Garfield County sheriff voices opposition to Red Flag gun bill | PostIndependent.com

Garfield County sheriff voices opposition to Red Flag gun bill

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario announced his opposition to the Red Flag Gun bill working its way through the Colorado Legislature, joining other counties in criticizing the bill for infringing on Second Amendment rights.

It’s unclear whether Vallario will join the sheriff’s offices of Weld, Moffat and other counties in declaring “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” and commit to not enforcing the law, if passed.

“Although I understand and support the intent of focusing on dangerous people with mental health issues and violent crime, this bill is not the answer and I oppose it,” Vallario said in a statement.

The bill, commonly known as the “Red Flag Bill,” creates “the ability for a family or household member or a law enforcement officer to petition the court for a temporary “extreme risk protection order.”

If law enforcement or a family member can prove “by a preponderance of the evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm,” that person must surrender all guns and concealed carry permits for at least 364 days.

“While the legal standard for a judge to issue the protection order is high, I believe these judicial decisions will be very subjective across the state given the particular judicial district where the hearing is held,” Vallario said in his statement.

Vallario criticized the bill’s lack of new funding for mental health services, which has been an issue in the Garfield County jail for those who act criminally due to mental disorders and then “become victims of the criminal justice system rather than the system helping them.”

He also sees a danger in criminalizing gun possession for violators of the protection orders: “…we have a bill that is attempting to prevent criminal behavior, but allows someone to be charged with a crime if they don’t comply with a civil order.”

The bill passed the state House on Monday. It is also known as the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act, in commemoration of the Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot Dec. 30, 2018, while trying to contact a suspect with a history of mental health problems.

tphippen@postindependent.com