A Disservice To Suicidal Individuals: CO’s Red Flag ERPO Law Will Only Exacerbate A Crisis

A Disservice To Suicidal Individuals: CO's Red Flag ERPO Laws Will Only Exacerbate A Crisis

“Red Flag” Extreme Risk Protection Order ERPO laws are picking up steam across the nation.  Some states have had them in place for many years, such as Connecticut who implemented theirs in 1999, or Indiana who crafted their law in 2005, and California jumped on the bandwagon in 2014.  I’ve written about how ineffective they have been in those states. But the past two years, other states are quickly following suit, including Colorado who passed one of the most egregious laws this past spring.  It will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Across the county, these laws are being touted as “suicide prevention” by anti-gun groups such as Everytown For Gun Safety and their grassroots arm, Moms Demand Action. Now, these groups have been known to tell half truths, mislead, and fear monger, but their claim that Colorado’s Red Flag law will reduce suicide is one of the most upsetting lies I have heard them tell.  That’s because suicide is very near and dear to my heart.  My sister committed suicide 4 1/2 years ago.

A Disservice To Suicidal Individuals: CO's Red Flag ERPO Laws Will Only Exacerbate A CrisisMy sister was my best friend.  She lived one town over, she was the mother to three, and our oldest daughters were born 5 weeks apart.  Her suicide rocked my world, and I still shed tears when I think about it.  I have her name with a semi-colon tattooed on my arm, my only tattoo.  I will never forget the night my mother and my sister came to my home to tell me she was gone, knowing I’d take it harder than anyone else. At first I was in denial as I insisted that she must just be in the hospital, and I needed to get to her. Once past denial, I needed to know where her body was. I got on the phone and desperately started calling people until I connected with the coroner.  Her body was in the morgue at a local hospital.  I so desperately wanted to be with it. I couldn’t imagine my sister alone in a cold morgue, awaiting autopsy. The next morning was when reality struck. The physical pain I felt in my heart when I awoke was something I had never experienced before and haven’t experience since. Watching her children mourn was heartwrenching. For them everything changed the day she made the choice to take her life.  The trajectory of their lives took a sharp, ugly turn.  I would do anything to be able to go back and help her that day. But I can’t.

A Disservice To Suicidal Individuals: CO's Red Flag ERPO Laws Will Only Exacerbate A CrisisMy sister didn’t use a firearm to take her life, although she was a gun rights supporting liberal.  She used a bottle of pain pills that had been prescribed to her by her doctor.

The claims that Colorado’s “Red Flag” ERPO law will help those in a suicidal crisis is disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst.  You see, Colorado’s law has no mental health component to it.  In fact, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams has testified to that many times, pointing out that the legislation asks law enforcement to enter the home of a suicidal individual who owns firearms (forcibly if necessary), confiscate those firearms, and leave both the person in crisis and many other tools to follow through with the act of taking their own life.

This is not compassion. This is not empathetic.  This is cruel.

There is also strong evidence that when responding to one of these suicidal ERPO’s, law enforcement will arrive with a SWAT team, not only exacerbating the crisis, but escalating it to the point of no return.  Early this year, one of our supporters, Ralph Shnelvar, took his own life.  He was going through a rough separation and his wife had reported to the police that he was suicidal and had a firearm.  Ralph sent worrisome emails to his close friends, who immediately went to his residence to try to offer help.  When they arrived, what they found instead was a large police presence and SWAT officers who spent several hours outside the home trying to get Ralph to come out of the residence.  Friends and family were blocked from talking to him. Eventually two police robots were sent inside the home where they found Ralph dead.  No one can tell me that SWAT did not exacerbate that entire situation, possibly causing and/or expediting the ultimate tragic death.

One of Ralph’s friends testified about this situation in front of a State Senate Committee during the “Red Flag” debate in March. Watch that video below.

This is what Colorado’s “Red Flag” law will look like.  SWAT teams going after those who are in crisis, or those who are innocent, another danger we’re facing as the legislation is so poorly written.  Here in Colorado a Tinder date turned stalker can petition the courts over the phone free of charge to have someone’s guns confiscated, and the judge who determines if they should do it, will base it off the lowest evidentiary threshold, a preponderance, meaning there only needs to be a 51% chance the accusations are true. Preponderance only requires more evidence than counter evidence, so given that the respondent is not able to respond until after the seizure of the guns no one will ever lose on that standard.

