Expansion of red flag laws

Legislators at the state capitol are making a push to expand Colorado's red flag laws.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:37 PM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DENVER, Colo. (KKCO) - Since 2019, Colorado implemented extreme risk protection orders to try to minimize gun related tragedies, be it self-inflicted or towards the general public.

An extreme risk protection order allows family, household members, and law enforcement officers to file a petition for a court to temporarily confiscate firearms.

Democratic State Representative Mike Weissman from Aurora is sponsoring this bill with Jennifer Bacon from Denver.

“It’s very important to note, filing a petition doesn’t mean that somebody surrenders their firearms, that’s just the start of the process, you go to court, you have to meet the requirements of the law, a judge has to agree that the standard has been met under the law, and then only that is an order issued,” said Representative Weissman.

Out of the 380 reported petitions since 2020, over 200 cases were found to be a threat to others based on online remarks.

120 were at risk of harming themselves.

While those laws were in place, five people were shot killed at Club Q in Colorado Springs and more injured. The shooter evaded red flag laws after threatening his mother in 2021.

Ten people died at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder under the same laws, something people are still questioning.

In an attempt stop mass shootings before they happen, more people are now allowed to file petitions.

“Educators, and mental health professionals and healthcare professionals and we’ve spoken in detail with all of those folks and all those professions,” says Weissman, “They’re going to be added to the list in the law of who is allowed to file a petition.”

The petitioner will present their evidence to a judge. Then, the judge will determine whether a person holds a threat to themselves or the public. If they are, firearms will be confiscated by law enforcement.

Lawmakers say it is not a punishment, rather a precaution. “This is not criminal. If an ERPO petition is granted, you haven’t committed a crime,” said Weissman.

According to the Associated Press, Colorado used red flag laws statistically at one of the lowest rates.

“We’re actually kind of in the bottom third of states in terms of frequency, you can look at Florida, which is politically kind of a purple state, they use ERPO 10 times more than we do.” Said Weissman.

Research says for every ten to twenty petitions filed, one suicide can be averted.

Follow this link to read the bill.