has drawn a line in the sand saying that if his state passes a new gun law, he’d rather go to jail than enforce it. The proposed law is HB19-1177, nicknamed the “red flag bill,” which will permit family members, roommates, or law enforcement officers to petition a judge to take away a person’s firearms should they be deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said, “It’s a matter of doing what’s right.” He added, “If you pass an unconstitutional law, our oaths as commissioners or myself as the sheriff — we’re going to follow our constitutional oath first. And we’ll do that balancing act on our own.”
Both houses in Colorado are controlled by Democrats with the bill passing the state Senate last Thursday with the House following suit on Monday.
Democratic Gov.Jared Polis, who many expect will sign the bill, fired back at the sheriff, saying: “The sheriff is also not a law-making position in our state, it is a law enforcement division. ”
When Polis was a member of Congress in 2018, he sponsored the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2018,” which stated, “It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.”
The summary of the red flag bill states:
“The petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.
The petitioner must submit an affidavit signed under oath and penalty of perjury that sets forth facts to support the issuance of a temporary ERPO and a reasonable basis for believing they exist.The court must hold a temporary ERPO hearing in person or by telephone on the day the petition is filed or on the court day immediately following the day the petition is filed.
“After issuance of a temporary ERPO, the court must schedule a second hearing no later than 14 days following the issuance to determine whether the issuance of a continuing ERPO is warranted.The court shall appoint counsel to represent the respondent at the hearing.
If a family or household member or a law enforcement officer establishes by clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm, the court may issue a continuing ERPO.
But according to CNN, “But more than half of Colorado’s 64 counties officially oppose the bill. Many have even declared themselves Second Amendment ‘sanctuary’ counties in protest.”
David Kopel, a constitutional law expert, says the idea behind the bill is sound but the way it is worded is problematic.
As an example, he cited the phrase “preponderance of the evidence,” which sounds far less stringent than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” He adds that a situation could arise where a person who intends to harm someone could first find a way to get his/her intended victim’s guns taken away.
Sheriff Reams said on Monday, “It’s unlike any other red flag bill that has been introduced anywhere in the United States. The issue is the person who is having their guns taken away isn’t aware of this hearing taking place. They find out about the hearing after the fact.”
He added that he was “not bluffing” when he said he would refuse to enforce the bill if it passes into law.
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