Contact Lance Cayko
For Immediate Release 7/1/19
Beyond the Red Flag
by Bonnie Pyle
Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), or Red Flag Laws, are now a reality in Colorado with the passage of HB19-1177 as well as several other states. This is a law that makes “swatting“ legal. No one is immune to the possibility of being labeled a danger to themselves or others under this new law; your ex, your boss, your father-in-law, even your neighbor with the noisy dog.
This poorly written legislation is opposed by most in law enforcement along with a significant number of private citizens. Sanctuary cities and counties have been announced all across the country, and many sheriffs are refusing to enforce this law. In fact, more than half of Colorado counties have said they will not comply with this new law in Colorado. Colorado makes protection orders are very easy to obtain, a trip to your local law enforcement agency with a story about how you feel you, or that your property is threatened, is all it takes. If law enforcement is called and charges are filed, an immediate mandatory protection order goes into effect, the person charged must surrender all firearms and ammunition within 24 hours.
In Colorado domestic violence or abuse extends to any act of damage or abuse directed toward property of the victim. This includes animals. For instance, if someone kicks your dog you can get a protection order because this is abuse of your property.
Temporary protection orders are usually granted the same day they are requested. The person the order is against must obey the terms or face arrest. If the alleged victim seeking a temporary protection order claims the person, they seek the order against owns guns, that is noted on the order along with the notation that those guns must be surrendered if the temporary protection order is made permanent.
We also have Safe 2 Tell, a program widely available in schools that allows students to anonymously report any kind of threats. This of course includes child abuse, real or threatened. If the report includes a mention of guns in the home, the gun owner could lose those guns if any charges are filed.
Child abuse hotlines are another resource for individuals to report threats specific to children or at-risk adults. Most reports come from school staff who hear things of concern from their students, including reports of guns in the home. If any reports lead to police involvement or protection orders, gun owners could lose their guns.
If the point isn’t already obvious it’s this, there are already numerous ways for people to report threats, obtain protection, and even have guns taken away. And as shown, protection orders are extremely easy to obtain. Unlike the Red Flag Laws these established methods offer the accused a hearing and the opportunity to defend him or herself. Red Flag Laws take away that due process, which of course, is supposed to be the foundation of the American justice system vis a vie innocent until proven guilty.
Whether or not the Red Flag Laws are enforced, they have had an impact. Perhaps even leading to more “gun threats“ in traditional protection orders. Fortunately, this route allows the accused a day in court, but what happens if the judge’s personal beliefs lean towards gun control? Judges are meant to be impartial, their sole purpose to uphold the law.
However, judges are human, and they have their own political affiliations and beliefs. Upholding the law often requires personal interpretation of the law. Does anyone really believe that interpretation can be completely free of personal beliefs? Could a judge rule against a gun owner because of his or her personal feelings about guns?
Victims and potential victims absolutely need easy access to protect themselves and their property. We already have plenty of laws offering this protection, laws that provide at least a measure of due process. Not only should people be aware of these laws and their processes, but they need to be familiar with the judges upholding them. We all have the right to be safe, but we also have a right to due process, a right to keep and bear arms, and a right to self-defense.
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Bonnie is a libertarian living in Teller County, Colorado. She’s passionate about fitness, animal rescue, and an avid outdoor adventurer.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lance Cayko at 303.775.7406 or email at CommunicationsDirector@LPColorado.org.