Colorado’s Newest Red Flag ERPO Bill Is Worse Than You Think – And Gun Owners Should Be Worried

 

Colorado’s Newest Red Flag ERPO Bill Is Worse Than You Think : Rally for our Rights Colorado

Democrat state lawmakers have introduced a Red Flag Emergency Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill into the 2019 Colorado legislative session. This bill, HB19-1177, which was introduced Thursday, February 14th, is far worse than a previously introduced bill which died in 2018.  Question everything you hear the media say about this legislation. The devil is in the details.

Here’s the claim of what this bill does:

A family member or law enforcement officer would petition a court to request the ability to immediately seize a person’s guns. If a judge signs the order, the weapons can be taken away and the court must hold a hearing within 14 days to determine whether to extend the seizure and bar the person from purchasing more firearms. The longest a judge could order the seizure of firearms is 364 days. The entire process is a civil, not criminal, proceeding.

Now let’s break down the bill language:

Who can petition the courts? 

According to the bill summary and media reports, only family or household members, and law enforcement can petition the courts. But what is the definition of “family member” and “household member”?

According to the bill language, “family or household member” means:

• Person related by blood, marriage, or adoption;

• Person who has a child in common with the respondent, regardless of whether such person has been married to the respondent or has lived together with the respondent at any time;

•  Person who regularly resides or regularly resided with the respondent within the last six months;

• Domestic partner of the respondent;

• Person who has a biological or legal parent-child relationship with the respondent, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren;

• Person who is acting or has acted as the respondent’s legal guardian;

• A person in any other relationship described in section 18-6-800.3 (2) with the respondent.  [So, what does 18-6-800.3 (2) say? “Intimate relationship” means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.]

Say what?!  This is who they define as a “family member” or “household member”?  This person doesn’t need to be either a family member or a household member.  We’re talking scorned ex’s, those pretending to be scorned ex’s, angry former roommates, those in custody disputes, and so on.  And that’s not even touching on law enforcement’s ability to petition for an ERPO.  Co-worker mad?  All they have to do is make a report to the police that you’re a danger to yourself or another, and they can have your firearms confiscated.

What is needed to file the ERPO petition?

The filing of the ERPO petition can be done either in person or over the phone.  The petition must be filed in the county court of where the accused lives – but since the petitioner can do it over the phone, they don’t even need to be in the same state.  There is NO filing fee.  The petitioner even has the option to not provide their address – for safety, of course – never mind the address could simply be left off any actual order as they do with temporary restraining orders.

Questions that will be asked on the petition include how many firearms the accused has, what types, and where the are located.  This doesn’t only include ownership – it also includes possession, custody, or control.  Petitioners are also asked to disclose if there are any other legal actions pending between parties, such as: current restraining orders, lawsuits, civil suits, custody cases, etc, but the existence of such cases shall not delay or prevent an ERPO from being granted.

And finally, no one is required to tell the accused that a petition is being filed or has been filed.

What happens after the ERPO petition is filed?

Once an ERPO is filed, a hearing will be set either the same day or the next day.  Once again, the petitioner does not need to be present. They can attend this hearing over the phone, while never being required to show proof of any relationship to the accused, and not even provide their address!  At this hearing, the petitioner will be asked to provide a “preponderance” of evidence with the goal being to convince the fact finder judge that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.  Now, remember, this is over the telephone.

What kind of evidence are they looking for?  A recent act or credible threat of violence, even if such act does not involve use of a firearm.  Self harm or threats of self harm within the past year.  A prior violation of a protection order.   A previous ERPO.   Prior domestic violence convictions.  Prior ARREST, not even conviction, of a whole host of other crimes.  Ownership, access to, or intent to purchase a firearm.  Drug or alcohol abuse.  Recent acquisition of a firearm or ammunition.  How do you provide this evidence during a telephone hearing?

At this hearing the court will either approve or deny the ERPO.  If it is denied, they must document reasoning for denial.  Judges will err on the side of caution.  Once the ERPO is approved, a warrant to search the home for weapons is also issued.  All while the only person who has no idea this is happening, is the person being accused of no crime.

How will the ERPO be enacted?

Once the ERPO and warrant are in hand, it’s time for the police to take action.  Considering we see SWAT teams show up to homes where someone is reported to possibly be suicidal, it won’t be pretty.  The county sheriff is required to work with city police.  They will show up at the door without so much as a warning, manually deliver the order, ask the accused to surrender their firearms, and if they refuse or claim to have none, they will search the home.  Honestly, even if firearms are surrendered, they will likely STILL search the home.  Did the petitioner make claim you have firearms at a place of business?  Expect that location to be included on the search warrant.  During this interaction, law enforcement is required to determine if the accused should be put into a 72 hour involuntary commitment hold.

