DENVER – Colorado’s controversial “red flag” gun bill, which would give law enforcement the right to seize firearms from gun owners who they believe pose a threat, passed the House on Monday against the objections of gun-rights activists. It now heads to the Senate.
House Bill 1177 has been supported by some Front Range sheriffs and was crafted by a lawmaker whose son died in a mass shooting. The bill would allow family or law enforcement to flag someone as a threat and seek a court order to have that person’s firearms seized. If approved, a hearing would determine whether to extend the weapons seizure for as many as 364 days.
The bill was approved on a vote of 38-25. Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, voted against it; Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, approved it.
On the Front Range, the bill has been supported by a coalition of Front Range sheriffs, district attorneys and communities affected by mass shootings. But residents and officials in rural and western Colorado have already vowed to fight back against the measure should it become law.
Last week, Montezuma County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to make the county a “gun sanctuary,” where HB 1177 would not be enforced. But it is doubtful the resolution would carry any legal authority or be enforced by Sheriff Steve Nowlin, who refused to sign the resolution. At least one other county, Fremont, has passed a sanctuary resolution.
Fourteen states have enacted so-called “red flag” bills, otherwise known as extreme risk protection orders. Colorado’s version empowers family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to place a temporary order on a person who is a threat to his/herself or others. If approved, the order would require that person to surrender all firearms for up to two weeks while the court conducts a hearing to assess grounds for a longer-term seizure.
The state would provide a gun owner with a lawyer for the hearing. The seizure can last for up to 364 days, but can be terminated at any time pending another hearing and petition from the gun owner.