Let’s also talk about the fear these Red Flag laws will create for gun owners, especially veterans.  If we fear that reaching out for help will result in SWAT showing up at our house, those who need help will will stay silent, again only increasing suicides, instead of reducing them. We cannot stigmatize asking for help, just as we cannot stigmatize being a gun owner.

What can we do?

Gun owners are compassionate and caring, it’s often why they choose to train and carry in the first place.  Because they love their communities.  So we should be asking the question what can WE do? Unfortunately there are not a ton of gun owner specific suicide resources, which is unfortunate because it’s desperately needed.  But if you are a firearm owner and are suicidal – or someone else in your home is suicidal – there are options.  Hold My Guns is a private group who is working to partner with FFL’s and police departments to offer a place people can store firearms during a crisis.  There are also multiple suicide prevention hotlines. And recently CU Anschutz unveiled an interactive map that shows out-of-home gun storage facilities for this exact reason.  WTTA.org also offers non-crisis support to gun owners.

And then there are the crisis lines:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255, or chat online
Veterans Crisis Line:  Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or chat online
Have other resources I should add?  Drop them in comments.  And please know, you can always reach out to your friends at Rally for our Rights, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We’re here for you.  Contact us here

 

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Actually, Donald Trump Could “Red Flag” Chris Cuomo – And Here’s Why

HB19-1177 Colorado Red Flag ERPO Extreme Risk Protection Orders

In the wake of two tragic public mass shootings, one of which the National Gun Violence Memorial actually honored the perpetrator as a gun violence victim, calls for knee jerk gun control legislation has been front and center on both the left and the right.  Prominent Republicans such as President Donald Trump, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, and several senators are calling for “Red Flag” Extreme Risk Protection Order ERPO laws.

And now, after Colorado passed an atrocious “Red Flag” ERPO bill in 2019 – a bill that passed by only ONE vote in the hyper-partisan Democrat controlled legislature with every Republican and three Democrats voting against it – we might be looking at Colorado becoming a blueprint for the whole country, a very terrible idea.

Then yesterday I woke to this tweet from President Donald Trump: “Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant? Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon. He’s nuts!”

I, just like millions of others, had to hunt down exactly what Trump was talking about.  And I did.  Here’s what happened:

A man in New York approached CNN’s Chris Cuomo and called him “Fredo”.  Watch the video for the exact exchange, but here’s a snip…

Cuomo: “You’re going to have a problem”
Man: “What are you going to do about it?”
Cuomo: “I’ll fuckin ruin your shit. I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs”

Now here’s where I think this gets really interesting following Trump’s tweet; Cuomo could actually get Red Flagged for this.  The criteria fits perfectly.  This is why:

1.) He made a violent threat – and even though the threat was regarding stairs, not firearms, it STILL qualifies!  Below is an excerpt from HB19-1177, Colorado’s “Red Flag” ERPO law.  You can access it yourself here, scroll to the bottom of page 8 and top of page 9.

HB19-1177 Colorado Red Flag ERPO Extreme Risk Protection Orders

2.) We know he owns firearms because he has stated that on Twitter in the past.  Again in HB19-1177, it states another qualification is ownership, access to, or intent to posses a firearm.  Read it yourself here, scroll to the bottom of page 8 and top of page 9.

HB19-1177 Colorado Red Flag ERPO Extreme Risk Protection Orders

And his Tweet stating he’s a gun owner:

HB19-1177 Colorado Red Flag ERPO Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Now the person Cuomo threatened wouldn’t be able to bring forth the “Red Flag” ERPO petition (unless, of course, he wanted to state him and Cuomo had an affair in the past), but that person – or anyone for that matter – would be able to approach law enforcement and ask them to do it for him.  Or if an ex-girlfriend of Cuomo’s saw this, or maybe a live-in nanny he’d fired, they’d be able to go right to the court and file the petition themselves.

What happens next?   Well, Cuomo would get a visit from his local law enforcement agency with a temporary “Red Flag” order in hand, along with a search warrant to find all those guns he’s told us he owns.  Within 14 days, he’d be able to go to court and show the judge Trump’s tweet, and convince him or her that he is not a risk to anyone at all – even though he’d made the threats to throw that man down the stairs. If the judge doesn’t agree to return his guns, the order goes into effect for 364 days, during which time Cuomo will have one opportunity to ask the courts to get his firearms – his means of self defense – back. Of course, each time the court considers returning them, the person who brought forth the petition will be alerted and have an opportunity to ask the judge to not return them – FOREVER.

