Some Colorado sheriffs are strictly opposed to a proposed gun control measure that would allow family members, roommates or law enforcement to ask a court to confiscate guns from someone deemed a possible danger to themselves or others.
But the official who’s most vehemently opposed to this may be Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, The Hill reports.
In an interview with CNN, Reams said he’d rather go to jail than enforce the “red flag bill” that’s wending its way through the state legislature.
“It’s a matter of doing what’s right,” he said.
The State Senate passed the bill last week and now it’s on its way to the House, where a different version of the bill had passed earlier. The House will decide on amendments made by the Senate, Colorado radio station KUNC reports.
Known as the “extreme risk protection order” the measure allows family members, roommates, and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily confiscate someone’s firearms if they are considered dangerous to themselves or others.
The legislative steps taken are a response to the death of Zack Parrish, a 29-year-old deputy who was killed in 2017 by a man with a stockpile of weapons. Authorities say the man had a history of bizarre behavior that included threatening police.
But Reams says taking guns away from a dangerous person could spur them to violence.
“Going in and taking their guns and leaving the scene, I can’t see how that makes them less of a risk,” he said. “It just takes one tool away.”
But Reams seems to ignore the fact that this is one less “tool” that can be used to kill someone.
Reams’ opposition to the bill doesn’t bother Colorado House Majority Leader Alec Garnett (D), who is one of the measure’s co-sponsors. He noted he’s not going to “lose sleep” over the sheriff’s objections.
“What I’m going to lose sleep over is, if that’s the choice that they make and someone loses their life, someone in crisis goes on a shooting spree, (or) someone commits suicide,” because a firearm wasn’t confiscated from someone, he said.
The other House sponsor of the bill is fellow Democrat Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex lost his life in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting in 2012.
And the bill has the support of Parrish’s former boss, Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who says he believes it could have prevented his deputy’s death.
Some law enforcement officials and gun rights advocates say the measure is too strict.
Constitutional law expert David Kopel, who writes about gun policy in the U.S. says the bill is a good idea but also says he has some reservations about how the measure is written — due, in part, to outside influence.
“The gun ban lobbies are getting more extreme and aggressive,” he said.
The bill allows a judge to order the seizure of a person’s guns before the person appears in court. It also requires the person to undergo a second hearing within 14 days, and the firearms owner can make a case to keep their weapons. But if the person is unsuccessful, the judge could order the seizure of the weapons for up to a year.
Garnett says he has few worries about the bill and noted there will always be detractors.
“The opposition is always there,” he said. “It will always be there and there’s nothing, there’s no amendments or any changes that could be made to bring the sheriff onboard.”
And Reams agreed and added that he will never support the bill, with or without amendments.
Some 32 counties within Colorado are fighting the measure, passing resolutions to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. Many vow support for their sheriffs and say no funds or resources will be used to enforce laws they consider unconstitutional.
But here’s the good news: Colorado’s Senate passed the bill — by only one vote — without the support of Republicans, but the House is expected to pass the bill, possibly by the end of the week. And with a Democratic majority in both chambers, Republicans won’t be able to vote it down.
In this video from last April, Spurlock and others discuss their support for gun control.
Featured image by Denver7 – The Denver Channel via YouTube video