Moffat County joins fight against gun bill in Denver
March 5, 2019
Moffat County is now officially a “sanctuary county,” at least for the purposes of protecting Second Amendment rights.
On Tuesday morning, March 5, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution declaring it will not support an attempt by Colorado's Legislature to curb Second Amendment rights in any way.
"We are on board with this," said Commissioner Donald Broom of the resolution. "It's very important to us."
It seems Moffat County is in good company with regard to protecting the Second Amendment. Several Colorado counties have already joined the chorus opposing anti-Second Amendment fervor and passed sanctuary county resolutions — including Custer and Freemont counties.
According to county clerk staff, Routt County has not considered or passed a “sanctuary county” resolution. Weld County is considering a similar resolution that is likely to pass at its commissioner's meeting, set for 9 a.m. Wednesday. A representative of Garfield County did not immediately return the Craig Press' call seeking comment.
The sanctuary county resolutions began after a bill was proposed in Denver that would allow courts to issue temporary extreme risk protection orders and seize guns from people who pose a risk to themselves or others.
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HB 19-1177 would allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to take away a resident's weapons for up to 14 days if that person is thought to be a threat. A judge could immediately issue a search warrant and seizure under what many refer to as a "red flag" bill.
The bill's sponsors, including representatives Tom Sullivan and Alec Garnett, both Democrats, say the legislation would prevent suicides and gun violence in the state. Others, including Moffat County's sheriff, Routt County law enforcement, and others, worry the bill does not adequately address the issue and may encroach on people's rights.
Last year, state Senate Republicans rejected a similar bill. Results could be different this time around, now that Democrats have majorities in both chambers and have the support of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who said in November that he wanted a red flag law passed.
In an interview with the Craig Press last week, Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume said he wants to address mental health concerns in Moffat County, but not at the expense of Second Amendment rights.
"I am certainly supportive of attempting to address mental health issues across our community and in our county," Hume said. "I don’t believe HB 19-1177, as written, addresses those mental health needs while recognizing the importance of our Constitution and the Second Amendment."
Hume called the legislation "wrong in so many ways."
"Public safety and mental health — number one concerns," Hume said. "But how we manage that in relation to our Constitutional rights is important. We have to have balance."
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said he supports the concept and justification of the bill, but has concerns regarding its implementation and efficacy.
Specifically, Wiggins worried it could be difficult for someone to regain his or her firearms if a judge enforces a protection order. As written, the legislation puts the burden of proof on the defendant — the person whose guns have been taken.
"I believe the burden of proof should be totally upon the petitioner or government and not upon the respondent to defend against," Wiggins said in an email.
Moffat County’s resolution prohibits “its employees from enforcing the unconstitutional actions of the state of Colorado government.”
Weld County’s resolution seems to go a bit further. In its resolution, Weld County gives support to its sheriff “in the exercise of his sound discretion to not enforce against any citizen an unconstitutional firearms law” and gives Weld County the choice to “not appropriate funds for capital construction of building space and purchase of storage systems to store weapons seized” under HB19-1177.
Twelve other states and Washington, D.C., have passed similar red flag legislation.
Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Derek Maiolo contributed to this report. Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.