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March 04, 2019 03:39 PM UTC

El Paso County Sheriff Slams "Second Amendment Sanctuaries"

  • by: Colorado Pols

Last Friday, several of Colorado’s leading legislators on the issue of “defending the Second Amendment” including pistol-packing Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone sent a letter on official Capitol letterhead asking Weld County Commissioners to do something very unusual, especially coming from a state lawmaker: to declare the county a “sanctuary” where a law creating Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove guns from mentally ill people in crisis would not be enforced:

Something you don’t see every day–a letter from three state lawmakers encouraging a county government to declare themselves a “sanctuary,” in which a state law that hasn’t even become law yet would be disregarded. While this does raise some novel questions, including whether Colorado Republicans just blew up their own position in the larger federal debate over “sanctuary city” policies, it’s certainly not very defensible from a standpoint of supporting…well, the rule of law. This is something that lawmakers are by definition not supposed to do, but as readers know latter-day Republican politics have become a little screwy where such previously inviolate fundamentals are concerned.

But as we can see from the reaction from El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder–who is not a supporter of the ERPO bill by any stretch–upholding the rule of law still matters to people who stop and think about the implications of starting down this road:

Sheriff Elder is of course referring to the landmark 1803 decision of Marbury v. Madison, which established that only the courts have the power to define laws and strike down laws as unconstitutional. As any Poli Sci 101 student knows, this decision is absolutely essential to the proper functioning of the American system of government.

Although you might not agree with Sheriff Elder on this particular bill or any number of other issues, his respect for the law–and more importantly our system of passing and reviewing laws to ensure they are just–is commendable. As for lawmakers pushing local governments to undermine judicial review of the law out of spite or pique or passion or whatever?

Perhaps we should find a term other than “lawmaker” to describe them.


44 thoughts on “El Paso County Sheriff Slams “Second Amendment Sanctuaries”

    1. What planet do Lori and Perry live on now? Not ours, that's for sure. Did they miss the case of Chris Watts, who killed his wife and kids last year in Weld County and stuffed them in a tanker? Oh, he didn't murder with a gun. But could more court attention to Watts'threats  have saved their lives?

      Weld actually had a low rate of gun deaths relative to other Colorado counties, but that doesn't mean that increased judicial attention couldn't have saved some lives.  The majority of Weld's gun deaths were suicides of older men. Their lives matter, too, and taking the guns away could have saved theirs.

      Really have to wonder why these two lawmakers are so ironically claiming that red flag laws  could "leave  innocent women and children defenseless if an ex-spouse or domestic partner could use an extreme risk protection order to gain advantage."

      They are seemingly clueless about the women and kids who die by guns in domestic violence daily.

      They are betraying their sisters and mothers – all for RMGO money.

      Colorado had ~ 13 firearms deaths / 100,000 people in 2017, more than most states that are not southern states. 136, according to the CDC.

      You want to take the guns away from the violent criminals and the mentally ill. This will protect more of the "defenseless women and children", as well as the older men who take their own lives. Everyone except Lori and Perry knows this.



      1. So…you are suggesting that taking away Chris Watts guns could have saved his families lives since he killed them without using guns. OK. 

        You are adamant about saving the lives of suicidal old men while supporting Death with Dignity by having the police/3rd party render them indignant. OK.  

        You parade CO gun deaths as more than most states while failing to accept that you were an active participant in support of laws in 2013 that were touted to reduce gun deaths, and you expect people to believe your opinion on the matter holds credibility when in fact it has proven to be the opposite. 

        Ground control to Major Mam. 

        1. Did you have to shit on your typewriter to produce this missive of stupidity.  Guns good.  Killing people without guns also good because it show guns not used for killing.  Guns good.  Libs bad.  Me no care about victims as long as I can say they not killed by guns.  Only deranged human.

        2. 1. The reason I bring up the Watts tragedy is that a) it was in Paine and Buck's home county, Weld, b) it speaks to the issue of deadly domestic violence perpetrated against the "women and children" Paine and Buck are supposedly trying to protect, c) the ERPO process would be just one more tool to use against domestic violence, whether or not it was applicable in the Watts case.

          2. Yeah, I do care about preserving the lives of suicidal old men. This is not a contradiction to my support for Death with Dignity. Suicides by gun are messy and traumatic for the survivors; assisted suicides are gentler and more humane. It's a process with a lot of safeguards built in.

