Colorado House passes red flag bill, clearing the way for Gov. Polis to sign it into law

The law would allow a judge to order guns taken away from a person exhibiting violent or dangerous behavior

Gov. Jared Polis announces a lawsuit against the federal Justice Department for withholding grant money bound for state police departments, March 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Gov. Jared Polis announces a lawsuit against the federal Justice Department for withholding grant money bound for state police departments, March 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign a bill allowing for the temporary removal of guns from people exhibiting violent or dangerous behavior after the House on Monday passed the legislation by a 38-25 vote.

The vote was passed mostly along party lines, with Democrat state Reps. Bri Buentello of Pueblo and Donald Valdez of La Jara splitting from their party to vote no on the bill. Two legislators, state Reps. Leslie Herod and Dave Williams, were listed as excused.

The bill allows for extreme risk protection orders, which can be obtained by family members or law enforcement who petition a judge to remove firearms from a person exhibiting violent or dangerous behavior. It has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in the current session, fueling speculation from Republicans in the minority that Democrats in control of both chambers were overreaching.

The bill passed the Senate last week by a slim one-vote margin after Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, sided with Republicans and cast his vote against the bill.

After the Senate passed the bill, it was sent back to House to consider the changes made by the upper chamber. The House’s final approval Monday means the bill will head to Polis’ desk.

Several counties in the state have declared themselves Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties, meaning they will support local sheriffs who decline to enforce the law. They include Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, who told CNN he’s willing to go to jail rather than enforce the law.

State Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, a Democrat, was one of the bill’s primary sponsors. Sullivan, whose son Alex died in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, said in a release from House Democrats on Monday that the House had “stood up and did the right thing.”

“One of the reasons I ran for office was so I could tell all of you about my son Alex, who lit up rooms and was beloved, and so I could tell all of you about other victims and families of gun violence,” Sullivan said in the release. “This bill will give law enforcement and families the tools that they need to stop tragedies from constantly happening and save lives.”

At least 14 other states have similar red flag bills, including California, Oregon and Washington, according to a release from House Democrats.

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