Search Results for: sheriffs

AG Weiser: Sheriffs Will Enforce “Red Flag” Or Let People Die

Attorney General Phil Weiser (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry:

State Attorney General Phil Weiser told gun control advocates Tuesday that despite some sheriffs threatening not to enforce the state’s new “red flag” law, he believes they will rethink that decision when faced with the realities of an armed and potentially dangerous person.

“It won’t be an abstraction,” Weiser said, during a panel of lawmakers hosted by Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence. “It’s ‘my daughter Susie is thinking about taking her life, and she has procured weapons, can we do something my sheriff?’ And at that point, it’s not rhetoric, it’s human life.”

…Some sheriffs have said they will not enforce it and a number of county commissions have passed resolutions to prevent local law enforcement from carrying out ERPOs.

“Almost all those ordinances say the following, ‘we don’t want our sheriff in our county to implement an unconstitutional gun law’ to which I have always said in those counties, ‘I don’t either,’” Weiser said. “And the extreme risk protection law is constitutional and will be upheld.”

It’s a point we’ve made previously about the state’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, even as county sheriffs in many cases hand-picked by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) defiantly promise to never enforce the new law within their jurisdictions. What is going to happen when the first family member of a suicidal person seeks help from their county sheriff under the ERPO law and is rebuffed because the sheriff refuses to enforce the law?

No one would ever wish for a tragedy take place in order to prove a political point, but once there are demonstrable cases of lives being lost due to a sheriff’s refusal to enforce state law, something akin to legal hell is going to break loose. A sheriff who has arbitrarily decided not to enforce this law, with the result of a person who could have been saved dying, must reckon with the legal and moral aftermath of that decision–and it won’t be nearly as easy to bluster on about the Second Amendment to the families of the dead.

This is part of the reason why, even though he staunchly opposed the new “red flag” law in Colorado, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder condemned the idea that “a Sheriff, a Chief of Police, a Mayor, or ANY elected person [can] decide if a law is ‘constitutional’ or not.”

For his part, AG Weiser yesterday threatened county sheriffs who refuse to enforce a lawful ERPO from a judge with contempt of court proceedings, and vowed to defend judges against sheriff’s appeals. Beyond that, if it can be proven that a sheriff was “willful and wanton” in their refusal to enforce the law, demonstrating a “conscious disregard for the safety of others,” they could face personal liability for the outcome despite the state’s public employee immunity law.

For now, it’s a hypothetical discussion.

Very soon, unfortunately, it will not be hypothetical. And the wild rhetoric against this law will not age well.

The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

Colorado Sheriffs Debunk “Sanctuary” Fakery

An open letter this week from the County Sheriffs of Colorado attempts to clarify the role and legal responsibility of law enforcement with regard to detaining undocumented immigrants for eventual transfer to federal immigration authorities. Our generally conservative elected county sheriffs in Colorado are clearly taking heat from constituents energized by the President Donald Trump, and want out of the low-information line of fire:

Recently, there has been increased interest in the topic of how local governments work with federal immigration authorities. As Colorado Sheriffs, we’ve received inquiries on how our jails cooperate with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE.) Some have claimed that Colorado Sheriffs offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants in their custody. Let us clear the air.

Sheriffs hold the rule of law as sacred. We are elected with the authority to enforce the laws of Colorado and to protect the rights guaranteed in the federal and state Constitutions.

Our jails serve two distinct purposes. One is a judicial function, the other is a detention function. Under our judicial function, we hold persons accused of a crime awaiting trial, if a court has not authorized their release. This includes persons taken into custody on warrants issued by a judge or persons arrested by a peace officer under a probable cause arrest. If the court authorizes the arrestee’s release, we must release them…

Outside of legally recognized exigent circumstances, we cannot hold persons in jail at the request of a local police officer or a federal agent. To do so, would violate the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. While Colorado Sheriffs do not have the authority to enforce federal laws, we do work cooperatively with a large variety of federal law enforcement agencies. At times, we participate in federal task forces and other times, we share information on potential federal crimes with those federal law enforcement agencies. This includes sharing information on all arrestees in our jails with the FBI and ICE. This gives them the opportunity to determine which arrestees might also be wanted by federal authorities or who might be in violation of our federal immigration laws.

