DENVER — A controversial measure to allow judges to remove firearms from mentally ill gun owners on a temporary basis is on its way to the full Senate.
The so-called red flag bill, HB1177, would allow family members of troubled gun owners or law enforcement to petition a judge to remove any firearms from the person's possession if they can show the owner is a threat to themselves or others.
Currently, 14 other red and blue states have approved similar laws, with three others considering it, too.
Additionally, a bipartisan bill has been introduced into Congress to provide funding to encourage other states to implement similar laws, which are known as extreme risk protection orders.
Under them, petitioners must show that a gun owner has developed mental issues that otherwise would prevent them from purchasing firearms under other laws.
But only a judge could remove their firearms on a temporary basis, and the firearms must be returned when that gun owner can show they are fit to possess a weapon. The proposed measure also requires mental health treatment for the gun owners whose weapons are removed.
According to the San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center, which works to prevent firearm violence, extreme risk orders are based on long-standing domestic violence protection orders that all 50 states already have.
The group said in the states that have the new law, suicide by firearms are down.
"Indiana's firearm seizure law has associated with a 7.5 percent reduction in firearm suicides in the 10 years following its enactment," according to a 2018 study published by the American Psychiatric Association. "Enactment of Connecticut's law was associated with a 1.6 percent reduction in firearm suicide immediately after its passage and a 13.7 percent reduction in firearms suicides in the post Virginia Tech period, when enforcement of the law substantially increased."
The National Rifle Association has opposed all red flag laws and proposed bills, including in Colorado, because they say the laws go too far.
The powerful gun rights group says it only can support such laws if due process rights are honored first showing clear and convincing evidence, so any law or proposal that allows for the taking of guns without a court hearing, as Colorado's bill does, is in violation of due process rights, the group says.
That's the only part of the Colorado bill that doesn't meet the NRA's expectations, its supporters say.
The bill, which cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday on a party-line 6-4 vote, is expected to be debated on the floor of the Senate later this week.
The committee also approved several other measures high on the Democrat's priority list, such as SB3, a measure partly introduced by Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, to create a teacher loan forgiveness program, and SB5, a bill that would create a new program to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.