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Colorado Sheriff: I'll Go To Jail Before I Enforce Gun-Control 'Red Flag Law'

Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
 

One Colorado sheriff has defiantly stated that if his state passes a new gun law permitting family members, roommates, or law enforcement to petition a judge to remove a person’s firearms if they’re considered dangerous to themselves or others, he’ll go to jail rather than enforce it.

 

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said simply, "It's a matter of doing what's right." He has also said, “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.”

With both houses in Colorado controlled by Democrats, HB19- 1177, nicknamed the “red flag bill,” passed the state Senate last Thursday and was passed by the House on Monday. Last week Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to sign the bill, threatened, "The sheriff is also not a law-making position in our state, it is a law enforcement division." In 2018, when he was a Democratic member of Congress, Polis was a sponsor of 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 state’s summary of the 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.

CNN reports, “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, favors the idea of the bill but added that its verbiage is a problem; he stated that the phrase "preponderance of the evidence," which proposes a far less stringent standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is problematic. He added that he could envision a situation where a person desirous of harming someone would find a way to get their guns taken away.

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.”

 

Of his warning that he would refuse to enforce the bill, Reams has said, “I'm not bluffing."

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