WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Weld County on Wednesday became the third in Colorado to pass a resolution declaring to be a so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”
The Weld County Commission unanimously passed a resolution that will allow law enforcement officers not to comply with state gun laws that the commission and law enforcement deem “unconstitutional.”
Fremont and Custer counties have passed similar resolutions.
The move comes as the Colorado Legislature considers a so-called “red flag” bill that will allow family and household members or law enforcement to petition a judge to remove firearms from someone who is deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
“The issue isn’t an issue of safety as much as it is an issue of protecting the constitutional rights of citizens,” Commissioner Chair Barbara Kirkmeyer said in a statement.
Sheriff Steve Reams said the bill crosses too many constitutional lines and says the issue is mental health, not firearms.
“I have a duty for public safety but also have a duty to protect the Constitution,” Reams said.
The commissioners affirmed their “support for the Weld County Sheriff in the exercise of his sound discretion to not enforce against any citizen an unconstitutional firearms law,” according to the resolution.
The board “will not appropriate government funds for capital construction of building space and purchase of storage systems to store weapons seized pursuant to the authority and requirements set forth” if the “red flag” bill is passed.
“The principal of due process is at the very core of this issue,” Commissioner Sean Conway said. “What this bill does is create a system where a person must defend/prove their innocence against an action that hasn’t even been taken.”
Added Commissioner Steve Moreno: “This bill is nothing more than a feel-good measure that will not stop the actions it is aiming to prevent. There are other solutions that must be seriously considered when talking about mental health issues in this country. This bill is not it.”
Reams said the “red flag” bill would put deputies in greater danger.
“The way the bill is written is asking me or my agency to go out and affect one of these gun grabs, if you will, without any notification to person that we’re coming,” he said. “I think that puts my agency at undo risk.”
Not all Colorado sheriffs agree with Reams. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock has testified in favor of the “red flag” gun bill after one of his deputies, Zackari Parrish, was shot and killed by a man in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Mental Health Colorado said the bill is vital.
“Elected officials in Weld, Fremont, and Montezuma Counties have stated they will not implement a life-saving extreme risk protection order if House Bill 1177 passes,” Mental Health Colorado said in a statement.
“We are disheartened about the decision of these county commissioners. More than half of all suicides in Colorado involve a firearm. We believe everyone should have access to this life-saving protection order no matter where you live. Saving lives should not be a partisan issue.”
But Reams said if a judge grants an extreme risk protection order, his deputies would ignore it. Instead, each situation would be handled on a case-by-case basis.