A series of recent fatal shootings in Colorado and nationwide is leading Gov. John Hickenlooper and state Democratic lawmakers to push for a “red flag law” that would allow judges to temporarily seize guns from people they consider to be a threat.
The late effort is part of a nationwide discussion about the intersection of mental health and the Second Amendment after the February massacre at a South Florida high school and the fatal shooting of a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy almost two months earlier — sparking what could be one of the largest policy pushes this year at the state Capitol.
Major firearm legislation has not been passed in Colorado since 2013, when two Democrats were recalled over their support for measures expanding background check requirements and outlawing high-capacity magazines.
“This is an appropriate step for states to take,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat who is among those leading the legislative effort. “I’m trying hard to create a Colorado solution that can be signed by the governor.”
Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat, supports a “red flag” law, but he is deferring to the General Assembly to draft a bill. Though if no action is taken, the governor acknowledged Thursday, he would consider executive action on the issue.
“We’ve always said that we want to make sure people’s civil rights are completely protected,” he said. “The goal is to get some sort of a collaborative compromise so that all parties feel that those civil rights are protected, and at the same time, we are doing a better job of making sure there is less risk to the community.”
The discussions at the Colorado Capitol are taking place behind the scenes, as lawmakers attempt to develop a proposal that can win bipartisan support in the split chambers. The prospect of such a bill has been circulating in the Capitol for weeks, mainly since the deadly February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
It’s unclear how the effort will be met by Republican lawmakers, who control the state Senate, despite support from some of the party’s candidates for governor and other GOP leaders across the nation. It also remains to be seen if there is enough time left in the legislative session that ends May 9 to debate and pass what could become a contentious bill, especially since specific policy points have not been seen by lawmakers.
“I would have to see language before I make any kind of commitment whatsoever,” said Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. “I struggle with giving judges that type of authority.”
The legislation is expected to align with red flag laws in a handful of other states that allow family members and law enforcement officers to petition a judge to issue a protective order for the removal of firearms from people they consider a potential threat to themselves or others. More than 20 states are considering similar legislation, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Politics