Weld County votes to become Second Amendment Sanctuary County
The Board of Weld County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday to become a so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary County, joining a group of conservative counties that have taken to policy to oppose a bill that would require residents to turn over their firearms in certain cases.
Through the resolution, the commissioners said they would not put money toward building a storage facility for weapons seized by law enforcement. Additionally, the commissioners said they will support Sheriff Steve Reams if he decides not to enforce the bill if it becomes a law.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, which passed through the Colorado House on Monday, has been met with opposition in several Colorado counties. Fremont County in southern Colorado became in the first to approve the sanctuary resolution and was followed by others.
In a news release early this week, Colorado Democrats described the bill as a way to prevent gun violence and suicide, as well as protect first responders.
Under the bill, a judge could require a person to go without firearms for 364 days or longer, depending on whether the petitioner can present a convincing case that the person is a danger to themselves or others.
The bill is sponsored, in part, by Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting.
“One of the reasons I ran for office was so I could tell all of you about Alex and about other victims and families of gun violence,” Sullivan said in the news release. “This bill will give law enforcement and families the tools that they need to stop tragedies from constantly happening and save lives.”
Weld County leaders said the bill has further-reaching implications for gun-owners and law enforcement.
Among the top concerns from the county is the bill’s storage requirement. Recipients of extreme risk protection orders would be required to surrender their firearms to law enforcement or a federally licensed firearms dealer.
During a work session before the meeting, Reams called the storage requirement an unfunded mandate from the state. He said he doesn’t know how the county would be impacted because it’s unclear how many guns people own.
Weld County Attorney Bruce Barker said the county’s resolution does two things: declares that the county won’t allocate money for a firearm storage facility and shows the county’s support for Reams, should he choose not to enforce the bill if it becomes law.
“It talks about how Sheriff Reams has the ability to determine those laws, which he believe, if he enforces those, is an unconstitutional act,” he said. “In reviewing House Bill 1177, I agree with Sheriff Reams that there are some provisions there that could be deemed unconstitutional.”
The bill hit home with several Weld County residents who spoke during a public comment portion of the meeting — from college student Haley Marcantonio, who said she’s concerned about what the bill could mean during custody battles to Weld County pastor Steven Grant, who said he’d rather “stand facing a madman with a firearm than I would allowing the tyrannical left to define who a madman is.”
The board also heard from Weld County resident Aubrey Raney-Avers, who said she thinks the title of the resolution is misleading.
“Weld County is not in need of being a Second Amendment sanctuary county because this freedom is not at risk right now,” she said. “The extreme risk protection order would come into effect only when a court is petitioned and someone is a significant risk to themselves or others and they possess or could possess a firearm.”
Each of the commissioners said they felt they were following their oaths of office they took to defend the Constitution.
Commissioner Scott James said he thinks the bill isn’t about mental health, but “simply about confiscating guns.”
“Weapons, firearms, guns are not dangerous. People, regrettably, can be,” he said. “What are we going to do about having a conversation about addressing the people that become dangerous and when can we separate that from the conversation about firearms?”
Board Chairwoman Barbara Kirkmeyer encouraged people to tell their cities to adopt similar resolutions.
“The name of this bill is the ‘Extreme Risk Protection Order,” she said. “I think that’s a façade, and I think it’s fraudulent. I think this bill should have been titled, ‘The extreme order to confiscate firearms, eliminate due process and violate your constitutional rights bill.’”
She was met with applause from the audience.
— Sara Knuth covers government for The Tribune. You can reach her at (970) 392-4412, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraKnuth.
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