DENVER – The “red flag” mental health and gun bill introduced last week in the Colorado legislature died in a Senate committee early this week, but Rep. Mike Coffman is pushing a measure in Congress that would facilitate giving federal grant money to states with such laws.
The Colorado Republican keyed his sights on Colorado’s red flag law before it was introduced last week by Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial – the assistant majority and assistant minority leaders of the House, respectively.
Their bill would have allowed judges to seize guns and ammunition from people deemed to be in the midst of mental health crises. The temporary order would have stayed in place for seven days, during which the person who had their weapons seized could have petitioned, and could be extended.
But after the measure passed the House 37-23, it was killed by a Senate committee in a 3-2 vote, with opposition Republicans saying they were concerned about the due process rights allotted to the person having the weapons taken from them.
The bill Coffman is cosponsoring – H.R. 5717 – could face similar concerns from some Republicans.
The measure would allow states to receive grants for law enforcement training if their red flag law meets certain requirements.
Law enforcement would only be able to seek a court order if the person in question poses an “imminent risk” of harming themselves or others, has gone off their normal mental health medication, or has shown violent or emotionally unstable behavior, according to the measure.
But the measure would allow for a person’s weapons and ammo to be seized without a warrant, but the law enforcement officers seizing the weapons would have to be prepared to file all the court paperwork within 48 hours of the seizure.
Law enforcement would be able to seek a court order if they can show probable cause the
And the state laws would have to require a hearing be held on the seizure within 21 days – an even longer period than the period within the killed Colorado measure.
The bill Coffman is cosponsoring along with 11 others from both sides of the aisle would allow for $50 million in appropriations money to be allotted to the grants for states from 2019-21.
The measure is called the Jake Laird Act, named after an Indiana police officer killed in 2004 by a man who was mentally ill, and the measure is modeled after Indiana’s red flag law, which has been in place since 2005.
Nine states currently have red flag laws, and several others discussed passing such a law this year.
Coffman said the bill addressed due process concerns and was respectful of the 2nd Amendment – two concerns voiced by opponents of such measures being adopted by states. Proponents in Congress say the measure would provide the framework for states that don’t have red flag laws currently.
“Under the Red Flag law, law enforcement will have the tools necessary to step in and remove firearms and defuse a potential tragedy before it happens,” Coffman said in a statement about the measure.
He said he wants Congress to pass the legislation this year and for the Colorado legislature to revisit a red flag measure in the 2019 session. There are several other different red flag bills that have been introduced in Congress as well.