CONEJOS — Following unanimous approval of a resolution March 7, the Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) joined a number of mostly rural counties in becoming a sanctuary for the Second Amendment.
Drafted by County Attorney Nicolas Sarmiento, and passed unanimously by the BOCC, the resolution outlines the county’s position on preservation of the Second Amendment.
Joining Conejos County in similar resolutions, Washington, Douglas, Dolores, El Paso, Prowers, Park, Teller, Kit Carson, Weld, Moffat, Montezuma, Custer, Kiowa, Fremont and Rio Blanco counties have passed resolutions.
Conejos County Sheriff Garth Crowther said his department would not enforce a law that violates the Second Amendment and Constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. A supporter of the rule of law, he also is concerned about due process.
Fourteen states have enacted so-called “red flag” bills or extreme risk protection orders (ERPO). Colorado’s version empowers family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to place a temporary order on a person who is a threat to his/herself or others without allowing the subject to mount a personal defense. Similar to red flag bills in other states, Colorado’s bill has key differences in how law enforcement would carry out seizing a weapon and how due process rights would be handled for someone whose weapons are taken.
In the metro areas, the proposed “red flag” bill has been supported by a coalition of front-range sheriffs, district attorneys and communities affected by mass shootings.
However, many residents and officials in rural and western Colorado have vowed to fight back against the measure should it become law.
The Conejos County resolution affirmed counties have the authority to adopt and enforce ordinances and resolutions regarding health, safety, and welfare issues; and Colorado Revised Statutes provide the powers of a county as a body politic and corporate shall be exercised by a board of county commissioners.
The BOCC affirms its support for the sheriff in the exercise of his sound discretion and resolved to support his decisions to not enforce any unconstitutional firearms law against any citizen.
In addition, the BOC agencies, contactors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing law that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of people to keep and bear arms.
The commissioners noted that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, protects the inalienable and individual right of the people to keep and bear arms; and the Supreme Court in 2008 affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home; and in 2010 affirmed that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms,” as protected under the Second Amendment, is incorporated by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment against the states.
The BOCC declared its support and defense of the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Colorado and Colorado laws, insofar as they are constitutional. The constitutionality of the “Red Flag” law, however, is in question nationally.
If approved, a judge’s order would require a person believed to pose a threat to others or his/her self to surrender all firearms while the court conducts a hearing to assess grounds for a longer-term seizure.
Under the law, the judge could consider recent credible threats of violence, relevant mental health issues, any history of domestic violence, abuse of controlled substances and evidence of a recent acquisition of a firearm or ammunition to determine if a person is a significant risk.
Within seven days, the court would hold a second hearing on whether to evaluate evidence that could prohibit the person from controlling, possessing or receiving a firearm for 182 days or six months. If requested, a judge could extend the order up to a year.
The state would provide a gun owner with a lawyer for the hearing. The seizure can last for up to 364 days, but can be terminated at any time pending another hearing and petition from the gun owner
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