Colorado’s Democratic-controlled House on Monday approved a controversial “red flag” gun control bill that would allow courts to order the temporary seizure of firearms from individuals deemed to be a risk.
The bill passed in a 38 to 25 vote, and will now head to the Senate for debate. It’s expected to pass and be signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
HB 19-1177 would allow judges to issue temporary extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), leading to a search warrant and temporary seizure of firearms if a person is thought to be a threat. Family members or law enforcement would first have to petition the court for an ERPO.
The bill would require a court-appointed lawyer for the respondent and hold a hearing in the first two weeks of the temporary ERPO. The court would be able to issue a continuing ERPO that lasts up to 364 days under the bill if family members or law enforcement can demonstrate clear and convincing evidence of risk.
A similar bill was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate last year, despite bipartisan support. Democrats now have a majority in the Senate.
Earlier this month, the House debated the bill for 10 hours, eventually passing it on first reading.
Law enforcement officials are split on the bill, and some counties have passed “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” resolutions, citing due process concerns.
Custer and Fremont counties have both passed resolutions which would mean sheriffs in those counties wouldn’t have to enforce ERPOs if the bill becomes a law.
Democratic House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, mocked the counties in a floor speech before the bill’s passage Monday.
“Now we have sanctuary counties,” he said. “I mean, do we have to talk about the ridiculousness of sanctuary counties? You’re not going to enforce a judicial order?”
The counties of Weld and Montezuma have also considered passing sanctuary county measures. Sheriffs in El Paso and Teller Counties have also said they won’t back the bill.
Dave Kopel, research director for the Independence Institute and head of its Second Amendment Project, said the resolutions "don’t formally negate state laws."
"If a county sheriff won’t enforce a particular law, then the only available enforcers are municipal police plus state police," he said.
The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, lost his son in the Aurora shooting. Sullivan and Garnett announced the bill at a press conference last month on the one-year anniversary of the shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.