Political Battle Lines Drawn Over Gun Rights!

Teller County Commissioners Back Pro-Second Amendment Resolution

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

The hot topic of gun rights has hit center stage again in the Pikes Peak region and across the state.

Several key elected leaders, including the sheriffs of both Teller and El Paso counties, have expressed big concerns over a state bill that would authorize the confiscation of guns of individuals whom family members and friends and law officers believe are mentally unstable. With this determination, it may take a person a long time too to regain their weapons.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said he plans to sue, if the red-flag bill, known as the “Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” goes into effect. Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell also has expressed big concerns about this proposed law, as written, that would allow a judge to order the confiscation of firearms from a person found to be in danger of themselves or others. 

And last week, the Teller County Commissioners entered the fight by approving a pro-Second Amendment resolution. In this measure, the commissioners indicated they fully support “the Second Amendment rights of all Teller County citizens and will endeavor to protect the inalienable and individual rights to keep and bear arms in Teller County.”

The measure stopped short, though, of declaring Teller a “Second Amendment preservation county,” meaning that if the proposed red-flag bill, HB1177 becomes a law, it may not be enforced locally.  Already, four counties, Weld, Montezuma, Fremont and Custer, have become Second Amendment preservation areas.

El Paso County could become the fifth if the commissioners pass a resolution this week.

Elder has been quite vocal in criticizing this legislation and has suggested that it will end up in court if approved.

The bill would allow a family or household member or law enforcement representative to petition a court for a temporary “extreme risk protection order” if they can demonstrate that a person poses a significant risk to themselves or others by possessing a firearm. Under certain scenarios, and if a judge gives the okay, weapons could be withheld from these at-risk individuals for up to 364 days.

HB19-1177passed the state House early last week by a vote of 38-25 with only Democrats supporting the measure. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee in the State Senate.

Supporters of the bill include Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s office incurred a huge tragedy when they lost Deputy Zackari Parrish on New Year’s Eve 2017. He was shot and killed by a mentally ill veteran named Matthew Riehl. Riehl’s mental health concerns were known to his relatives, doctors, and law enforcement prior to the shooting and

Sheriff Spurlock has maintained that a red flag law, sometimes called a gun restraining order, could have prevented the violence.

Already, this legislative fight is getting intense and conjuring up memories of when gun restrictions were passed in Colorado nearly a decade ago. Local law enforcement officials, including former Teller sheriff Mike Ensminger, were on the forefront in fighting these restrictions.

That was done when the Democrats gained control of most legislative bodies of the state government. However, those restrictions somewhat backfired, according to political insiders. A key Democratic state Senate leader from the Pikes Peak region ended up getting recalled mainly because of his stand on this issue.