One county sheriff disagrees with a gun bill that is making its way through his state’s legislature so much that he chose to openly declare that he would rather go to jail than enforce the law should it pass. The “red flag” bill is highly controversial, and Sheriff Steve Reams says he doesn’t support it.
Reams, the Weld County, Colorado, sheriff, said that not enforcing the bill is “a matter of doing what’s right,” according to a report by CNN.
The “red flag” legislation – which features the “extreme risk protection order” – would allow for the temporary seizure of firearms from individuals who may be deemed a threat to themselves or others. Family members, roommates, and law enforcement officials could petition a judge to have a person’s weapons seized by law enforcement.
On Thursday, the bill passed Colorado’s Senate, only passing by a single vote. The House is expected to pass it as well, potentially this week.
Both chambers have Democratic majorities, and state Republicans essentially have too few votes to prevent the bill from moving forward.
Reams is not alone in disagreeing with the legislation. Over half of the 64 counties in Colorado oppose the bill, and many of those who stand against it have labeled themselves Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties as a form of protest.
If Reams or any other sheriff fails to enforce a court order to seize an individual’s firearms, they could be found in contempt. This could lead to an indefinite fine as well as jail time, moves that are meant to force compliance.
Reams understands the risk and says that it is a sacrifice he feels forced to make.
The legislation is a product of the push for additional gun laws after Zack Parrish, a 29-year-old deputy from Douglas County, was killed by a man with numerous weapons and a history of concerning behavior, including threatening officers.
Sheriff Tony Spurlock, Parrish’s former boss, has been a vocal advocate of the legislation, claiming that such a law could have prevented Parrish’s death.
Alec Garnett, the Democratic House Majority leader and a primary sponsor of the bill, states that he isn’t going to “lose sleep over” sheriffs who may choose not to enforce court orders related to the legislation.
“What I’m going to lose sleep over is, if that’s the choice that they make and someone loses their life, someone in crisis goes on a shooting spree, (or) someone commits suicide” because an individual’s firearms weren’t seized.