          3. No, violent crime and aggravated assaults have actually increased in Colorado since 2014, after a brief dip from 2013-14; this does not mean that the 2013 gun laws failed. Per the Chieftain's reporting, citing CBI statistics:

          Mandatory background checks stopped 7,227 would-be gun buyers in Colorado last year for reasons that ranged from the 31 people who had homicide records to the more than 1,300 people either arrested or convicted of assault.

          Another 252 actually had active warrants for their arrest when they attempted to buy guns.

          None of this will persuade you; but I'll put it out there for those who care.

          1. The Chieftain fails to report there were more denials in 2012 (7,362) before the law was enacted, so if you are going with that as your litmus test, it has once again, proven a failure. 

      2. C'mon, the worst that could happen is that more innocent women and children die because mentally ill people have access to guns.  

        You know it's hard to convince gun nuts of a downside there, right? 

  1. The late great Justice Scalia would no longer be Welcome in Weld with rhetoric like this from Heller – "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    1. can the governor remove elected county official for malfeasance? Wasn’t there a DA is a rural mountain county who was removed a few years ago? But I think he was charged with an actual crime, not felonious stupidity.

  2. This is a national trend. This was a Reuters headline from this morning: Defiant U.S. sheriffs push gun sanctuaries, imitating liberals on immigration

    Of course, immigration "sanctuary" policies are based in the upholding of due process by not honoring non-judicially approved detentions and not performing work for which state and local agents are not legally tasked to perform.

    Law enforcement in so-called "gun sanctuaries" would be in violation of sworn duties if they actively refused to enforce a judicially issued ERPO, perform a mandated background check, or other legal duty. One could argue discretionary prioritization on some items, but this article is talking outright refusal to perform mandated duties…

        1. Due process is a very elastic concept, Negev. One size does not fit all.

          If I may quote President Trump who once said: Take the guns away from them and then let them have their day in court.

        2. I'll fall for it. Clarify the lack of due process in a "red flag" scenario. 

          How are gun owners being deprived of "due process" in comparison to the allowed actions in eminent domain, civil forfeiture, involuntary commitment, "no-fly" lists, automobile towing from public streets, FCC voiding broadcasting licenses, or other government action?

          1. Let me save Negev the trouble: None of those activities are protected by the Second Amendment. 

            I know, regarding the "No Fly" list, there are Supreme Court decision that recognize an implied right to travel like Griswold, Roe and Obergefell. But constitutional conservative – as they like to call themselves – do not recognized the implied constitutional rights.

            Of course, regarding the FCC licensing, there actually is an amendment that covers speech and press, and it comes before the Second Amendment. 

          2. Eminent domain is provided just compensation and private property is converted to public use. 

            Civil forfeiture assumes the same controversial due process issues as red flag laws and are highly contested from all sides but in Feb the Supreme Court ruled that the 8th Amendment bars excessive fines in a 9-0 decision. While this does not halt civil forfeiture, it is noted that it requires proof that the seized property was used in connection with a crime

            Involuntary commitment is what should be used in place of red flag and detains persons found to be unable to function independently. 

            You have no Constitutional right to fly.

            You are required to abide by laws on public streets. If you are towed illegally for no reason you may have a case, but if you have entered public property and have violated the law you are subject to the penalty. You have no Constitutional right to drive. 

            I don't know anything about FCC voiding broadcasting, but would stand by anyone who falls victim to restrictions of free speech with no proof of violation. 

            You are innocent until proven guilty. Not the other way around. You should appreciate that.  


              1. Involuntary detention requires the state to prove your are incapable of independent function and a threat to society. Red Flag requires you to prove your are not. 

                1. Wrong.

                  The petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm. The petitioner must submit an affidavit signed under oath and penalty of perjury that sets forth facts to support the issuance of a temporary ERPO and a reasonable basis for believing they exist. The court must hold a temporary ERPO hearing in person or by telephone on the day the petition is filed or on the court day immediately following the day the petition is filed.

                  After issuance of a temporary ERPO, the court must schedule a second hearing no later than 14 days following the issuance to determine whether the issuance of a continuing ERPO is warranted. The court shall appoint counsel to represent the respondent at the hearing. If a family or household member or a law enforcement officer establishes by clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm, the court may issue a continuing ERPO.

                  The burden of proof is clearly on proving the danger, not on proving innocence.

                  1. Wrong.

                    Upon issuance of the ERPO, the respondent shall surrender all of his or her firearms and his or her concealed carry permit if the respondent has one. The respondent may surrender his or her firearms either to a law enforcement agency or a federally licensed firearms dealer. If a person other than the respondent claims title to any firearms surrendered to law enforcement, the firearm shall be returned to him or her.