If federal authorities present us with a warrant or other detainer, signed by a judge or a magistrate, we hold those persons for federal authorities to pick up. However, the courts have ruled that we have no authority to hold arrestees on administrative holds that have not been reviewed and approved by federal judges or magistrates.

Sheriffs have informed ICE that in order to comply with the 4th Amendment, we must get judicially approved holds or warrants. However, at this time, ICE chooses not to do this.

Recently, some have chosen to accuse Sheriffs of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants, simply because we are complying with the Constitution, as determined by federal courts. This is an absolutely unsubstantiated and ridiculous claim. [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t put any bets on the Peter Boyles talk-radio crowd laying off the sheriffs and local governments who they regularly accuse of everything up to and including treason for not keeping undocumented immigrants locked up, but this letter is useful to prove to anyone not already on the fringe of the issue that our local law enforcers are enforcing immigration law to the full extent that it is practicable to do so.

So, you know, enough with the conspiracy theories and stupid bills.

So Long, Sheriffs: Gun Lobby Lawsuit Loses More Steam


Colorado county sheriffs pose for an NRA photo shoot last spring.

An important development last Wednesday in the ongoing legal action by the gun lobby against gun safety legislation passed in Colorado this year, as reported by the Associated Press' Ivan Moreno. Don't let this slip down the Thanksgiving weekend memory hole:

Sheriffs in most of Colorado’s 64 counties filed the lawsuit in May, saying the new regulations violate the Second Amendment. The sheriffs are elected and represent rural, gun-friendly parts of the state.

In her ruling, Krieger said sheriffs still can choose to join the lawsuit in an individual capacity, and they’ll have 14 days to make that decision. But they cannot, as a group, sue the state in their official capacities.

“If individual sheriffs wish to protect individual rights or interests they may do so … however, the sheriffs have confused their individual rights and interests with those of the county sheriff’s office,” Krieger said.

We'll be the first to admit that rounding up a majority of Colorado county sheriffs–generally conservative elected officials who have been boosted for years by pro-gun groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners–to publicly front the opposition to these new gun safety bills was a brilliant public relations move. In Colorado, the huge difference between elected conservative county sheriffs who opposed the new laws for political reasons and appointed police chiefs who generally supported them for practical reasons was lost on the public. Furthermore, some of these county sheriffs, like Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, are in fact distantly on the fringe of the gun safety debate, standing in opposition to all background checks for gun purchases. It's always been our opinion that if the voting public understood the positions held by many of these elected sheriffs, those badges wouldn't count for nearly as much.

And as the Denver Post's Ryan Parker reported on this same ruling, another major component of the fear-based messaging against this year's gun safety bills has been invalidated–again.

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Suthers Wants To Shut Down The Sheriffs

nramagsheriffs

As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

The 55 Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit against the state over two new gun-control laws don’t have standing to sue, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said…

“I know the sheriffs are asserting that they have the ability to assert the citizens’ Second Amendment rights, but they haven’t historically asserted other constitutional rights,” Suthers told The Daily Sentinel. “The sheriffs don’t file suits to protect your Fourth Amendment rights, your Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights.” [Pols emphasis]

Still, removing the sheriffs won’t stop the suit from going forward, Suthers said.

“There’s plenty of other (plaintiffs), such as the gun shops, that clearly have standing,” he said.

The lawsuit against the two central pieces of gun safety legislation passed this year, House Bills 1224 and 1229 limiting magazine capacity and requiring background checks for most transfers of firearms, has been publicly fronted by Colorado county sheriffs ever since it was filed. Prior to that, the same county sheriffs very publicly opposed the bills during their debate in the legislature. The Independence Institute, whose research director Dave Kopel is the lead attorney in the lawsuit, has employed the sheriffs and the lawsuit as a fundraising vehicle, presumably with great success. At least one county sheriff, John Cooke of Weld County, has already used this campaign as a springboard to a run for a state senate seat.

An "agreement" a few weeks ago on the enforcement of House Bill 1224's magazine limits, essentially the same terms originally defined by Attorney General John Suthers after the legislation passed, has more or less reduced the scope of the suit to simple Second Amendment constitutionality. Colorado is not the first state to have passed either a magazine capacity limit or universal background checks, and legal experts we've talked to say the chances of this case even being heard by a high court are not all that great. That means the political (see: recalls) and PR value of the suit (see: magazine cover above) is, and always was, its principal reason for existence.

