BOLSTERED ERPO POLICY WILL HELP DE-ESCALATE EMERGENCY SITUATIONS AND SAVE LIVES
DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed into law landmark legislation that will expand and strengthen Colorado’s “Red Flag” law.
SB23-170, sponsored by Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Senator Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and House Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, will expand who is eligible to file for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which will allow more qualified individuals to intervene before gun violence has a chance to occur.
“Red Flag laws are one of the most effective tools we have to prevent gun violence, but unfortunately Colorado’s Red Flag law is tragically underutilized,” Fenberg said. “This new law will strengthen our state’s Red Flag law and increase the number of individuals who can file for an extreme risk protection order, which will create more opportunities for community members to recognize when something is wrong and intervene in a way that will prevent further gun violence and save countless lives across our state.”
“This expansion of Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order will improve one of the best tools we have to help prevent more Coloradans from being a victim of the next gun violence tragedy,” Bacon said. “Now, more qualified individuals will be able to file a petition if they believe someone poses a serious threat to the community. This law brings us one step closer to keeping guns out of the hands of those who would do harm to themselves or others.”
“Our Red Flag law has already saved lives in Colorado, and this commonsense law will strengthen it so that it can be even more effective,” Sullivan said. “Expanding and improving our Red Flag law will create more opportunities for qualified individuals to assess the danger and act appropriately to prevent further violence and ultimately save more lives.”
“Since Colorado passed the Red Flag law in 2019, it has been an effective yet underutilized tool to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” Weissman said. “Teachers, licensed mental health professionals, district attorneys, and medical professionals throughout our communities often have insight into the potential dangers that someone poses, making them essential in Colorado’s fight against gun violence. With this bill being signed into law today, we’re improving awareness of this tool and expanding eligibility to file a petition so we can reduce deaths by suicide and protect more Coloradans from the threat of gun violence.”
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.