Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a conservative pro-gun group, and Republican lawmakers are challenging Colorado’s red-flag law in Denver District Court, alleging Democrats failed to follow proper legislative procedure when passing the bill.
In April, Gov. Jared Polis signed the red-flag policy, also known as an extreme risk protection order, into law. The measure, which seeks to reduce gun violence, allows law enforcement to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms if a judge rules he or she is a threat to themselves or others. Since the February 2017 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., over a dozen states have passed similar red-flag laws.
The bill drew fierce pushback from Colorado’s Republican lawmakers, all of whom voted against it. Even Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, voted against the bill, reflecting Pueblo County’s support for Donald Trump in 2016. Some county sheriffs say they won’t enforce the law.
During debate in the House earlier this year, GOP lawmakers asked that the bill be read aloud at length, which is their right, but which they used as a de facto filibuster to slow progress on that bill and others. Democrats responded by having multiple clerks read different sections of the bill at once.
The gun lobby alleges this was a violation of the Colorado Constitution, and therefore the law should be annulled. The gun owners cited a case earlier this year in which a Denver judge sided with Republicans who accused Senate Democrats of violating the state constitution when they had several computers read a 2,000-page bill. The judge ruled reading a bill read at length must be “intelligible and comprehensive.”
During a news conference, reporters asked why the group isn’t challenging the law under the 2nd Amendment, which spells out protections for gun owners.
“This does not preclude any other lawsuits we might file. In fact, we are pursuing another lawsuit in case this is not successful,” said Dudley Brown, executive director for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
Brown was flanked by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs, Rep. Steven Humphrey of Severance, and Rep. Lori Saine of Dacono.
He said the group is also backing recalls against several lawmakers — up to nine House members and three senators, including Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat from Centennial whose son, Alex, was shot and killed in the 2012 Aurora theater massacre. Sullivan was a lead sponsor on the red-flag bill. That recall petition has yet to be filed with the Colorado secretary of state.
Brown refused to answer questions posed by a Colorado Independent reporter.