Colorado governor signs 'red flag' gun bill

Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisProtesters at Colorado State Capitol call for Columbus Day to be abolished Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado Democrats grill BLM chief over plans to move officials out of DC MORE (D) signed the state's “red flag” gun bill into law on Friday, giving judges starting in January the power to temporarily take away guns from people thought to be at high risk of harming themselves or others.

Polis was long expected to sign the bill creating a process by which a family or household member, or a law enforcement officer, can petition the court for a temporary extreme-risk protection order.

“This law will not prevent every shooting, but it can be used in a targeted way to make sure that those who are suffering from a mental health crisis are able to temporarily have a court order in place that helps make sure they don’t harm themselves or others,” Polis said Friday. “Today we may be saving the life of your nephew, your niece, your grandchild.” 

The Extreme Risk Protection Order bill came to Polis’s desk after two months of debate.

While the legislation’s proponents claim the law has the potential to prevent mass shootings and reduce the number of gun-related suicides, Republican opponents say the law could infringe on Coloradans’ Second Amendment rights.

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About half the counties in the Centennial State have passed resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary counties,” according to The Denver Post, in which judges and sheriffs are discouraged from issuing or carrying out orders to remove weapons from people’s homes. 

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams previously told CNN that he'd rather go to jail than enforce the extreme protection orders.

Under the legislation, petitioners must “establish by a preponderance of the evidence” that a person poses a threat by possessing or purchasing a gun and submit an affidavit signed under oath and penalty of perjury. A judge would then hold a hearing to decide if they should grant the order for up to two weeks. During that span, all involved parties would appear before the court, at which time the judge would decide whether to remove the guns for up to 364 days.

The burden of proof is placed on the gun owner to prove they are not at risk for harming themselves or others. 

Democrats had made the legislation a priority last year after they took control of the state Senate. The bill’s signing makes Colorado the 15th state to have a red flag law on the books. The District of Columbia also has a similar law.