Like a lot of Coloradans, I was not born here. I moved from California to Colorado 20 years ago for a fresh start and to escape the increasingly oppressive laws and regulations.
Colorado represented the freedom of the Old West. It was a place where an individual could go, work hard and succeed without the heavy hand of government holding him down.
That Colorado dream is morphing into a nightmare for the liberties and freedoms that Coloradans once cherished. Lawmakers continue to pass laws that are eroding those freedoms and liberties that once made Colorado great. Most outrageous to me is the never-ending assault on gun rights.
The latest assault is a gun confiscation bill labeled as “Red Flag” or “ERPO” (Extreme Risk Protection Order) HB19-1177.
Red-flag laws are promoted under the guise that mentally ill or depressed persons should not be allowed to possess firearms. This is done by allowing almost anyone you have a relationship with to petition the court for an ERPO against you.
This can be done ex parte — that means the target of an ERPO doesn’t get the chance to defend themselves in court, the hearing can happen without them present.
If the court decides that you are a significant risk, which is a very low legal standard, they can issue a “Temporary ERPO” that can be served concurrently with a “No Knock” warrant.
The Temporary ERPO is extremely dangerous and will surely result in the deaths of innocent people. Think of the unintended consequences of a Temporary ERPO. An anonymous petitioner could make an uncorroborated and unsubstantiated claim against you simply because they felt threatened or because you are a legal gun owner. The court then issues a Temporary ERPO and a “No Knock” warrant.
This would allow law enforcement officers to barge into your home unannounced and search your property for firearms.
Imagine a scenario where you’re at home. Your family is sleeping. You are awakened by the sound of your front door crashing down. You grab your sidearm from the nightstand and come out of your bedroom to see several intruders invading your home.
You raise your firearm in self-defense; it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happens next.
The Temporary ERPO endangers the lives of innocent gun owners and families along with the officers serving these warrants.
Last month, a “No Knock” warrant was issued to the wrong home in Houston. Without a warning, officers stormed the home. The gun-owning residents thought it was a home invasion and fired at the intruders.
Four officers were shot and wounded while the homeowners lay dead. Another tragedy happened Nov. 5 in Ferndale, Md. An innocent gun owner was fatally shot by officers attempting to serve an ERPO.
Under Colorado’s proposed red-flag law incidents like these could become commonplace.
Innocent lives will be put in danger simply because someone felt threatened by you as a gun owner.
Nobody wants dangerous or mentally ill people to have access to firearms. This bill does nothing to address mental heath or protect our due process rights, the right to face our accuser in court and present evidence in our defense. Ex parte subverts due process in the name of fear. If the state can deny due process to legal gun owners, then what’s to stop them from denying any right to any group of people?
Lawmakers should be trying to solve the problem of mental health instead of violating U.S.Code 242 Title 18. Mental heath is an issue we need to deal with. Persons with mental health issues are prohibited from owning firearms. This law does nothing to address those issues. It subverts our civil rights and only serves to promote the police state.
I support the El Paso county commissioners and Sheriff Bill Elder declaring El Paso County a gun sanctuary.
Justin Green is owner and founder of SDS Guns.