WILL THE COLORADO LEGISLATURE PASS A ‘RED FLAG’ BILL IN 2019?
Mental illness and gun control is a highly controversial topic these days, with many people having different opinions on the subject. While some may feel that laws need to be changed to stop the mentally ill from having access to firearms, how to go about that is an issue that has yet to be resolved.
When Colorado’s next legislative session begins on January 4, some legislators are looking to reintroduce a “red flag” bill, that is, legislation that would institute an “extreme risk protection order.” Under this bill, if a person owns a firearm, that person’s family or a police officer could ask a judge to have that person’s firearms confiscated if it can be shown that the person is suffering from a mental illness. Similar legislation passed the Colorado House of Representatives in the last legislative session, but it did not pass out of a Senate committee.
Not all legislators are on board with this type of bill, however. One senator is concerned about the taking of a person’s firearms without prior notice. He questions whether doing so goes against the Constitution. He thinks that the person who owns the firearm deserves to have a hearing with a judge before having his or her weapons confiscated, and if so, that the person should be ordered to undergo mental health treatment.
It is important that a person’s due process rights under the Constitution are upheld. Not every person with a mental illness will commit a crime, necessitating the taking of his or her firearms. It is not fair to say that all mentally ill people who own weapons are a threat to others. While it remains to be seen whether legislation of this type will move forward come January, until then those who have questions about the legality of “red flag” laws will want to discuss their concerns with a criminal defense professional.