In response to President Trump’s call for red flag laws in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the sponsors of Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law, Majority Leader Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Representative Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), issued the following statement:
“Colorado is grieving with El Paso and Dayton after the tragedies this weekend. Colorado knows far too well the pain of mass shootings and the trauma that they inflict on victims and communities. It is time to take action to stop these senseless, deadly attacks.
“We are glad to hear that there is increasing bipartisan support at the federal level for red flag laws. Here in Colorado we passed an Extreme Risk Protection Order law, a commonsense approach that is shown to save lives and prevent tragedies. We encourage other states to look to Colorado’s legislation as a model that increases public safety while protecting due process rights. The federal proposal is a good step but there is much more they must do to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence.”
Rep. Sullivan’s son Alex was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting on his twenty-seventh birthday. Rep. Sullivan wears Alex’s jacket every day and wore it during the course of the debate in the House.
The state’s Extreme Risk Protection law, also known as the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act, was signed by Gov. Polis on April 12 of this year and will provide a critical tool to help prevent gun violence and suicide and protect families and first responders. The legislation has been in the works for over a year and includes input from law enforcement, the mental health community, advocates for gun violence prevention and elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
Through HB19-1177, family members or law enforcement can petition a judge for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) for someone who is a significant risk to themselves or others. If approved, a temporary order would be placed for up to two weeks and the court would hold a hearing to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for an ERPO. During this hearing, respondents will be provided with legal counsel at no cost to ensure due process rights are protected. If the judge determines, by a clear and convincing evidence standard, that the respondent poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to themselves or others, the protection order may be approved for 364 days. The respondent can also request to have the order terminated at any point during that time period.
Attorney General Phil Weiser submitted a letter and testified in support of the legislation. Members of law enforcement, gun owners, and survivors of gun violence testified for hours during House and Senate committee hearings in support of the bill. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted ERPO laws.
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