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Red flag law policy released to law enforcement, lawsuit still pending

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The controversial red flag law will go into effect across Colorado in less than 30 days, and the lawsuit to dismantle it hasn't received a court date.

The law allows law enforcement or a concerned family member to request an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) for a person going through a mental crisis or who may harm themselves or others.

A model policy for law enforcement agencies to review was released by Colorado Peace office Standards and Training (POST) on Wednesday, but it does not require all agencies to follow this policy. They may come up with their own.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis in April, but soon after, it was challenged with a lawsuit headed up by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a non-profit gun rights advocacy group in Colorado.

The lawsuit claims House Democrats hampered the legislative process when a request by Republicans to read the bill aloud was not fulfilled.

The Attorney General responded with a motion to dismiss the case, but the judge overseeing it has not called a hearing to decide, meaning the law will take effect on January 1, 2020.

What we know:

What's the policy's purpose?

Per the policy released by Colorado POST, the purpose of its guidance reads: " To provide direction and guidelines for the proper handling and storage of firearms that are surrendered, or seized as a result of an Extreme Risk Protection Order. This policy will also deal with the proper procedure to follow for the return, or disposal of firearms after resolution of the ERPO has been achieved."

What does it do?

Starting January 1st, the Red Flag law will allow a family member or law enforcement officer to request an ERPO on behalf of someone who they believe is suffering a mental crisis, and own firearms, suggesting they could be a danger to others or themselves.

The order will be presented to a judge, but the party accused of having a mental crisis does not need to be present for the ERPO to be granted.

According to the policy, if the ERPO is granted, there are two ways a law enforcement agency can move forward. The first gives the respondent, or person accused 24 hours to voluntarily surrender their weapons, and their Concealed Carry Permit, if applicable. The second requires law enforcement agencies to serve the ERPO and search warrant issued in court to the respondent, allowing officers to take all firearms in the house, not including any ammunition.

Where do the guns go?

Whichever process takes place, officers log what firearms were seized and a receipt is given to the owner.

The person who's guns were taken away has two options on where they can be stored: either with a law enforcement agency or with a federal arms dealer.

If the firearm is an antique, it can be transferred to a family member who passes a background check.

What we don't know:

The policy released by the Attorney General's office does describe what an officer should do shall the respondent refuse to hand over their firearms.

When an ERPO is terminated, a law enforcement agency or federal firearms dealer holding the guns has three days to return them back to their own, but we don't know what happens if it surpasses the three-day limit.

Before and after the law was passed, several counties in Colorado announced their distaste for its policy, some calling themselves 2nd Amendment "Sanctuaries" or "Preservation Counties," but we don't know how those stances will affect the law going into effect.

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Krystal Story


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