The statute permits regulation enforcement officers or non-public residents to petition a county courtroom to confiscate firearms briefly from individuals who pose an imminent menace to themselves or others.
“All it’s is one particular person’s phrase towards one other,” stated Wilson, whose sparsely populated territory is in southwestern Colorado close to the Utah border.
Then, in August 2020, a Dove Creek man threatening to kill his neighbors and himself pointed a semiautomatic rifle at a deputy. Wilson petitioned for and was granted an excessive danger safety order to take away the person’s weapons, although the sheriff stated his distrust of the crimson flag regulation has not modified.
“If a gentleman pulls a rifle on my deputy after which comes and threatens to shoot up my courthouse and kill me, kill the judges, and kill the district lawyer,” Wilson stated, “I’ve received an issue with that particular person having a gun.”
Related opposition was seen in Colorado, the place Dolores County and not less than 36 different counties declared themselves “Second Modification sanctuaries” after the crimson flag regulation was launched.
However 2½ years later, these declarations seem to have had little impact on whether or not safety orders primarily based on the regulation are filed or enforced. Petitions for defense orders have been filed in 20 of the 37 sanctuary counties, usually by the very sheriffs who had beforehand denounced the regulation, based on a KHN evaluation of the petitions obtained by county-by-county public information requests.
Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have applied some type of crimson flag regulation whereas, based on the web site SanctuaryCounties.com, greater than 62% of U.S. counties are actually lined by both state or county Second Modification sanctuary resolutions.
Betz and her crew discovered the identical hurdle in Colorado. “I hope there can be some enchancment in consciousness and training, each for the general public and likewise for regulation enforcement,” she stated, “making it simpler for individuals to grasp how they work and if you may need to get one and the way you’d try this.”
“My stance continues to be the identical,” Reams stated. “Not at all am I going to take somebody’s weapons in violation of their constitutional rights.”
Reams describes the regulation as “shallow” and doing nothing to deal with the psychological points that may contribute to violence. “Our purpose is to deal with the particular person and check out to determine methods to get the particular person the assistance they want,” he stated.
The method for residents to file excessive danger safety order petitions may be difficult. Lots of these reviewed by KHN confirmed filers did not perceive the crimson flag regulation, together with one petition that was filed within the incorrect county.
Different petitions filed by residents have been clearly exterior the intent of the regulation.
However judges rejected all these petitions, bolstering supporters’ argument that protections towards misuse are constructed into the regulation.
“We documented the uncommon few instances of individuals misusing the regulation, however these petitions weren’t allowed,” stated Betz, the Colorado epidemiologist. “That exhibits that the system labored.”
In the course of the debate over the Colorado invoice, opponents argued that the regulation would enable vindictive individuals to take weapons away from others for no good motive.
“We’re simply actually not seeing that,” stated Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. “What we’re seeing is that regulation enforcement has a device to make use of in instances the place somebody is actually a danger to themselves or others and should not have a firearm.”
Since then, Alamosa County judges have granted two petitions beneath the regulation, one from the county sheriff’s workplace and one from the Alamosa Police Division.
Jackson stated his concern was over the flexibility of personal residents to file for defense orders. Regulation enforcement, he stated, recordsdata solely after wanting into the info.
“Judges typically aren’t actually good at investigating stuff,” he stated.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, probably the most outspoken proponents of the Colorado regulation, stated his workplace filed 4 protecting orders within the first yr of the regulation.
“More often than not when we have now individuals who have excessive psychological well being crises, sadly, there’s an final result of both suicide or murder,” he stated. “The 4 instances that we have achieved, all 4 of these people are alive in the present day and are productive members of our society and are working towards a more healthy life.”
Spurlock stated many sheriffs nonetheless refuse to utilize a regulation that is saved lives. He stated he has requested a few of them pointed questions on what it means to be a Second Modification sanctuary, akin to whether or not armed robbers and rapists are entitled to weapons.
“Then they get pissed at me,” Spurlock stated. “My variety of associates is dwindling.”
KHN reporter Jacob Owens contributed to this text
KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points. Along with Coverage Evaluation and Polling, KHN is likely one of the three main working packages at KFF (Kaiser Household Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit group offering info on well being points to the nation.