We can't imagine the sheriffs will be pleased if fellow Republican Suthers cuts them out of the action.

Hello, the sheriffs were actually standing with a gun criminal

(Like we said – promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Greeley’s KFKA radio June 7, gun activist Laura Carno asked:

Does [Senate President John Morse] stand by the Colorado Senate Democrats’ tweet that sheriffs, including the Democrats, are standing with criminals for challenging these gun control measures in court?

Host Amy Oliver, who doubles as a staffer for the Independence Institute and is promoted by KFKA as "conservative, intelligent, and sexy," jumped in (@22:30):

We’ve talked about that. They tweeted out, “Sheriffs stand for criminals and against law-abiding citizens.”

Oliver neglected to mention that, in reality, CO Senate Democrats tweeted that pro-gun sheriffs stood “with criminals” because a man who shot a gun at his wife was actually standing (physically with both feet planted) on stage with the Sheriffs, when they announced their lawsuit aiming to overturn new laws banning on magazines holding more than 15 rounds and requiring background checks for most gun purchases and transfers.

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Here Come The Sheriffs

UPDATE: A photo forwarded to us from today's press conference announcing the lawsuit against Colorado's new gun safety bills, Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute on the right:

Kopel_webster_051713

See the man in the black shirt on the left? That's Clint Webster, a 2010 GOP candidate for House District 24.

What's so special about Clint Webster, you ask? We reported on Mr. Webster as part of a 2010 release of the criminal records of a number of legislative candidates, mostly Republican:

Webster was arrested in 1987 for disturbing the peace, and in 1991 for assault. Webster pleaded guilty to felony assault and menacing. The arrest report obtained from the Jefferson County Sheriff shows that Webster was apprehended after firing two shots from a semi-automatic pistol at his ex-wife. [Pols emphasis] When asked by arresting officers what his intention was when he fired, Webster stated something along the lines that he had warned his wife to stop bothering him and had even threatened to kill her, yet she ‘showed up at his home anyway.’

The Denver Post's editorial board had this to say about Webster's 2010 bid:

Many of the infractions are examples of poor judgment that occurred during candidates' younger years. But some ought to take them out of the running. Take Republican Clint Webster of Lakewood, who is running against Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, for the House District 24 seat…

Though that charge was dismissed, a more troubling incident arose in 1991. Webster was arrested after threatening to kill his ex-wife and firing two shots at her and another person from a pistol as they drove away from his house.

Here's a video report from FOX 31's Eli Stokols on Webster's 2010 bid:

"I said I was going to shoot, not kill."

Now, what do you suppose Clint Webster, of all people, was doing at this press conference today?

We can't shake the sense of amazement: these same county sheriffs stood before the Colorado legislature this year and testified against Senate Bill 197, a bill to protect victims of domestic violence from partners with guns. Today, they're standing with one of the worst Republican mistakes of the 2010 election season, a man whose biggest claim to fame is having fired shots at his wife?

Hubris, folks. There's no other word to describe it. Original post follows.

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National gun activist Pratt calls on Colorado sheriffs to arrest federal officials if necessary

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, praised Weld County Sheriff John Cook recently for taking a "very strong stand on what he thinks the limits of the Federal government are."

Speaking to Greeley talk show host Scooter McGee, Pratt said some sheriffs around the country are ready to arrest federal officials if, in the sheriffs' views, they are violating the U.S. Constitution.

PRATT Well, I’m very encouraged by the number of sheriffs that–it’s at least pushing 400 now, that have said– there’s a spectrum. At a minimum, they’re saying they’re not going to cooperate with any unconstitutional gun grabs that the federal government might participate in. And at the other end of the spectrum, sheriffs are saying, “Not only will I not cooperate, but if the Feds are doing something unconstitutional in my county, particularly a gun grab, I’ll put them in jail.” But they’re also addressing other issues where the Feds act unconstitutionally and threaten to incarcerate citizens of their county, the sheriffs are interposing themselves and saying, “If you try to do that, you don’t have authority, and you’re not going to do that in my county, and if you try it, I will arrest you.” This has happened in confrontations with the Forest Service, BLM, the Food and Drug Administration, and of course, the ATF – the gun police.

