Byerley: Red flag ruckus

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By Nicole Byerley

Innocent until proven guilty no longer stands in Colorado. Colorado Democrats’ latest unconstitutional tomfoolery has now become law and is causing quite the ruckus among the right-leaning and Libertarians in our state.

House Bill 19-1177, the so-called “red flag” gun bill, was signed into law by our radical governor on Friday afternoon. The law is a disgusting attempt to preserve “public peace, health and safety” by stripping away citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

If an “extreme risk protection order” or ERPO is placed upon you, your firearms will be confiscated for a year, and the order can subsequently be renewed year after year. You only get one chance to prove your innocence, not before, but after you are required to surrender your rights away.

The law allows for a family member, relative, domestic partner, person who has resided with you in the past six months or a law enforcement agent to file a petition with the court to issue an ERPO. A hearing is held with the petitioner and evidence of the “respondent’s” danger to themselves or others must be demonstrated through history, patterns of behavior, etc., to issue the ERPO.

Once the court determines that an ERPO is warranted, the respondent receives a court order and possibly a search warrant of their home, vehicle, place of work, etc., and must surrender all firearms to the police or an authorized firearms dealer. Any concealed-carry weapons permit must also be revoked.

This is done without notice to the respondent and without a hearing to argue their side of the case.

The respondent is presumed guilty based upon the evidence of the petitioner. The burden of proof then falls on the respondent to prove their innocence to the court, after the fact, and they only get one chance per year to appeal the decision once the court order has been issued.

This is a constitutional violation of the highest magnitude. We should truly be worried about the wording of this law and the fact that it passed. What’s next?

Democrats claim this law will “help save lives.” One of the bill’s cosponsors is the father of a victim of the Aurora Theater Shooting. He feels this type of law is necessary to protect the public, and it would have prevented the tragedy.

I feel for the man. Losing a child must be the worst kind of grief. I understand wanting to try to do something to prevent other parents from experiencing this pain. Would this law have prevented the massacre? It is unlikely.

The Aurora mass shooting, much like the Columbine High School shooting, the Route 91 music festival shooting or the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School likely would not have been prevented by such a law. In most cases, family members, co-habitants and law enforcement had zero “red flags” on the perpetrators.

Some had a history of mental issues, which would prevent someone buying a gun by current legal standards, but no one involved in the perpetrator’s lives were concerned enough with their behavior to warrant an investigation.

Do we honestly believe that taking away someone’s firearms will prevent them from causing harm to themselves and others? A crazy, unstable person will commit a crime or cause violence with whatever means they have available to them.

They may steal a firearm. It is reasonable to think that this type of action may even escalate those violent tendencies in some situations. Should we also ban them from having kitchen knives, vehicles, baseball bats, household chemicals, ropes and anything else that they may try to use as a weapon instead?

Would this type of law have prevented people from using vehicles to run over groups of tourists or a knife-wielding psychopath from stabbing people in a public square or college campus? How shall we deal with those scenarios?

Taking away our constitutional rights without due process or a fair trial sets a dangerous precedent. It’s no wonder that some Colorado sheriff’s offices have already stated they will not enforce this law.

Several Colorado counties have declared that they will be “sanctuary counties” and won’t abide by this law. Expect a litany of lawsuits to begin in the very near future. When you start to erode our constitution, We the People will not stand for it.

Reach Nicole Byerley by e-mailing nicby0707@gmail.com.