Police in Denver, Colorado reportedly used the Centennial State’s new “red flag” law the day after it took effect to disarm a man “who allegedly beat his wife and made suicidal statements to investigators,” according to The Crime Report.
But the controversial law—named in memory of a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy killed by a mentally ill individual—does not have universal support from the public or the law enforcement professionals who will enforce it, according to a story in the Lakewood Sentinel.
The newspaper noted Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock could face a recall effort for having supported the legislation.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams reportedly will not enforce the law, Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader will enforce it but only in “very specific situations,” and El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder may challenge it on constitutional grounds, the newspaper reported.
The bill passed last year largely along party lines, with Democrats in support and Republicans “largely opposed.” This seems to be a pattern that crosses state lines and the national political landscape.
So-called “Red Flag” laws—more technically known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or “ERPOs”—are seen by many in the firearms community as a means of essentially stripping gun owners of their firearms based on hearsay evidence, without benefit of a trial or even due process.
Proponents of such laws contend they are a useful tool to disarm someone who is a serious threat to themselves or other people. Persons who are disarmed can get a hearing but only after the fact, essentially translating to being considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
According to KRDO News, Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper has concerns about the new law, and was one of its earliest critics.
“I feel that it’s a little better than I thought it was going to be but I still have some issues with the language. Particularly, we’re going after firearms and we’re doing very little to deal with the individual that is the problem,” Cooper explained in an interview with the news agency.
And that is a serious concern for many in the firearms community who argue that if someone is considered so dangerous they shouldn’t have a firearm, they are too dangerous to be in public. But you simply cannot go around jailing people for crimes you think they might commit, when they haven’t done anything.
While an individual may be legally stripped of their firearms, nothing prevents that person from buying a knife, machete, baseball bat or some other thing that could be used as a lethal weapon, and there are no background checks on any of those things.
One man in Maryland was killed by police in late 2018 when they attempted to serve him with an order, a fact not lost on gun rights activists who worry that “red flag” complaints could become the new “swatting” ploy used to harass people who haven’t committed any crime.
The Denver Post reported that the Denver District Attorney’s Office has hired a special investigator whose only job is to “search (for) evidence that a domestic violence suspect has a gun.” But criminals and crazy people can inflict lots of harm without using a firearm.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, as many as four times the number of people killed with rifles of any kind in any given year are murdered with knives or other cutting instruments, and lots of people are beaten or bludgeoned to death. Conservative Firing Line discussed that earlier this week here.
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