In a column in the Cortez Journal Monday, Montezuma Country Sheriff Dennis Spruell echoed Pratt's comments, writing that if sheriffs "think a state or federal law contradicts the Constitution, they are under no obligation to enforce it."

It wasn't clear if Pratt thought Cooke would actually arrest federal officials, or if Spruell would arrest them, if necessary to enforce their views of the U.S. Constitution, so I called Cooke and Spruell to find out. 

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Elected County Sheriffs and High-Stakes Politics Mix Poorly

We talked today about the last-minute desperation on the part of Republicans and their gun-advocate allies to kill some or all of a package of five gun safety bills that won initial passage in the Colorado Senate on Friday. A key tactic employed by Republicans and allies in this debate has been to flood the field with as any dire allegations about what these bills would do as possible, regardless of factuality. The goal being to keep the outrage bubbling harder than can be debunked–assuming the press even has the time or willingness, which they often don't.

As you know, county sheriffs in Colorado are elected officials–in a very many cases in this state, Republican elected officials who are eager for political advancement. This has made them a fast ally of the gun lobby and Republicans tryint to kill these bills, in marked contrast, for example, to appointed urban police chiefs much more inclined to support them. There are other factors in that divide, but this is the principal one.

This weekend, politicized, elected law enforcement converged with the aforementioned political desperation to kill this package of gun safety bills, and the general atmosphere of truthlessness cultivated by gun advocates.

And the results were not pretty. KRDO-TV Colorado Springs:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa dropped a bombshell over the weekend claiming Colorado Senate Democrats are threatening sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs oppose gun control legislation. But big questions remain about who the threats came from.

Maketa made the allegations Saturday morning on the Jeff Crank Radio Show on KVOR. He said he got an email from a member of the County Sheriffs of Colorado describing a verbal conversation that person had with someone connected to Senate democrats.

"Basically in that email, it said the Senate majority leadership, the Dems, are very upset with your opposition and testimony on the gun bills and they are stating we should reconsider our positions to gain a more favorable light for salary support from the Dems," Maketa said.

In a nutshell: that Senate democrats are delaying a measure to raise sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs are speaking out against gun control…

In a talk-radio setting, something like this coming from a sworn law enforcement officer is going to sound absolutely horrible. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa's allegation, which he represents as fact even as he throws in that it's second hand information, is pretty nasty. We, and we don't think anybody who reads this blog in either party would condone a quid pro quo arrangement of silence for pay raises, even on an issue we support. That said, things like this probably do happen, and the picture can easily form in the public's imagination.

The only problem? There's no proof of any of it.

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County Sheriffs Throw Highly Embarrassing Gun Nut Tantrum

weldnugentAP reports via the Durango Herald:

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith backed off his hard-line stance against gun-law enforcement Thursday after he said he would refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws, including gun laws. He warned universal gun registration would lead the government to “target and prosecute law-abiding Americans who are simply exercising their constitutionally recognized right to keep and bear arms.”

According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Smith said later his comments were misunderstood and that he was not trying to determine which new gun laws might be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Sheriff John Cooke in neighboring Weld County voiced vehement opposition to President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan to address gun laws. Cooke said he would refuse to enforce any part of it. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m not going to help him in any way. I’m not going to enforce it because it’s unenforceable, and because I don’t have the resources. The federal government doesn’t have the resources,” Cooke told the Greeley Tribune.

On the one hand, what we have here is pretty simple: a relatively few staunchly partisan Republican low-level officeholders who have found a national political debate they can glom on to in their official capacity. There’s little doubt that these public statements from a few county sheriffs are being coordinated by the very well-funded and organized ideological opponents of gun control, every bit as certainly as mayors around the country are organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. This in itself is not unusual.

But when you get past that, and realize that these are law enforcement officers in their official capacity arbitrarily declaring what laws they will enforce, you realize that it is actually kind of a problem.

As the AP report continues, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke has settled on his very own highly laissez-faire interpretation of the Second Amendment, whereby everything, blanket statement, President Barack Obama proposed this week to reduce gun violence is unconstitutional. Especially, says Cooke, Obama’s proposal for universal background checks, which would be “a step” toward possibleВ “mandatory gun registration.”

