DENVER — Colorado lawmakers are debating behind the scenes whether to introduce and pass into law a “Red Flag” gun warning bill just days before the session wraps up.
The proposal, similar to what other states have passed, would allow law enforcement and family members the option of going before a judge to temporarily remove guns from individuals who pose threats.
“People who are in the midst of a psychotic episode, it’s a bad combination to have guns available,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said.
McCann, along with other prosecutors and law enforcement officials, are working on getting enough lawmakers on board to pass the measure.
McCann said recent shootings — including the killing of Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish — has sparked a conversation about gun rights for risky individuals.
“I think of that case with the deputy sheriff in Douglas County, that man [who killed Zackari Parrish] had mental health issues, his family knew it, others knew it, they didn’t have a mechanism to make sure he didn’t have access to weapons,” McCann said.
Mental Health Colorado, a leading sponsor of the legislation, said the bill would not only reduce murders, it would reduce suicides.
“We should have made this a law by now,” said Andrew Romanoff, president of Mental Health Colorado. “More than 1,000 Coloradans die from suicide each year — half of them by guns.”
Any discussion of gun rights must include the thinking of the National Rifle Association. The NRA has endorsed the measure in a YouTube video posted recently.
The NRA’s chief political strategist Chris Cox said in the video, “We need to stop dangerous people before they act.”
Cox goes on to say, however, that “due process” is needed — which has been a concern for some gun groups.
For instance, is the gun owner allowed to be at the hearing before a judge decides to take away their guns?
As members of the General Assembly debate possible outcomes, Gov. John Hickenlooper, who supports the measure, has also not ruled out possible executive action.
“We’ve looked at that and have looked at it in the past but right now the General Assembly is working on it,” Hickenlooper said.