(May 2) – Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, released the following statement in response to reports of a lawsuit being filed against the life-saving Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, HB19-1177: the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act.
“This bill is about saving lives. We recently lived through a situation in Colorado where someone who was a risk to themselves or others shut down our schools, and it was a critical example of why we need the Extreme Risk Protection Order law in Colorado,” said Majority Leader Garnett. “This is not about what happened during the debate–this is about the gun lobby trying to unwind a popular measure to help save and protect lives in Colorado. Throughout the entire debate, no one approached me about the issue they are raising in their lawsuit. We have been extremely respectful of the rights of the minority party and this bill was respectfully debated in the House.”
Despite claims during the lawsuit announcement that the majority party failed to read the bill at length, the bill was indeed read at length when the motion was properly made until the motion was withdrawn by the requestor, in accordance with the rules of the Legislature. The state legislature debated HB19-1177 for nearly 44 hours according to internal calculations.
Rep. Tom Sullivan is a co-prime sponsor of the bill. His son Alex was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting on his twenty-seventh birthday. Rep. Sullivan wears Alex’s jacket every day and wore it during the course of the debate in the House.
This life-saving new law signed by Gov. Polis on April 12 will provide a critical tool to help prevent gun violence and suicide and protect families and first responders. The legislation has been in the works for over a year and includes input from law enforcement, the mental health community, advocates for gun violence prevention, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
Through HB19-1177, family members or law enforcement can petition a judge for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) for someone who is a significant risk to themselves or others. If approved, a temporary order would be placed for up to two weeks and the court would hold a hearing to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for an ERPO. During this hearing, respondents will be provided with legal counsel at no cost to ensure due process rights are protected. If the judge determines, by a clear and convincing evidence standard, that the respondent poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to themselves or others, the protection order may be approved for 364 days. The respondent can also request to have the order terminated at any point during that time period.
Attorney General Phil Weiser submitted a letter and testified in support of the legislation. Former U.S. Attorney John Walsh explained to the committee during the hearing how the bill is legal under the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Members of law enforcement, gun owners, and survivors of gun violence testified for hours during House and Senate committee hearings in support of the bill. Fourteen states have enacted bipartisan ERPO laws.