Colorado became the 15th state Friday to pass a "red flag" firearms law, allowing the seizure of firearms from people determined to represent a danger – just weeks after dozens of county sheriffs get be committed to not enforcing the law, with local leaders establishing what they called the second amendment "sanctuaries counties".
The law only garnered a Republican vote in the state legislature and sparked further efforts by gun rights activists to recall the Democrats who supported the measure. On Friday, in a fiery and lengthy statement on Facebook, Eagle County, Colorado, Sheriff James van Beek criticized the law as a well-meaning but "ridiculous" return to the 2002 film "Minority Report", and presented a crowd of objections from the forces of order.
Van Beek accused the law of treating suspected gun owners as "criminals", discouraging individuals from seeking treatment for mental health disorders and ignoring the reality that "a disturbed mind will not be deterred by the withdrawal of their firearms ".
Noting that cities with strict firearms laws still have high murder rates, van Beek said, "By removing the firearms from someone who commits suicide or committing murder, we let's always run the risk of seeing someone who could be unbalanced, now more angry than before and for another way … explosives, poisons, knives, car incidents to shoot down unsuspecting innocent groups. "
The Colorado law, approved by Democratic Governor Jared Polis, allows the family, household members or law enforcement to apply to a court to seize or surrender firearms on the basis of the demonstration. that someone poses a danger under the "preponderance of the evidence", according to the civil standard. which means that the defendant is more likely to be a threat.
"In other words, there is a bit more luck on 50% accuracy," wrote van Beek, noting that somebody's firearms could be seized even without that. " a mental health professional does not make a decision. "Like a coin, could not it apply to everything a person does?"
A subsequent hearing could extend the seizure of a firearm for up to 364 days, and gun owners can not keep their firearms, which they are responsible for demonstrating with "clear and convincing evidence" – a much higher criterion – that they are not actually a threat. Gun owners, van Beek said, are "guilty until proven otherwise" in this context.
The minority Republicans of the legislature had unsuccessfully tried to shift the burden of proof to the petitioner.
The passage of the law marked a personal victory for the first term of Democratic Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was shot dead during the 2012 Aurora Theater massacre, which left 12 dead and 70 wounded. The bill is expected to come into effect in January.
"Three Friday and one Friday since Alex's murder," began Sullivan, wearing his son's leather jacket at the signing ceremony of the bill he had sponsored.
"Being the parent of a murdered child, everything is stunted," said Sullivan, prompting the knowledge and tears to tears of several other shootout survivors standing behind him. "I'm happy, believe me. It just can not be unveiled because we have too much work to do. "
Alex Sullivan was 27 years old at the theater. Tom Sullivan, elected to the House of Commons in November, spends his life from Aurora advising survivors of other shootings in the country and campaigning for gun control.
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Responding in part to Sullivan's remarks, Van Beek focused on the work of his own county with a view to establishing partnerships to combat mental illness, which he described as a practical solution. Aurora shooter James Holmes has long suffered from mental illness.
"The red flag law may recall the movie" Minority Report "to regulate against what we think someone might do," wrote van Beek. "It's a bit like regulating by clairvoyance, but in this case we take someone's property and we ask him to appear in court to prove his innocence of a crime that was not Yet, they were punished because someone thought they could think about it. "
The sheriff continued, "I do not find any mental health program associated with this law." Just a possible drift of well-meaning citizens, without any infrastructure to meet the main purpose of the law: mental health with regard to concerns public security. "
Van Beek's message concluded that Colorado's law violated the second amendment. However, van Beek has explicitly refrained from declaring shrine county status and has suggested to his office to enforce the law.
"Withdrawing the weapons in a constitutionally dubious manner, without notice, denying the accused the ability to defend his charges, and then demanding medical services that are not available, in order to restore the rights of private property, then goes back to placing a bandage on the probability of an injury and not allowing its elimination until an injury has occurred, "he writes. "In other words, the whole process is ridiculous."
Van Beek added: "I stand alongside other sheriffs to oppose the Red Flag law for constitutional reasons, as well as for its inability to solve the real problems, namely the behavior and the It also imposes financial hardship on imminent budgets and law enforcement officials, violates citizens' rights, and actually acts against the mental health problems for which it was designed. to the origin. "
"The whole process is ridiculous."
Florida has passed its own law on the "Extreme Risk Protection Decree" after the Parkland School Massacre in 2018. Among other versions of the law include California, Connecticut, Delaware, the Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State, as well as Washington, DC
"Colorado has suffered more than our fair share of tragedies," Polis said Friday. This law will not prevent all gunshots, but it can be used in a targeted way to allow those who suffer from a mental health crisis to temporarily have a court order that helps them not to hurt themselves or others. Today, we may save the life of your nephew, your niece, your grandson. "
Gunmen have pushed Polis and some Democrats to support the bill. Senate Speaker Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, voted against the bill – mainly, observers said, as his predecessor was recalled in 2013 for his support for the latest major gun control campaign in the country. # 39; State.
This 2013 legislation introduced background and ammunition store checks as a result of the Aurora and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. In all, two Democratic legislators were recalled and another resigned for supporting these laws.
About half of Colorado's 64 counties – mostly in rural areas – passed resolutions opposing the new bill and declared themselves "sanctuaries of the second amendment".
The opposition of rural sheriffs sparked a warning last month from Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser, who said those who do not enforce the law should resign.
The law is named after Douglas County Sheriff MP Zackari Parrish III, a 29-year-old husband and father who was killed on New Year's Eve 2017 by a man with increasingly erratic behavior.
Parrish's boss, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle were present. Pelle's son, a deputy sheriff of Douglas County, was wounded in the shooting that killed Parrish.
Shovel said that he was working with Spurlock and other law enforcement leaders to develop protocols for safely enforcing protection orders.
Co-sponsor Alec Garnett, a Democrat and party leader in the House, pointed out that Colorado's law stands out with respect to the legal representation of gun owners.
"We have come a long way in this state since Columbine," said Garnett, referring to the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.
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In addition, a prosecutor refused to approve Friday criminal proceedings against the mayor of Pittsburgh and six members of the city council for the adoption of restrictions on firearms, which, according to defense fire, constitute a flagrant and deliberate violation of the law of the State.
Seven residents of the city have tried to file criminal complaints against Democratic mayor Bill Peduto, who enacted the law this week, and council members who voted in favor of passing bills. The complaints blame the mayor and the official oppression council and other leaders.
Andrew O'Neill Reilly of Fox News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.