DENVER — This story was originally published in March 2019 and reflects updates to make it current as of January 2020.
More than half of Colorado's 64 counties passed resolutions declaring themselves "2nd Amendment sanctuaries" in response to a piece of new gun control legislation.
The red flag law essentially allows for a judge to order someone’s guns be taken away temporarily if they’re considered to be a risk to themselves or others. The person would have to prove they’re no longer a threat to have their guns returned to them.
Many of the resolutions were passed before the bill became law, knowing the Democratic governor was likely to sign the bill from the Democrat-controlled legislature.
On April 12, 2019, Gov. Jared Polis sign the red flag bill into law. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
WHY ARE THESE COUNTIES PASSING THESE RESOLUTIONS?
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams has been vocal about his opposition from the beginning. The Board of Weld County Commissioners unanimously passed its resolution in early March 2019.
Reams argued the bill violates Constitutional rights, does little in the way of addressing mental health and says it could put law enforcement in danger if officers show up to a person's house - a person who's considered a risk - and attempt to seize their weapons.
“The very last choice I’d use in one of those situations is the use of a red flag law,” Reams previously told Next with Kyle Clark. “I’m going to go a different route any chance that I can.”
Through the resolution, the commissioners in Weld County said they would not put money toward building a storage facility for weapons seized by law enforcement. Additionally, the commissioners said they will support Sheriff Reams if he decides not to enforce the bill if it becomes a law.
While these counties each have their own resolutions, with their own language, the reasons for passing them have been similar across the board.
In Douglas County, however, the sheriff and county commissioners stand on opposite sides of the issue. Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who's pushed for the bill since 2018, became a face of the legislation. He believes a law like this could have prevented the death of Douglas County Deputy Zack Parrish, who was killed by a man known to law enforcement. The man fired at officers from several agencies when they responded to a call at the shooter’s apartment on Dec. 30, 2017.
Douglas County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a resolution there despite the sheriff's dissent.
WHICH COUNTIES HAVE PASSED RESOLUTIONS OPPOSING THE RED FLAG BILL?
9NEWS has confirmed these counties passed 2nd amendment sanctuary resolutions. If you know of one we're missing here, let us know. We'll update the list as we learn of changes.
- Alamosa County
- Archuleta County
- Baca County
- Bent County
- Cheyenne County
- Conejos County
- Crowley County
- Custer County
- Delta County
- Dolores County
- Douglas County
- El Paso County
- Elbert County
- Fremont County
- Garfield County
- Huerfano County
- Jackson County
- Kiowa County
- Kit Carson County
- Lincoln County
- Logan County
- Mesa County
- Mineral County
- Moffat County
- Montezuma County
- Montrose County
- Otero County (Otero has had a resolution like this since 2013)
- Park County
- Phillips County
- Prowers County
- Rio Blanco County
- Rio Grande County
- Teller County
- Washington County
- Weld County
- Yuma County
Morgan County has issued a statement of opposition to the law, but we are not aware of a passed resolution.
These cities have passed their own resolutions:
Cañon City and the town of Huxton are calling themselves "preservation cities."
WHAT HAPPENS IF COUNTIES CHOOSE NOT TO ENFORCE THE LAW?
If sheriffs refuse to follow judges' orders to seize someone's guns when that person is deemed dangerous, consequences for the sheriff could follow.
Under the law, sheriffs can be asked to take red flag requests from citizens to judges. If they refuse, they could get sued. If a judge issues a gun seizure order, and the sheriff refuses to enforce it, the judge could haul the sheriff in and hold them in contempt.
WATCH: Answering legal questions about 2nd Amendment sanctuaries
Conservative sheriffs similarly vowed not to enforce 2013 laws against high-capacity ammunition magazines. In that situation, however, judges weren't sending law enforcement into homes to look for magazines. This bill calls for sheriffs to get proactively involved on both the front side, taking red flag petitions to judges, and on the backside, in terms of seizing guns.
Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, supports the red flag law. His spokesman, Lawrence Pacheco, said before the bill passed that Weiser knows about the challenge posed by sheriffs refusing to enforce the law.
“He is aware of the issues and is studying them,” Pacheco said.
Weiser has previously said that county sheriffs who refuse to enforce the red flag bill when it becomes law should resign.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT THAN CITIES THAT CONSIDER THEMSELVES IMMIGRATION SANCTUARIES?
Some Next with Kyle Clark viewers have asked why a sheriff could face contempt charges for refusing gun seizures, but leaders of immigration sanctuary cities wouldn't face similar sanctions.
The difference is that immigration detainer requests from federal agents aren't mandatory court orders. Sanctuary cities often tell ICE to secure a judicial order if they want the local governments to comply. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have both expressed that sentiment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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