Colorado Sheriff says He Would Rather go to Jail than Enforce New Gun Control Law
On March 28, the Colorado state Senate passed the highly controversial “red flag” gun control bill that would give law enforcement the ability to seize firearms from individuals who are accused of being a threat to themselves or others by anyone. The bill is now headed to the House, where it is expected to pass without much struggle. Once the bill passes the Colorado state House, it will likely be signed into law by the state’s Democratic, pro-gun-control governor, Jared Polis.
One Colorado sheriff, however, has already gone on the record saying that he will not support this legislation even if it is signed into law – and even if it means that he is put in jail for refusing to fulfill his duties.
When asked by a CNN reporter if he would rather go to jail than enforce this new law, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams responded by saying, “Well obviously no sheriff wants to be confined in their own jail, but if that’s what it takes to get this bill ironed out, then I guess that’s a sacrifice I’ll be forced to make.”
Reams later clarified his position further in a telephone interview with The Tribune, saying, “The worst way to bring attention to it is for me to be put in that position [thrown in jail], but I’ll do that before I’ll violate somebody’s constitutional rights. We’re working hard to try to figure out a mechanism to get this into the courts before anybody is harmed by it. Unfortunately, someone has to be damaged by it first. It comes down to whether I want to take this to court for violating somebody’s rights or for me refusing to enforce a court order.”
Fortunately, Sheriff Reams isn’t the only one intending to challenge this legislation should it be signed into law. Thus far, a total of 32 counties in Colorado have declared themselves to be “Second Amendment sanctuaries”, vowing that no county resources or money would be used to enforce the unconstitutional “red flag” law.
These counties have also promised to support their sheriffs should those sheriffs come under fire for refusing to enforce the law. Interestingly enough, though, some sheriffs in these “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties actually support the legislation, meaning that they may have to contend with a county that does not support them as they go about enforcing a law that they are legally obligated to support.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock – a supporter of the “red flag” law who is serving in a Second Amendment sanctuary county said, “Why would you tell a law enforcement officer they could not enforce the law? Because you didn’t like it? That’s craziness.”
If Colorado succeeds in passing the bill and signing it into law, they will become the fifteenth state to enact some form of “red flag” law. Supporters of these “red flag” laws argue that they will empower law enforcement, family members, and teachers to take action when they notice someone who may present a threat to themselves and others and remove their firearms from them until it can be determined that they are not a threat.
Supporters of the Second Amendment, however, argue that “red flag” laws are both dangerous and unconstitutional. They enable law enforcement to strip away a person’s Second Amendment rights without due process, many times based only on the accusations of other citizens. This incredibly low burden of proof is what makes Sheriff Reams and many other gun rights supporters so wary of the law. When so little proof is required to strip away a person’s Second Amendment rights, the state is given the ability to essentially confiscate firearms at will.
Many counties and legal groups in Colorado are already planning to challenge the law in court, though, and there appears to be enough opposition to it that the “red flag” law may never end up being enforced in Colorado. However, Sheriff Reams has remained steadfast, saying that he will not support the law no matter what happens in the courts and no matter what threats are brought against him.
“I’ve explained that time and time again,” Reams said. “I’m not bluffing.”