Notwithstanding the fact that universal background checks are not tantamount to universal registration, and even though nobody’s proposing such a law in Colorado, gun registration laws were considered constitutional in the recent Supreme Court of D.C. vs. Heller that outlawed outright bans on guns–and federal courts since Heller have upheld the constitutionality of gun registration laws. In short, registration is not confiscation, and this is doubly silly because no one is even proposing registration. It is an incorrect interpretation of the law, that requires a descent into “slippery slope” irrationality to even get off the ground. To characterize this as irresponsible behavior for any public official can fairly be called an understatement.

And what will Sheriff Cooke do if the state of Colorado, not the evil Obama administration, is the first entity that enacts universal background checks–as seems increasingly likely?

On a more fundamental level, what are we to say about law enforcement officers who arbitrarily declare, based on lowbrow and faulty interpretations of the law, that they won’t enforce the law? What are we to say about law enforcement officers who decide a law is “unenforceable,” based on the stunning insight that people can still break it? As if that wasn’t true of basically every law?

It seems to us these gentlemen might be better suited to a job that does not involve enforcing the law at all.

Sheriffs For Treason

(Wow – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eight sheriffs from Colorado (one in eight of them) attended the the first convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in Las Vegas, which was sponsored by organizations including the John Birch Society.  The group basically argues that county sheriffs have a right and duty to take up arms against the United States government because they claim that the federal government doesn’t have the authority that it has exercised in fact, with court approval, from the very outset of our Republic.

Among those in attendance from Colorado were Weld County Sheriff John Cook, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell, Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.  

The Colorado delegates, however, disavowed the use of force against federal agents or simply didn’t go there in public comments one way or the other.

The United States Constitution establishes the supremacy of federal law over state law, places the courts in the position of making binding interpretations of the constitution, and defines treason to include taking up arms against the government of the United States.

To be clear, I am not saying that it is treason merely to propose and discuss a political theory under which treason is legitimate, and maybe even a duty of a local official.  Treason is defined on the basis of acts and not words in the United States.  But, to be equally clear, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is an organization of elected and appointed high government officials sworn to uphold the United States Constitution that argues that Sheriffs have a right to engage in acts of treason, and several of the members of this organization have either come extremely close to crossing that line, or have done so.

The organization clamis that: “The sheriff’s position overrides any federal agents or even the arrogant FBI agents who attempt to assume jurisdiction in our cases.”

Elkhart County, Indiana, Sheriff Brad Rogers, Sheriff Tony DeMeo of Nye County, Nevada, and Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County, Wyoming recounted instances in which they threatened to arrest federal government officials for doing their jobs in their counties for reasons consistent with this organization’s ideology.

Today’s front page story in the Denver Post was an important source for this post, but except for one quotation which it quotes itself from the online materials of organization in question, none of the material in this post is quoted from the story.

Sheriffs For Treason

Eight sheriffs from Colorado (one in eight of them) attended the a convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association’s inaugural in Las Vegas sponsored by organizations including the John Birch Society.  The group basically argues that county sheriffs have a right and duty to take up arms against the United States government because they claim that the federal government doesn’t have the authority that it has exercised in fact, with court approval, from the very outset of our Republic.

Among those in attendance from Colorado were Weld County Sheriff John Cook, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell, Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.  

The Colorado delegates, however, disavowed the use of force against federal agents or simply didn’t go there in public comments one way or the other.

The United States Constitution establishes the supremacy of federal law over state law, places the courts in the position of making binding interpretations of the constitution, and defines treason to include taking up arms against the government of the United States.

To be clear, I am not saying that it is treason merely to propose and discuss a political theory under which treason is legitimate, and maybe even a duty of a local official.  Treason is defined on the basis of acts and not words in the United States.  But, to be equally clear, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is an organization of elected and appointed high government officials sworn to uphold the United States Constitution that argues that Sheriffs have a right to engage in acts of treason, and several of the members of this organization have either come extremely close to crossing that line, or have done so.

The organization clamis that: “The sheriff’s position overrides any federal agents or even the arrogant FBI agents who attempt to assume jurisdiction in our cases.”

Elkhart County, Indiana, Sheriff Brad Rogers, Sheriff Tony DeMeo of Nye County, Nevada, and Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County, Wyoming recounted instances in which they threatened to arrest federal government officials for doing their jobs in their counties for reasons consistent with this organization’s ideology.

