WELD COUNTY, Colo. – Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams disagrees so strongly with a gun bill making its way through the Colorado legislature that he’s willing to go to jail rather than enforce it.
“It’s a matter of doing what’s right,” he said.
He’s not the only one who feels so strongly.
The controversial “red flag” bill aims to seize guns temporarily from people who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
Colorado’s state Senate passed the bill Thursday by a single vote, without any Republican support, and the bill is expected to pass the House, possibly this week. With Democratic majorities in both chambers, state Republicans have too few votes to stand in the way.
But more than half of Colorado’s 64 counties officially oppose the bill. Many have even declared themselves Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties in protest.
Failure to enforce a court order to seize a person’s guns could mean sheriffs being found in contempt. A judge could fine them indefinitely, or even send them to jail to force them to comply.
Reams said it’s a sacrifice he’d be forced to make.
What is the bill?
Colorado’s “extreme risk protection order” bill would allow a family member, a roommate, or law enforcement to petition a judge to take someone’s firearms if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The push for legislation followed the death of Zack Parrish, the 29-year-old Douglas County deputy killed in 2017 by a man with an arsenal of weapons who authorities said had a history of bizarre behavior, including threats to police.
Parrish’s former boss, Sheriff Tony Spurlock, has been one of the most vocal advocates of the bill and said he believes it could have prevented Parrish’s death. Democratic House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, agrees.