UPDATE (1:41 p.m.): Gov. Polis has signed the measure. We have a new story w ith details from the bill signing.
DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign the “red flag” extreme risk protection order bill Friday in a noon ceremony at the state Capitol.
House Bill 1177 has become one of the most controversial measures of this year’s legislative session. The measure is called the “Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act” and is named after the Douglas County sheriff’s deputy who was killed on New Year’s Eve 2017 by a man who the department knew had a history of mental health issues and several weapons.
The House voted 43-20 earlier this month to concur with amendments made to the measure in the Senate last week and voted 38-25 to pass the bill to Polis’ desk.
The measure would allow a judge to order that a person’s firearms be confiscated if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others. The request for a protection order would come from law enforcement or family members. A judge could place a temporary order for up to two weeks on the person until it is decided at a hearing whether a full protection order is necessary. A full protection order could be approved for up to 364 days.
Colorado will become at least the 15th state with an extreme risk protection order law on the books, though not all other states allow both family members and law enforcement to petition for the protection orders.
The bill’s sponsors – House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver; Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial; Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver; and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood – are expected to join Polis for the bill’s signing.
“One of the reasons I ran for office was so I could tell all of you about my son Alex who lit up rooms and was beloved, and so I could tell all of you about other victims and families of gun violence,” Sullivan said after the bill passed the house. His son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. “This bill will give law enforcement and families the tools that they need to stop tragedies from constantly happening and save lives.”
This year’s red flag bill has again divided lawmakers and Coloradans, as a similar measure did last year. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock is one of few law enforcement officers vocally backing this year’s measure.
More than 36 counties and towns or cities have passed resolutions as of Friday in opposition to the red flag measure or declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” in an effort to stave off the possible law. Most of the sheriffs or county commissions have passed such declarations or resolutions in protest, saying the measure is unconstitutional. Denver and Aurora’s police unions have also said they oppose the measure.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams has said he will go to jail before he enforces the measure, should it become law.
Some opposed to the bill have even discussed recall petitions against Polis and some of the lawmakers who have supported the measure.
But Attorney General Phil Weiser has said that those declarations and resolution “cannot and do not override a valid judicial order implementing state law.”
Polis has said that sheriffs have the ability to prioritize resources but noted that they are not lawmakers, but rather enforcers of the law.
“I know all sheriffs in Colorado are deeply committed to following the law without prejudice, and I’m confident our sheriffs will live up to the challenge of following the law,” he said last week.
A poll released in February by Magellan Strategies of 622 Republican primary and general election voters from Colorado showed 60% of respondents said they would support a “red flag” measure similar to last year’s red flag bill.
Sixty percent of respondents said they would support the measure; 33% said they opposed it; and 7% said they were unsure. Among self-identified “traditional Republicans,” the measure had 63% support, and among self-described “Trump Republicans,” the measure had 57% support.
Denver7 will be at the bill signing ceremony and will have an updated story Friday afternoon.