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CO sheriff refuses to enforce ‘red flag’ gun confiscation laws: ‘Sentence me to my own jail’

Row of handguns. (US Coast Guard Academy/Released)
April 02, 2019
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One Colorado sheriff has vowed not to enforce “red flag” gun confiscation laws if signed by Democrat Gov. Jared Polis, as expected.

Weld County Sheriff Steven Reams is from one of approximately half of the state’s 64 counties that have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries or vowed not to enforce a new “red flag” bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature, Fox News reported on Monday.

“They could sentence me to my own jail, fine me, or hold a contempt hearing to further this argument along, and honestly I think any of those possibilities are out there,” Reams said last week.

“It has so many constitutional questions I can’t go forward in good faith and carry out a law that I feel puts constituents’ constitutional rights at risk,” Reams added.

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“(Going to jail is) the absolute last thing I’d like to do,” Reams later told The Coloradan. “I’d much rather see this get worked out in the courts and dealt with in the courts before it ever comes to that point. But if and when the time comes, and this issue hasn’t been worked out in the courts, then yeah, this is the last choice that I have.”

If a judge orders Reams to enforce the law and he refuses, he could face jail time for contempt of court.

“If they’re such a significant risk to themselves that they shouldn’t have a gun, my feeling is the better focus is dealing with the person. So, let’s look at a mental health hold or something along those lines,” Reams said.

Polis is expected to sign the bill into law, making Colorado the 15th state to have “red flag” Extreme Risk Protection Orders that permit gun confiscation.

“The sheriff is also not a law-making position in our state, it is a law enforcement division,” Polis said last week.

The bill, like those in other states, would allow family members or other individuals to file a court petition to confiscate the guns of people suspected of posing an “extreme risk” to themselves or others. If the petition is granted, the person’s right to purchase or possess guns is stripped for up to one year. They would be forced to file an appeal to the court order.

The Colorado House passed the bill effortlessly but while it did pass through Senate, it wasn’t as easy with just a one-vote margin.

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First-term State Rep. Tom Sullivan and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett sponsored the bill.

Sullivan said, “This bill will give law enforcement and families the tools that they need to stop tragedies from constantly happening and save lives.”

Democrat Senate President Leroy Garcia voted against the proposed bill.

The last time Democrats controlled the House was in 2013, and they approved universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

Democrat Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has advised that those law enforcement officials who refuse to follow the law should resign, but he doesn’t suspect much of a punishment inflicted if they don’t.

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