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Polis signs “Red Flag” gun control bill

Many Colorado sheriffs have denounced the new law

“Red Flag” laws have already been enacted in 17 other states.
Photo Illustration: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

Gov. Polis signed the HB19-1177 bill into law on April 12, which puts in place extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws to minimize gun violence. This bill allows for family members or law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from an individual who has been proven by a preponderance of evidence to be a risk to themselves or others, giving the bill the nickname of “red flag” gun laws. 

To those in favor of increased gun control measures, the passing of this bill is a step toward lowering America’s rates of gun violence.

The organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has been encouraging “common sense” gun laws to be enacted throughout the country since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.

“It’s been a long fight,” Helen Kamin, a regional lead for Moms Demand Action, said. “But 14 states, and now Colorado, have enacted this law.”

In states that have put ERPO laws into place, rates of gun violence have declined.

The purpose of the “red flag” bill is not to just reduce the likelihood of a public mass shooting but also to lower rates of suicide. In the 10 years after Indiana’s enactment of ERPO laws, the state saw a 7.5 percent decrease in suicide by firearm with no noticeable increase in non-firearm suicides.

While the goal of the bill is to address red flags, it has been raising concerns of its own. Out of the 64 counties in Colorado, Kamin says that sheriffs of 37 counties have denounced the bill, expressing their refusal to enforce this new law.

“I think it’s misguided,” Kamin said. “They are worried about their Second Amendment rights, which apparently are more important than community safety.”

Facing criticisms for refusing to enforce the law to the full extent, sheriffs who refuse to enact the ERPO laws also run the risk of being held in contempt of court if an individual commits an act of gun violence after a family member or law enforcement officer has raised the “red flag” to the sheriff.

Some individuals feel that instead of lowering rates of gun violence, individuals who pose risks to themselves or others will release their aggression in other manners.

“I don’t see them being able to go into a school and shoot it up if they don’t have their weapon,” Kamin said about this piece of criticism.

The Sentry has reached out to the NRA regarding the red flag laws but has not received an official comment. Before the Parkland High School shooting, the NRA had fought ERPO laws in 17 states. Since then, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox expressed the NRA’s new support of red flag laws.

“This can help prevent violent behavior before it turns into a tragedy,” Cox said in an NRATV video.

Colorado’s enactment of ERPO laws may be seen as controversial to some, but many like Kamin view it as a smart step forward for the state, possibly encouraging ERPO laws to be passed at the federal level.

“You can only stand in front of a TV so many times watching tragedy unfold and not do something,” Kamin said. “You can’t just sit there and cry. You need to do something.”

 

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