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March 26, 2023

Houses Advances Bill to Expand ‘Red Flag’ Law

DENVER, CO - The House today advanced a commonsense gun violence prevention bill in a preliminary vote to strengthen Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law.

We’re expanding Colorado’s ‘red flag’ law to allow district attorneys, mental health professionals and educators to file a petition to remove a firearm from someone who is a danger to themself or others,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “This law is a successful tool that has saved lives, but Coloradans need to know how to use it and have better access to the red flag process. This legislation will increase awareness of the law and create additional avenues for qualified individuals to seek a court action to remove a firearm from a dangerous person, which will save lives, reduce gun violence, and help keep our communities safe.” 

“Colorado’s ‘red flag’ law is working; from 2020 to 2022, law enforcement, close family members, and housemates filed 380 red flag petitions, saving countless lives and avoiding tragedies,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “It’s clear that professionals who understand the legal system are more successful at filing red flag petitions. That’s why this bill creates an education campaign to help people understand how to file a petition. We know we can save more lives and improve public safety by expanding our red flag law, and that’s exactly what this bill does.”

Originally passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Polis in 2019, the Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act is a tool used to temporarily remove firearms from a person who a judge determines is a threat to themselves or others. Currently, a petition for removal can only be filed by a family member or a law enforcement officer. SB23-170 will expand the list of individuals eligible to file an ERPO to include district attorneys and other law enforcement officials, licensed health care providers, mental health professionals, and educators.

According to the Associated Press, Colorado has one of the lowest use rates of its ‘red flag’ law. Colorado issued only 3.3 protection orders per 100,000 adult residents through 2021, ranking the sixth lowest among 19 states that have red flag laws. In comparison, Florida issues 33.6 protection orders per 100,000 adult residents. Researchers have found that for every 10 to 20 protection orders, one suicide might be averted. With SB23-170 expanding eligible individuals that can file a petition for removal, more lives can be saved by gun violence. Nearly 360 red flag petitions were filed from 2020 to 2022.

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