                    The respondent can motion the court once during the 364-day ERPO for a hearing to terminate the ERPO. The respondent has the burden of proof at a termination hearing. The court shall terminate the ERPO if the respondent establishes by clear and convincing evidence that he or she no longer poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to self or others by having in his or her custody or control a firearm or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm. The court may continue the hearing if the court cannot issue an order for termination at that time but believes there is a strong possibility the court could issue a termination order prior to the expiration of the ERPO.

                    1. You're twisting the timeline, Negev;  the hearing you're referring to is AFTER the continuing ERPO has been granted.   The hearing where the ERPO is continued is where the burden of proof lies upon the accuser, and the hearing you're pointing out is after the ERPO was extended to 364 days. 

                      After issuance of a temporary ERPO, the court must schedule a second hearing no later than 14 days following the issuance to determine whether the issuance of a continuing ERPO is warranted. The court shall appoint counsel to represent the respondent at the hearing. If a family or household member or a law enforcement officer establishes by clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm, the court may issue a continuing ERPO. The ERPO prohibits the respondent from possessing, controlling, purchasing, or receiving a firearm for 364 days.

                      Two weeks

                      Two weeks for a potentially dangerous person to be without their firearm(s) before a hearing is too much for you to bear. 


                    2. What Curmudgeon said. Also…

                      Once you've already had due process showing clear and convincing evidence prevented that you *are* a danger, you then get a chance to prove you're no longer a danger, which is your burden. And the judge can grant you ongoing chances if she thinks you're just not quite there yet. And then, after a year, the burden (I think) automatically falls back to proving you continue to present a significant danger and require a new ERPO.

                    3. There is not a person on the planet that is not potentially dangerous. 

                      Shhhhhhh comrade Negev . . . 

                      Including all those “good guys” with arsenals that would be the envy of most third-world countries?   Maybe, that’s why we need some reasonable limitations and restrictions?

                      . . . you’re making our point!

            1. You are innocent until proven guilty. Not the other way around. You should appreciate that.  

              Except that plenty of people have their rights restricted or even suspended while their guilt or innocence is determined.  

              By your logic, no one should be incarcerated or be placed under any restrictions prior to their conviction.


                1. Why is Curmy supposed to prove that he is / was a victim…to you?

                  It doesn't actually make any difference to you, either way. I've told you that I was a victim in a red flag situation. You don't care.

                  My neighbors and the perp's relatives took away his guns. The police weren't interested in doing anything about the guns, although I did have a restraining order. They did not have a policy of confiscating weapons, without incarcerating the offender.

                  This is a guy who obviously is not responsible enough to have guns. He (recently) has shot a hole in his own sewer pipe while target practicing in his basement. He has threatened a cop while manic. He has allowed drug dealers to come into his home and help themselves to his guns. That's all aside from threats to me, which were many years ago now.

                  So my grown children keep his guns. They break them out once in a while to take the old dude target shooting. I'd like to see this ERPO legislation passed, though, to give legal standing to the confiscation.

                  1. Curmie does not have to prove he was a victim, my request was to identify what crime was committed in any red flag situation. There are none.

                    You were not a victim in a red flag situation. You were the victim of domestic violence. He violated a restraining order. That is a crime. He threatened a cop. That is a crime. He allowed his guns to be used in part of the crime of drug dealing, and (presumably) committed the crime of improper discharge of a firearm. 

                    Any one of these crimes already preclude an individual from possessing or purchasing a firearm. 



                    1. You're deliberately missing the point. Of course there are crimes committed prior to a "red flag situation" and petition for ERPO.

                      But the police are not in the habit of actually taking custody of the offender's guns, unless the person has them in hand at the time of arrest. My own story, with the offender having upwards of 30 guns in the house at the time of his offenses and incarcerations and involuntary commitments,illustrates this well.

                      I asked the police to keep his guns; they refused. Mutual friends and the perp’s relatives took his guns, which was probably a crime on their part, since they had no legal title. Same thing with my adult kids now, who have custody of the guns; it’s a grey area legally.

                      ERPO gives a mechanism by which law enforcement may enforce the law and enhance public safety. That is all.

                    2. There is no requirement of a prior crime to enact a red flag confiscation. That is the point. Hence the due process issue. 

                      If you are or have been convicted of a crime that precludes you from the possession or purchase of a firearm the mere fact you have one is a violation of current law.


      1. Guns don't have rights.  People who own guns have rights.  People who get shot by guns have rights.  We have rights running out of our asses.

        The trick is to move beyond rights to civilisation.

        Because dead people got no rights.

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