Colorado’s Senate Republicans killed a bill Monday night that would have allowed law enforcement officials to ask the courts for permission to seize guns from people who are deemed to pose a “significant risk” to themselves or others.
The move came after the so-called “red flag” bill was approved by the state House, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in voting to approve the legislation.
GOP support at the legislature was almost nonexistent, but a number of high profile Republicans outside the Capitol supported the bill, including GOP gubernatorial candidates Doug Robinson, a businessman, and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell.
Prior to his show on KNUS Saturday, host Craig Silverman reached out to all the Republican gubernatorial candidates to find their position on the red flag proposal.
“Victor Mitchell wrote back, and he said, I favor the bill. Doug Robinson wrote back, I favor the bill,” said Silverman on air (at 9 minutes here).
Silverman didn’t hear from Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the Republican front-runner in the race to be governor, but he came out against the bill at a campaign stop Saturday, saying that “no bill that gets introduced in the last 10 days [of the legislative session] is a good piece of legislation” and that he was concerned that individual “due process” rights were not sufficiently protected.
Stapleton said the bill would be “empowering the court system to decide whom it can take firearms away from, especially if somebody hasn’t had any prior criminal record or court conviction or done anything wrong.”
“You have to look at the practical implications, because if you’re ex-wife has a bone to pick with you, if you get in a dust up with your neighbor about something, and he might think that this is a way to go after you,” said Stapleton. “And so we need to prevent that from happening in the system.”
Proponents of the bill argued that the proposal struck a reasonable balance between the need to stop mentally ill people from shooting people and stable-minded citizens’ rights to have guns.
“This is not about the gun,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, as reported by ColoradoPolitics.com. “This is about the mentally ill person who has a gun. Do you want someone who is so mentally ill that a reasonable person would run in the other direction to have a gun? I hope you will say ‘no.’ We cannot wait any longer to save those who are a danger to themselves and others.”
Senate Republicans on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee killed the bill in a party-line vote.
But all the chamber’s Republican members would vote against it, according to GOP Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, as reported by the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul:
When asked about potential GOP support for the legislation — House Bill 1436 — in the Republican-controlled Senate, Grantham and others brushed off the notion.
“There is no divide in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, told reporters.
One such GOP state senator is Tim Neville of Littleton.
“Are we trying to possibly help people who are in crisis or deal with people?” asked Neville Saturday on KNUS 710-AM’s Wake Up with Randy Corporon show. “Are people the issue? Or is it things that are the issue? Because you carry this forward so far, are we going to go in and start possibly taking away people’s kitchen knives or whatever else they have in their home? This is insane. But, yeah, it’s politicians. Some take a look and they run their campaigns by polls.”
Neville said true leadership is explaining issues to people and taking a stand, if needed, on important issues.
For this reason, he’s angry at fellow Republican George Brauchler, who’s running for Attorney General.
On the radio show, Corporon asked Neville: “I always think that there’s a belief among Republicans that because of changing demographics, because we now know that Colorado is a third Democrat, a third Republican, and a third independent, that they’ve always got to be moderating their messages. Is that a reason we see Republicans buy into stuff like this. Could that possibly be some of the motivation for George Brauchler?”
“Well, of course it is,” Neville responded here at 11:30. “I would say it’s the fear motivator. And you have those who are surrounded by people who say, ‘Quick, look at the polls. Polls show this. Polls show that.”
Brauchler, who’s running for Colorado attorney general, responded on Twitter to Neville’s comment with, “I didn’t hear [Neville] say that about me. You’re trying to turn a disagreement about this specific bill into something more. We must re-elect Neville.”
Neville’s race this November is widely viewed as a key legislative contest. Republicans hold a two-seat majority in the Colorado senate, and Neville’s Littleton district is one of the most competitive in the state.
If Democrats retain the governor’s office, and gain the majority in the state senate, they will control state government.