Craig now a Second Amendment sanctuary city after special council meeting Monday |

Craig now a Second Amendment sanctuary city after special council meeting Monday

Craig Mayor John Ponikvar sorts papers moments after the Craig City Council passed a resolution declaring Craig a Second Amendment sanctuary city on Monday, March 11.
Clay Thorp/staff

Following the lead of commissioners in Moffat County, the Craig City Council on Monday, March 11, declared Craig a “sanctuary city” for the purposes of protecting Second Amendment rights.

The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners passed a similar resolution March 5, but the city’s Monday resolution might make Craig the first city in the state to pass such a measure.

Moments after Monday’s meeting began, Mayor John Ponikvar announced the council would be postponing much of its published agenda for Monday’s special meeting and would instead consider a sanctuary city resolution.

The resolution was in response to a proposed bill currently under consideration by the Colorado State Legislature in Denver. HB 19-1177, would allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to take away a resident’s firearms for up to 14 days if that person is determined by a judge to be a threat to themselves or others.

A judge could also issue a search warrant and seize firearms under HB 19-1177, which many refer to as a “red flag” bill.

The bill’s sponsors say the legislation would help reduce incidents of suicide and other gun violence in Colorado.

“You don’t even have to be present in the courtroom for them to take away your guns,” said Councilman Tony Bohrer, of Colorado’s proposed red flag law.

According to a copy of the city’s resolution, obtained Monday by the Craig Press, the city deems Colorado’s red flag law to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second and Fourth Amendments and says the city will exercise its local legislative authority to become a sanctuary city.

The resolution directs the Moffat County Sheriff to “desist the enforcement of the red flag law within Moffat County, including the city of Craig” and directs Craig’s police chief to work with county officials to “maintain the Second Amendment sanctuary county status for the benefit of all citizens within the city of Craig.”

Craig’s Police Chief Jerry DeLong pointed out the law makes little or no mention of mental health despite its targeting of Coloradans with mental health problems.

“My biggest concern is when you read that red flag law, mental health isn’t a big part of that,” DeLong said, adding he doesn’t support the law’s passage.

Councilman Chris Nichols agreed with Craig’s police chief.

“It does nothing to address the real issue of mental health,” Nichols said.

Craig resident Dave Wallace spoke in support of the city’s sanctuary city resolution, but wondered aloud if the city might suffer Denver’s wrath.

“I’m in favor of the sanctuary agreement against the red flag law, as well, but I hope we don’t see any consequences for doing that,” Wallace said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the state level, there may be some consequences,” Wallace added later.

Craig’s city attorney, who was the subject of an agenda item to renew his contract — one of the items that was postponed from Monday’s agenda — seemed apprehensive about the resolution.

“I wasn’t sure this was going to be on the agenda today, mayor,” Romney said, later adding the resolution had been hurriedly drafted Monday morning, and few had seen it before the meeting.

Ponikvar and the council moved quickly to pass the resolution, despite Romney’s reservations.

Colorado’s red flag bill passed two Colorado House committees and has moved on to the Senate’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee, where a hearing will be held Friday, March 15.

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or

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