Today’s front page story in the Denver Post was an important source for this post, but except for one quotation which it quotes itself from the online materials of organization in question, none of the material in this post is quoted from the story.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 21)

Today is National Senior Citizens Day AND National Spumoni Day. Please celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden is now officially the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. Biden accepted the Democratic nomination in an emotional speech on Thursday night from his home base in Wilmington, Delaware. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post hits on a theme that seemed to be picked up everywhere in media coverage of the last night of the Democratic National Convention — Biden’s humanity:

President Trump has tried every dirty trick in the book — and a few new ones — to cast doubts about the workings of Joe Biden’s brain. But Trump has been focusing on entirely the wrong organ. Biden’s appeal is from the heart.

The Democratic presidential nominee, in the most crucial speech of his long career in public service, had no problem clearing the low bar Trump had set. The evening began with a clip of Biden quoting Kierkegaard and ended with him quoting the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

But the power of Biden’s acceptance speech — and the power of his candidacy — was in its basic, honest simplicity. The rhetoric wasn’t soaring. The delivery was workmanlike (he botched an Ella Baker quote in his opening line). But it was warm and decent, a soothing, fireside chat for this pandemic era, as we battle twin crises of disease and economic collapse and we only see each other disembodied in boxes on a screen. Biden spoke not to his political base but to those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

While Biden was preparing to deliver his acceptance speech, President Trump was spouting some ridiculous nonsense at a Pennsylvania rally before being interviewed by Sean Hannity of Fox News. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at some of Trump’s more absurd statements on Fox News.

Elsewhere in Biden news, POLITICO takes an early look at a potential Biden cabinet.

 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and exclaimed that it was “outrageous” that anyone would accuse him of trying to hamper voter turnout this fall. Amber Phillips of The Washington Post breaks down 5 big takeaways from DeJoy’s testimony today.

DeJoy will speak to the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is (sorta) speaking up about the dangers of QAnon candidates in the Republican Party. McCarthy is facing questions about his continued role leading the GOP caucus after some members accused him of not doing enough to stop the candidacy of QAnon lover Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, McCarthy took a stronger stance, as The Hill reports:

“Let me be very clear,” McCarthy told Fox News. “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party. I do not support it and the candidate you talked about has denounced it.”

Greene also came under fire after videos emerged of her making bigoted remarks and questioning whether a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, comments she later walked back.

A number of GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that Greene’s comments and association with QAnon could stain the party’s image and potentially have a negative effect on vulnerable members’ races this year.

McCarthy emphasized Thursday that Greene has distanced herself from the QAnon theory and deserves a chance to prove herself once elected to the deep-red district. [Pols emphasis]

Greene has only pretended to back away from her support for QAnon. Here in Colorado, Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has made half-hearted attempts to “distance” herself from QAnon, only to continue to repeat some of their most-trafficked conspiracy theories.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Thuggery, MAGA Style: Shocking Video Of Teller County Attack

Trigger warning, this video is violence pretty much from beginning to end.

Participant in violent attack in Teller County on Abolish ICE protesters.

This is video shared with us today of an alleged attack in Teller County last Friday on a protest caravan demonstrating against Teller’s controversial policy of providing active assistance to federal immigration authorities. According to the group Abolish ICE Denver in a Facebook post Monday, Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell, another of our state’s high-profile “political sheriffs” increasingly approaching enforcement of the law according to their political agenda, was actually involved with organizing the counterprotest that resulted in the violence in the above video:

This video was cut from a livestream taken during the Abolish ICE car rally to free Pablo, an immigrant man who was taken from his family, imprisoned at the GEO Aurora Ice Processing Center and then illegally transferred to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office county jail without notifying his family or his lawyer…

When [Teller County Sheriff Jason] Mikesell found out about the protest, the County Sheriff’s facebook page released a call for counter protesters to stand against the Abolish ICE protesters. Militia members with guns and confederate flags convened across the town to coordinate an assault on protesters, with multiple images captured of police collaborating.

Officers were seen chatting with counter-protesters SECONDS before the assault took place, and were there to witness the assault, however no arrests were made despite ample video evidence and multiple eye-witnesses calling for the men involved in the violence to be removed. [Pols emphasis]

The assault began with counterprotestor marching over and hitting a female protestor and then throwing her to the ground. Another woman was also hit and as the video shows, more counterprotestors ran up to pull people out of the car and physically engage them (seen in the video). Officers were approached by both women following the assault and shown their bruised faces, but refused to take any actions. All the MAGA counterprotesters were openly armed when they assaulted peaceful protesters.