Sounds like some real “common sense gun legislation” doesn’t it?  <insert sarcasm>

But it proves the point of exactly how poorly these laws are written, and that Trump, as misguided (or not?) as his Twitter statement was, it is 110% accurate and not hyperbole at all. 

MUST WATCH! CO State Senator Kerry Donovan Is Called Out By Her Sheriff Over RED FLAG BILL And Loses It On Constituents!

This past Saturday I traveled to Salida, CO attend a town hall hosted by State Senator Kerry Donovan.  Donovan is a rural Democrat who has vote with Republicans on gun issues in the past.  Her district is largely pro-gun, and she knows it.  She also knows HB19-1177 “Red Flag” Emergency Risk Protection Orders ERPO is DANGEROUS POLICY for her gun owning constituents.  She should do the right thing and vote NO on this bill.  It is her duty as a representative of the communities she represents, including the sheriffs who oppose this legislation on safety grounds.  

Last Friday during the “Red Flag” ERPO Senate Floor debate, Donovan stated that she had spoken to Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze, as well as the county commissioners, and that they DID NOT oppose HB19-1177 and would NOT be adopting Second Amendment Sanctuary status.  But at her town hall the truth came out when the sheriff himself stated they had never had a conversation, that he opposed the bill, and that he would be asking his commissioners to seek Second Amendment Sanctuary status.  This was backed up by one of the county commissioners.  Then she loses it on her constituents..

 

Colorado HB19-1177 “Red Flag” Emergency Risk Protection Orders ERPO will be going to a final vote any day!  Contact these lawmakers by phone and email NOW!  

Kerry Donovan
[email protected]us
303-866-4871

Leroy Garcia
[email protected]us
303-866-4878

Rachel Zenzinger
[email protected]
303-866-4840

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Here’s Why Colorado’s Red Flag ERPO Bill Is One Of The Most Dangerous In The Nation

This year’s bill is being called an “Emergency Risk Protection Order” or ERPO in an attempt to lose the negative “Red Flag” reputation.  It is also being pushed more than ever as being about suicide prevention.  Don’t let any of it fool you.  The devil is in the details; it’s in the 30 pages of bill language.  You can read a complete break down of these 30 pages here, as well as watch a video going through the language line by line.

Here’s what you’ll hear the media say 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.”

Here’s what they wont tell you: 

• Almost anyone can request an ERPO without even showing their face or providing their address. The definition of “family or household member” is so broad it includes ex-lovers who you have never even lived with!  Or someone *claiming* you once had an affair.  And even old roommates.

• The initial report and hearing can be done over the phone, all while the accused is completely oblivious proceedings are taking place to have his or her firearms confiscated.  There is no due process at this first hearing – which is the hearing where permission is given to confiscate gun!  Even Colorado Attorney General Weiser admits to the lack of due process.  Watch his testimony here.

• The first time the accused learns someone has reported them will be when local law enforcement shows up at their door with an order AND a search warrant prepared to raid your home – while the accused never even committed a crime.  This search warrant is a BRAND NEW type of warrant that is created in the bill – a gun owner specific civil search warrant.  Read all about that here.

• 14 days later is the first time the accused will have a chance to defend themselves against this non-crime.  The burden of proof will fall on the accused, not on the petitioner who can actually provide affidavits rather than attend court!

• The guns will be confiscated for 364 days, during which time the accused only has one opportunity to ask the courts to lift the order.

• There is zero accountability for false accusers. In fact, the filing fee is $0! For comparison, requesting a Temporary Restraining Order in Colorado is $97.  Attorney General Weiser also admitted false claims will be par for the course. Listen to his statements here

• This bill is being touted as a “suicide prevention” bill, when in fact, the fear of having your firearms confiscated will make people terrified to ask for help when they need it, and will undoubtedly escalate situations rather than deescalate them..

• It is so rife for abuse, it can easily be used by someone’s stalker or abuser to have their victim disarmed – legally.

• The ERPO will go on a person’s permanent record EVEN if it is dismissed, meaning it will show up on background checks, etc.

Read a complete write up of the bill here: www.rallyforourrights.com/colorados-red-flag-erpo-worse-than-you-think