DENVER — Gun violence involving those with mental health issues sits at the center of the debate over what can be done to keep it from happening.
Former lawmaker Andrew Romanoff, now CEO of Mental Health Colorado is fighting to keep guns out of the hands of those struggling with mental health issues and to make sure they receive the treatment they need.
Romanoff said a red flag bill, named in honor of fallen Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish, had the potential to save lives by allowing the courts to temporarily remove guns from those deemed to be a danger to others or themselves.
Despite bipartisan sponsorship in the state House, the bill was killed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Romanoff points out that similar laws in other states have been successful.
“Connecticut found that for every 10 weapons removed from a home one suicide was averted, that ought to be reason enough for Colorado to pass something like this,” Romanoff said.
One concern is that such a measure would threaten the Constitutional rights of gun owners, but supporters say law-abiding gun owners would have nothing to fear.
“The judge can issue an order that allows an officer to remove weapons from that person’s home for seven days, when those seven days are up the weapons are returned unless the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the danger persists,” Romanoff said.
“That’s the highest standard in civil law so I challenge the opponents if that standard is not sufficient then tell us what might be?”
Candidates in the governor’s race were asked about the issue.
“Well-crafted red flag laws are a thoughtful and effective way to protect our families from gun violence while fully respecting due process and our Second Amendment rights,” Democrat Jared Polis said.
“These laws have been proven to work in other states, and I hope we can work together here in Colorado to pass a bipartisan red flag law that will save lives, including the lives of brave men and women in law enforcement.”
Said Republican Walker Stapleton: “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and will protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. I support the concept of a red flag bill because we need to address mental health and keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and a danger to society, but I will not support any bill that does not have strong due process procedures to protect Coloradans’ Constitutional rights.”
Romanoff said a bipartisan group of lawmakers will make another effort to pass a red flag law in January.
State Rep. Alec Garnett said other states with these types of laws show no evidence of any abuse of gun rights.
A spokesman for State Senate Republicans says they will not budge on the issue of due process and gun rights.