It is not unlikely children, spouses, even co-workers will be present during these raids.

Once the firearms have been confiscated, the accused will be asked if they’d like to sell them, store them with law enforcement, or store them with a FFL.  The accused’s information will also be added to the CBI and NICS database prohibiting them from purchasing guns.

Along with the order that will be delivered upon the accused, a court date for 14 days later is given.  This will be the first opportunity the accused will have to speak on their own behalf.

What happens at the 14 day ERPO hearing? 

Prior to the hearing, the court will appoint an attorney or the accused can obtain their own or they can proceed self represented.  Because no one has been charged with a crime, these are civil cases, not criminal.  This means public defenders are not used, but instead the state would appoint one from a pool of attorneys who have agreed to work these cases.  These are not provided at no cost – unless you qualify as indigent according to the court.  It is unclear what the cost will be.

During this hearing the petitioner and the accused will have the ability to provide evidence, call witnesses, cross examine witnesses, etc.  The petitioner does not need to be present, and can provide sworn affidavits.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will either dismiss the ERPO, and the firearm rights of the accused will be restored and their guns returned.  Or the temporary ERPO will become a permanent ERPO.  This would mean it will remain in effect for 364 days.  The judge has the discretion to schedule hearings sooner than the 364 days if he or she believes the order should be lifted sooner.  The accused also has ONE opportunity during that 364 day period to request a hearing.  If they do request a hearing, the petitioner is alerted and that person can request it be denied.

What happens when the 364 days is up?

Whew, it’s been a long year by this point.  So what happens now?  The petitioner will be alerted that the ERPO is going to expire, and they can request it be extended.  If this happens, another hearing similar to the one at 14 days will take place.  And it begins again…

What are the penalties?

Any person who has in his or her custody or control a firearm or purchases, possesses, or receives a firearm with knowledge that he or she is prohibited from doing so by an ERPO or temporary ERPO is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

What can you do to help stop this? Contact your state lawmakers and urge them to oppose this legislation.  CLICK HERE to find contact info for your legislators.  

Attend the first legislative hearing at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday, February 21st at 1:30pm where the bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee!  This hearing is open to the public to both watch and to testify.  RSVP and get more details about the hearing on Facebook here (RSVP not required).  

Watch the video below as we go line by line through this 30 page bill and highlight everything stated in this article.

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Why Common Sense Gun Laws Only Criminalize The Law Abiding

Why Common Sense Gun Laws Only Criminalize The Law Abiding : Rally for our Rights Colorado

The alleged “common sense” gun laws start to sound more and more like denial of rights, firearms seizures and criminalization of law abiding citizens than solutions to gun safety.

For me, and many of my friends, common sense gun laws would include: firearms safety training *gasp* IN SCHOOLS and elsewhere, taught by qualified firearms instructors. It is, well, asinine, to see that in today’s society, when students post pictures of themselves behaving safely or training with firearms, schools suspend, expel or contact police. They should encourage safe training. Common sense, eh?

Additionally, these same hypocrites claim, “Only trained people should BE ALLOWED to have/use firearms.” Okay, so if we even compromise and give them that point, they are hysterical when they encounter pictures or videos of people training. “Look what they are doing! They are preparing for war, to kill people.”

Umm, what do they call training? It no doubt does NOT involve actually handling a firearm.

It is obvious they don’t want law-abiding citizens to be trained in safe weapons handling.

When one of Longmont, CO’s citizens proposed the city recognize a “Firearms Safety Day,” via a proclamation, the mayor (allegedly a strong 2A supporter) nixed it as “too controversial,” and another council member claimed she would walk out and not be part of it. So are they opposed to gun safety? Or in favor of unsafe firearms use?

Clearly, safety training with firearms is obviously NOT considered “common sense.”

Perhaps we should breakdown the deaths involving firearms. According to a recent New York Times article, in 2017 the United States saw 39,773 deaths from firearms. This number INCLUDES self-defense shootings, police shootings of criminals, accidental deaths and – the largest percent – suicides.

Almost 24,000 (60%) were suicides. Tragic, yes, it is. But that should be dealt with through mental health programs and intervention, NOT by attacking the rights of law-abiding citizens. Where is the outcry on that issue? Common sense.

Since doing completely away with the Second Amendment has been so difficult, the big trend now is to deny the First, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and probably more. I am referring to Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO or Red Flag laws). These laws allow virtually anyone to claim to police they feel threatened, overheard scary gossip, or just don’t like you – and police can seize your firearms (actually any “weapons”) for anywhere from weeks to months to forever. No need to prove guilt – you must prove your innocence! 

