President Donald Trump on Monday signaled openness to a “red flag” law that would temporarily remove firearms from those deemed a risk to themselves or others, similar to a Colorado bill signed into law this year by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
“We must make sure that 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,” Trump said Monday in remarks from the White House regarding two deadly shootings this past weekend, in Ohio and Texas.
Seventeen states, including Colorado, had some form of a red flag law as of March, according to The Trace, a website that bills itself as an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit” news outlet.
Bills have been proposed in an additional four states, according to the outlet. Colorado’s law, signed into law by Polis on April 12, allows family members or law enforcement officers to seek a court order that would allow police to remove firearms from someone deemed a substantial risk to themselves or to others.
Such orders are also known as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) or gun violence restraining orders (GVROs).
The Colorado bill roiled the state Republican Party and likely contributed to the defeat of Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial, last year after he signed onto a similar bill.
As some Republicans retreated from him and another red-flag supporter, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Democrats were able to unseat Wist for gun-control advocate Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. Brauchler was defeated by Democrat Phil Weiser in the state attorney general’s race last November.
Brauchler prosecuted James Holmes, the shooter in the theater massacre. Wist said he was motivated to support the red-flag law after law enforcement officers were ambushed and one was killed in Highlands Ranch in his district in December 2017.
The bill that was killed by Republicans, who held the majority in the state Senate during the 2018 session, was named for the fallen Douglas County sheriff’s deputy: the Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act.
Democrats took the majority in the Senate last November.
Leaders in a handful of Colorado counties have declared themselves Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties that won’t enforce the law. Those counties so far include Weld, Elbert and Fremont.
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder has said his deputies will enforce court orders despite opposition, a break from many other counties considered conservative.
Sheriffs in Colorado have the autonomy to set local law enforcement priorities, and this applies to the state’s red flag law, Polis said this spring. Several days prior, Weiser had said that sheriffs should resign if they are unwilling to enforce the law.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday he has reached an agreement with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal to create a federal grant program to help states adopt “red flag” protection order laws, making it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The Associated Press and Colorado Politics staff contributed to this report.