We’re just about a month away from Colorado’s “red flag” firearms seizure law from taking effect, which will allow a judge to order the surrender of firearms to law enforcement if they feel like an individual is a danger to themselves or others. The Denver Post is reporting that with just weeks to go before the first petition to seize someone’s firearms is likely going to be filed, officials still aren’t sure how the law is going to be enforced, especially in counties where sheriffs say they’ll go to jail themselves instead of complying with a court order to seize someone’s guns.
Law enforcement also isn’t sure how the system will work if some agencies refuse to implement the law, as some sheriffs have threatened. For example, what happens if Denver police contact a suicidal person who they believe should be the subject of an order but that person — and that person’s guns — are in Weld County, where the sheriff has said he will not enforce the law?
“A lot of it we’re just going to be feeling our way through,” Montoya said.
The law has earned the scorn of a number of Colorado county sheriffs who said it violates residents’ constitutional right to bear arms and cited fears about false reports leading to gun confiscation. If the sheriffs follow through with their threats to defy the law and judges’ orders, each judge will have to decide how to proceed.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams is one of those sheriffs who objects to the red flag law. In fact, he’s stated that he will not enforce any “red flag” petition in his county, even if that means he ends up behind bars.
For Reams, it’s about more than the Second Amendment. He sees potential violations of the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments as well.
Reams has gotten a lot of publicity for his stance, and that has escalated recently after his comments about being willing to be locked up in his own jail.
But there’s nuance to Reams’ stand, starting with the fact that he really doesn’t want to go to jail — at least not outside of his capacity as sheriff.
What Reams is really seeking is a constitutional challenge, and he says he’d rather be harmed and sue than harm a citizen and have them sue.
“The worst way to bring attention to it is for me to be put in that position, but I’ll do that before I’ll violate somebody’s constitutional rights,” Reams said.
I would expect a court challenge to the state’s “red flag” law almost as soon as it takes effect on January 1st, but there’s no guarantee of a legal victory, or even a temporary hold on the law’s enforcement while the case makes its way through the court system.
It’s also worth noting that while Sheriff Reams has plenty of company among his fellow sheriffs, according to the Denver Post, most of the law enforcement agencies around Denver say they will be enforcing the law when it takes effect, though Jefferson County Sheriff has placed some restrictions on when deputies will seek search warrants to confiscate firearms from those subject to a red flag order.
Jefferson County deputies will only take someone’s firearms if there is an arrest warrant for that person or if deputies themselves have a reason to believe that a person is an immediate danger, in which case they will take the person into custody for a 72-hour mental health hold. The sheriff’s office will not confiscate guns for other law enforcement agencies unless those two criteria are met.
“Through the application of our mission to serve, protect and enforce, we will carefully evaluate and weigh the rights of people to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, with the rights of people to be free from acts or threatened acts of violence, and respond in a reasonable and lawful manner,” the policy states.
With lawmakers in Colorado looking to add even more gun control legislation to the statute books when the session kicks off in early January as well, Second Amendment supporters in Colorado need to get ready for another big fight over the right to keep and bear arms. While the state’s red flag law will almost certainly receive a court challenge, the primary goal of gun owners in the state needs to be ensuring that no new gun control bills make it to the governor’s desk. With an anti-gun legislative majority that will be a tough fight, but as we’ve seen, gun owners in the state aren’t interested in surrendering their guns or their rights to anti-gun politicians.