Colorado's Red Flag Law Could Become National Model After Trump Calls For Similar Action
DENVER (CBS4)- Pres. Donald Trump called for a national Red Flag law on Monday morning after two weekend mass shootings. A similar law, or Extreme Risk Protective Order, was signed into law by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis earlier this year.
The law would take guns away from someone who is a threat to themselves or others. It is set to go into effect in Colorado next year.
Trump talked about the mass shootings, avoiding blaming guns and instead saying, "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."
"We must make sure those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process. That's is why I have called for Red Flag laws, also know as Extreme Risk Protection Orders," said Trump.
The Ohio shooter killed his sister and eight other people before he was shot and killed by police. Authorities say the El Paso shooter posted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto before killing 21 people and being taken into custody.
The President also called for the Department of Justice to propose that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders to face the death penalty and that penalty should come quickly without delay.
In Colorado, several gun advocates groups have threatened to bring a lawsuit regarding the Red Flag gun control law, which allows authorities to take guns from people determined to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Relatives or officers would have to petition a court to have the guns removed, which could be extended for up to 364 days.
The gun owner would then have to prove he or she no longer poses a risk in order to get the firearms back.
The bill was introduced after Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Zack Parrish was killed on New Year's Eve in 2018. He was trying to take a man into custody for a mental health hold.
"(His death) could have been averted if we had the ability that this law gives law enforcement to intervene in those extreme cases," said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
Colorado is the 15th state to pass a Red Flag Law. Colorado's bill, which will be enforced starting Jan. 1, 2020, is opposed by more than half of the sheriffs in Colorado.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams made national headlines after saying he would rather be thrown in jail for not enforcing Colorado's laws, than enforce something he believed was unconstitutional. Following President Trump's vocal support of a national "red flag bill," Reams said he believed the president was thinking of a bill that wouldn't infringe on gun owner rights, as he believes the Colorado law does.
"I don't think Colorado's version of a red flag bill is even what our president would be looking at," Reams told CBS4's Dillon Thomas.
Reams said, like the president and many others, he agrees those with troubling mental illnesses should not be able to possess a firearm. However, he said he was concerned some laws, like Colorado's, took away the right to due process.
"I think we can all universally agree that somebody who is mentally deficient shouldn't have access to firearms," Reams said.
Reams, who said he voted for Trump, hoped a national red flag law would start with a civil bipartisan discussion involving police, firefighter, medical professionals and more.
"Where all of those people are at the same table trying to find a real solution. Then, these (victims of mass shootings) wouldn't have died in vain," Reams said.
Outspoken gun rights organization "Rocky Mountain Gun Owners" of Loveland said they believed Pres. Obama was more protective of gun rights than Pres. Trump.
"Unfortunately this isn't the first time we have been worried about President Trump on guns," said Dudley Brown, spokesperson for the organization. "He's been the worst Republican we've had in the White House on guns."
RMGO filed a lawsuit against state lawmakers for the way they allegedly pushed Colorado's red flag bill through the process. Brown said RMGO, and other gun rights organizations, would file suit against the federal government if a national bill was created as well.
"We are going to work very hard against the president," Brown said. "None of these gun controls make anyone safer."
Polis, who supported and signed the bill, was not made available for comment on Pres. Trump's red flag endorsement. The governor's office sent the following statement to CBS4:
"Red flag legislation is a common sense way to prevent those experiencing a mental health crisis from harming others or themselves. In passing this legislation here in Colorado, our goal has been to protect the safety of the public and law enforcement."
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