WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado’s controversial “red flag” bill is now steps is away from becoming law.
If it does, some sheriffs say they will not forcibly take guns away from people who courts have ruled a danger to themselves or others.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said he will fight the bill, which he believes infringes on his constituents’ constitutional rights.
However, in a committee hearing earlier this month, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that he believes a sheriff not enforcing the law would be “unusual,” but if that’s the case, the sheriff should resign.
But Sheriff Reams says he’s not quitting.
“The attorney general is entitled to his own opinion. He’s an independently elected official just like I am. His interpretation of the “red flag” bill is his interpretation and I have my own interpretation of it,” Reams said.
In a statement, Attorney General Weiser said:
“If any individual wishes to oppose the enactment of a law, then the right forum is the legislature… If anyone wants to challenge a law as unconstitutional, that is their right, and the proper venue for such a challenge is our courts.”
Other sheriffs in the state have advocated for the law, saying it would help save the lives of people and officers by removing guns from the hands of people who should not have them.
Still, Sheriff Reams is not budging. He says it’s possible law enforcement agencies from outside Weld County could come into his jurisdiction to enforce an extreme risk protection order, but it’s not likely.
Reams also said that while constituents are his boss, a district court judge could punish him for not confiscating a gun under an order based on the potential “red flag” law.
“They could sentence me to my own jail, fine me, or hold a contempt hearing to further this argument along. And honestly, I think any of those possibilities are out there,” Reams said.
While it’s not likely the sheriff would end up in his own jail, Reams and dozens of other sheriffs are ready to challenge the bill to the very end.
Sheriff Reams describes his county as very conservative, where many people own guns and are against the measure.
The sheriff says if the law passes, its possible sheriffs could fight it in the courts — perhaps, even, the Supreme Court.