By: Robert Davis
Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) was the perfect candidate to sell the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), otherwise known as the red flag gun confiscation law, to Colorado voters; his son was killed in the Aurora Theatre Shooting in 2012.
Now, the Colorado Secretary of State office has approved a recall petition for the representative.
The effort is being led by Kristi Brown, the vice-chair of Colorado’s Republican Party. Brown told Colorado Politics she wants Sullivan out of office because he and his Democratic cohorts “shut down the voice of parents in Colorado.
“The people in Colorado, and parents in particular, deserve to be listened to,” Brown said.
What the Law Does
Colorado’s red flag law allows 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 law also requires law enforcement departments to search a respondent’s home for weapons if a court finds he or she is 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.
During the 2019 legislative session, Sullivan proclaimed on the floor of the House that people on the other side of the aisle “don’t know how to talk to a father whose son was murdered.”
Republicans openly attempted to debate with Democrats about the red flag bill they were pushing, but because they lacked the representation in the legislature, they had to resort to other methods to have their voice heard.
Republicans made use of a parliamentary rule that requires a bill to be read at length once a lawmaker requests it. Republicans requested the 2019 budget be read in full just days before the House was scheduled to debate the red flag bill.
Democrats resorted to using six computers to read the bill at 650 words per-minute, a speed that is unintelligible to human ears. Colorado Republicans took the Democrats to court over the matter. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled the Democrats’ actions were unconstitutional.
The Colorado Republican Party isn’t the only political organization working to unseat Sullivan.
Kristi Brown, with the support of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, will be running against Sullivan in 2020.
"I welcome any group that wants to jump in on it," Brown said. "A lot of Colorado parents in my district are upset with Rep. Sullivan and the way he voted."
Petitioners have to collect more than 10,000 signatures by July 31 for a recall election to be held.
“Sullivan should be ousted for ignoring the will of his constituents,” Brown told Colorado Politics.
So far, Sullivan’s campaign has raised just under $8,000 for his 2020 bid.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com.