Bill named in honor of Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Zackari Parrish III
(Feb 14) – Today, Rep. Tom Sullivan and Majority Leader Alec Garnett were joined by survivors of gun violence, law enforcement officers and state legislators to unveil new legislation to prevent gun violence and protect first responders.
“This is why I’m here – I’m here to help save lives and to make sure what happened to my family and my son doesn’t happen to others,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “This Extreme Risk Protection Order bill is about saving lives. I wear my son Alex’s jacket every single day I come to the state capitol. Watching your child’s body drop into the ground is as bad as it gets. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that none of you have to do that. I don’t care what party you belong to, I’m going to everything I can until this jacket falls off of me.”
Rep. Sullivan’s son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting on his twenty-seventh birthday.
“When an individual is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see signs that they pose a threat to themselves or others. Extreme Risk Protection Orders can save lives by creating a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies,” said Rep. Garnett, D-Denver. “This bill has some of the strongest due process provisions of any ERPO bill in the country. Coloradans refuse to maintain the status quo and refuse to simply live with the consequences of doing nothing to address the epidemic of gun violence.”
This bill will give law enforcement another tool to help keep our communities safe.Through this bill, family or law enforcement can petition a judge for an Extreme Risk Protection Order for someone who is exhibiting violent or dangerous behavior. If approved, a temporary order would be placed for up to two weeks. After that, family or law enforcement could petition the judge for a full Extreme Risk Protection Order. 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, they could approve the protection order for up to 364 days. During this hearing, respondents will be provided legal counsel at no cost. The respondent can also request to have the order terminated at any point during the 364-day time period.
The bill, which was introduced during the 2018 legislative session and which passed the House, is once again named in honor of Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Zackari Parrish III, who was killed in the line of duty last New Year’s Eve by an individual in the middle of a mental health crisis. Deputy Parrish was just twenty-nine years old.
Law enforcement officials, including Deputy Parrish’s sheriff, Tony Spurlock, and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, spoke in favor of the bill at a press conference today. Pelle’s son Jeff is a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy who was also seriously injured responding to the same call with Deputy Parrish.
Senators Lois Court, D-Denver, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, also spoke at today’s press conference, sharing a statement from Deputy Parrish’s parents Zack and Cris Parrish to remind us all of the need for this life-saving legislation:
“It is incumbent upon us to support the Zack S. Parrish, III Law, a measure which will limit the accessibility that a mentally and/or emotionally ill person would have to obtain such weaponry. This is not about taking gun rights away from anyone; it is about protecting our first responders, families, and the community at large, thus reducing these tragedies in the future,” the Parrish family urged.
Kaylee Tyner, a senior at Columbine High School spoke at the press conference and led a moment of silence in honor of the one year anniversary of the Parkland High School shooting.
Thirteen states have enacted bipartisan ERPO laws (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington). At least 29 other states and Washington, D.C. have considered ERPO laws.
Jane Dougherty of Littleton whose sister Mary Sherlach was killed in the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. And who has been a leader on gun violence prevention efforts here in Colorado and in the capitol also spoke at today’s press conference.
Colorado lost over eleven-hundred people to suicide in 2017. Studies show that access to a gun in a home triples the risk of death by suicide. Indiana’s firearm suicide rate decreased by nearly eight percent in the ten years after their Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation was enacted.
The text of HB19-1177 can be found here. Watch Rep. Sullivan’s remarks here.