It’s been asked before, repeatedly, and never answered: How does restricting – nay, infringing – on the rights of law abiding citizens by passing more laws stop criminals? Can someone please explain how lawbreakers will be foiled by more laws? In fact, somewhere over 80% of the recent mass shootings have been in “gun free” zones. Not working too well, eh? Trash them; common sense.

The real problem, as I and others have said before, isn’t firearms. It is NOT “gun violence.” It is violence. Guns can – and do – protect us from violence.

Let’s address the issue of VIOLENCE. Address how to deal with the perpetrators of violence, how to prevent suicide and get help for the chronically depressed. Not demonize our protection from the evil in society.

If the anti-rights crowd wants to sit down and have a REAL conversation about common sense and compromise, I think we would listen. But as long as all they want is to push an agenda and dismantle the United States‘ Constitution….keep your hands off my guns – and my God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights.

Tired of being demonized as a law abiding gun owner?  Help us get these billboards up!  Donate here: www.gofundme.com/gun-rights-billboards

gun rights save lives billboard colorado rally for our rights

Questions Everyone Should Be Asking About Red Flag Emergency Risk Protection Gun Laws

Questions Everyone Should Be Asking About Red Flag Emergency Risk Protection ERPO Gun Laws : Rally for our Rights Colorado

If you’re not familiar with Red Flag Laws, also known as Emergency Risk Protection Orders (ERPO),  you’re not paying enough attention.  And if you know what Red Flag Laws are and support them, you’re probably also not paying enough attention.

Red Flag Laws allow an intimate partner, former intimate partner, or family member to make a report to the courts with claims that an individual is going to either hurt themselves or others with a firearm.  Within 24 hours the court hears a preponderance of evidence and issues an order to have the persons gun confiscated.

To some people, this sounds good on the surface.  I mean, who doesn’t want to save lives?  But feel good laws like these do more harm than good, and this one is no exception.  In fact, it may be one of the worst.   These laws lack due process, they grossly violate our right to keep and bear arms, and they would have a chilling effect on free speech.  Not to mention they would prevent people who truly need help from seeking it – especially those who are suicidal.

There are many questions we should be asking.  Here are some that I’ve developed after reading through the language in these proposed bills in many states.

• How can lawmakers ensure a stalker or domestic abuser is prevented from using an ERPO to disarm their victims, potentially putting those in our society who need protection the most in harms way?

• Are there safeguards in place to prevent this from being used as a form of retaliation or as a hate crime – for example being used to disarm a transgender person, a person of color, or a certain religion?

• Why is all information such as accusers, allegations, accusations, etc sealed and require a court order for release?

• Many of these ERPO’s allow the accuser to report via telephone, as well as attend the initial hearing via telephone – making these easier to obtain than a Temporary Protection Order, opening the door to rampant abuse.

• What kind of proof is required that the accuser is or has been in an intimate relationship with the accused, or is a family member?

• What kind of punishment would be in a Red Flag Bill for false accusers?

• Will requiring police to confiscate the guns of people who could be innocent, put law enforcement officers in harms way?

• When these confiscation orders are being carried out, quite likely against someone who is innocent, will that put families and children at risk?

• Why are these laws being promoted as “mental health” laws when in fact they have no mental health components?

• Because the accused who would have their firearms confiscated has not been accused of a crime, they would not be eligible for a public defender to get their firearms back, leaving the poor in our society at a disadvantage.

Do you have other questions that I have missed?  Drop them in the comments.  

Here is how these laws would work:

Step 1: A petitioner (either a current or former intimate partner, or a family member, with no proof required) makes a report via telephone or in person that you have firearms, have bought firearms, or have bought ammunition – and that they have heard you make a threat that you may harm another or yourself.

Step 2: A court hearing is scheduled within 24 hours either over the phone or in person with the petitioner to determine if an Emergency Risk Protection Order (aka Red Flag Order) should be issued.  The one most important person notably missing from this hearing is YOU.  You are not even so much as informed that this hearing is taking place.  During this hearing the judge will hear a “preponderance of evidence” from the petitioner, and only the petitioner, with the goal to convince the fact finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.

Step 3: An Emergency Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is issued.  The sheriff’s department will visit your home and demand you turn over your firearms, and if you refuse to comply, they will be confiscated by force (placing everyone present in a dangerous situation).  YOU will be left alone, without what may be your most important means of self defense – your firearm – because someone just had it confiscated.  It doesn’t matter if you bought that firearm to protect yourself from a stalker, an abuser, or simply to walk home from work late at night. It also doesn’t matter if the person who requested your firearms be confiscated is that same abuser or stalker.

Step 4: Then, and only then, will you be given instructions as to how to defend yourself in court and get your firearms back.

You can read more about Colorado’s 2018 version of the Red Flag Bill here.  A new bill has not yet been introduced for the 2019 legislative session, but it undoubtedly will be.

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