By: Robert Davis
Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, has approved a first wave of recall petitions in an effort led by Republican and Conservative groups attempting to recall a handful of anti-gun Democrats from office.
“The message that the Democrat Party should receive is that voters trusted them to move at a moderate pace,” Colorado GOP Chairman Ken Buck said during an interview with Marshall Zelinger. “Instead, the Democrats have promoted gun legislation that has frustrated a lot of voters.”
Values First Colorado, a political committee run by Joe Neville, brother of House Minority Leader Pat Neville, said the group is targeting Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) and Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) for their support of the state’s recently passed red flag gun confiscation bill.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock is facing a recall effort because of his public support for the bill as well.
HB 1177, the state’s red flag bill, which Gov. Jared Polis (D just signed into law, would allow a person to petition a court to seize someone’s weapons if they deem them to be a danger to themselves or their community because of their mental health.
A court would then conduct an ex parte hearing, in which those seeking an order against someone provides evidence that a respondent is a clear and present danger to themselves or a community.
The respondent is not made aware of the hearing, but nevertheless bears the burden of proving him or herself innocent. The bill does not require a respondent to enter into mental health treatment.
The bill requires law enforcement departments to search a respondent’s home for weapons if a court has found that they are a danger to themselves or their community. Once the court files the orders, the respondent’s weapons are confiscated for up to 14 days while court proceedings are conducted to determine whether the accused is a danger or not.
“The effort is in place because he turned back on the values that got him elected,” Robert Wareham, a law enforcement veteran, family law attorney, and the registered agent for The Committee to Recall Sheriff Tony Spurlock, told Gunpowder Magazine.
“Spurlock said he supported the constitution, due process, and took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Instead, he’s become the poster child for what is nothing more than a thinly veiled gun confiscation scheme.”
HB 1177 requires a petitioner to sign a sworn affidavit to a court under the penalty to perjury that sets forth the reasonable basis for a protection order.
The bill says that people who file false statements while seeking a protection order may be subject to criminal punishment, but leaves the punishment to the discretion of a judge.
“In my 20 years of practicing family law, I can tell you that these protection orders get abused all of the time,” Wareham said. “I’ve seen cases where people are accused of domestic violence and spend the weekend in jail on trumped-up charges.
And district attorneys typically don’t want to prosecute these false allegations because they don’t want to dissuade people from filing these protection orders.”
Sen. President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo) are also facing recall efforts, though neither of them voted for the red flag bill.
“Anyone who supported the red flag bill should pay a price,” Wareham said. “Garcia could have killed this bill, but instead he tacitly approved it by allowing a vote in his chamber. All he had to do was send it to a kill committee.”
Gov. Polis is also facing recall efforts.
Under state law, petitioners must collect signatures of 25 percent of the total ballots cast for each race. In the case of Gov. Polis, that equates to more than 631,000 signatures.
In 2013, Democratic Senate President John Morse and State Senator Angela Giron were recalled over their support for new gun control legislation.