Abolish ICE Denver says that despite their complaints no charges were initially filed against the attackers, which would obviously make sense if they were there on the suggestion of the county sheriff! And in an update, the Teller County Sheriff confirmed they did indeed put at least an implicit call out for thugs counterprotesters to meet this protest caravan:

On Friday July 17, 2020 the Teller County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) released information to the public concerning a “car rally” protest that would occur at our Detention Facility that day. The protest was apparently organized by a relative of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inmate who is detained at the facility and it was advertised to be against Teller County’s agreement to house ICE inmates.

TCSO learned that the protesters were planning to possibly shut down a public roadway. This could be very dangerous to the innocent motoring public on such a busy weekend-traffic day along US Highway 24. It has been and will continue to be a practice of TCSO to let our community know about such events that may affect their travel plans and safety…

But thanks to the presence of all those pesky smartphones, says the sheriff, they’re reluctantly going to “investigate” these very fine local Teller County people whose names they of course already know. At this point, we’re not even sure the Teller County Sheriff can conduct this investigation fairly:

[A]fter viewing video of the incident from multiple sources including video taken by TCSO, we have opened an investigation into what happened during the incident. If appropriate, criminal charges will be brought to the local district attorney for consideration of prosecution, and if so, arrest warrants will be issued.

Although this violence against left-wing protesters runs counter to the desired narrative for conservatives today of leftist mobs flooding the streets, it obviously deserves every bit as much attention and condemnation. If it doesn’t get as much attention as other acts of political violence in the news headlines today, it’s necessary to ask why. And some possible answers to that question are troubling.

Until we hear differently, in the interest of safety you may want to stay out of Teller County.

Who knows what the wrong bumper sticker or T-shirt might get you.

What The Hell Is Wrong With Douglas County Republicans?

UPDATE: Douglas County Republicans say they’re sorry if you’re offended, otherwise known as the weakest of apologies:

It’s a (very) small win for decency, we guess.

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So are we. Is this the thinking behind the Republican DougCo commissioners firing the health department over a swiss-cheese opt-outable “mask mandate?” We have no reason to think otherwise unless every Republican with a conscience in Douglas County says it’s not. Once again, we’re obliged to check and make sure we’re not looking at Douglas County Georgia’s Facebook page. This is offensive enough to any cross section of the general public that a county Republican Party posting it is a news event–otherwise it would be better ignored and the source dismissed as the irrelevant fringe.

But it’s not the fringe. This is the party in power in Douglas County.

How low can you go, DougCo? Please, don’t answer that.

Colorado’s 15-Round Magazine Limit Upheld

This gentleman’s manhood is now limited to 15 rounds.

On a day of momentous U.S. Supreme Court action, the Colorado Supreme Court lays down the law locally by unanimously upholding the state’s 2013 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity passed in the wake of the Aurora theater and other mass shootings the previous year–9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its ruling Monday morning, ending the seven-year challenge by Loveland-based Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

In 2013, one year after the Aurora Theater Shooting, Colorado’s democratic-controlled legislature passed a number of gun reform bills, including House Bill 13-1224, which banned the sale and transfer of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition. Then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law, which took effect July 1, 2013…

“We hold that HB 1224 is a reasonable exercise of the police power that has neither the purpose nor effect of nullifying the right to bear arms in self-defense encompassed by article II, section 13 of the Colorado Constitution,” the 7-0 ruling concluded.

The challenge to the 2013 magazine limit passed in Colorado cited the gun rights language of the Colorado Constitution, which Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has argued is more restrictive against regulations on guns than the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. At the federal level, Colorado is of course not the only state with a limit on magazine capacity, so the ability of local gun-rights activists to score some kind of judicial coup with our state’s “unique” constitutional language ends here.

Seven years ago the polls still showed strong public support for the laws passed in Colorado including the magazine limit, but the fierce political retaliation engineered and funded by the gun lobby against Colorado Democrats for daring to pass these bills overcame public support in successful recall elections. Since the passage of Colorado’s landmark package of gun safety bills in 2013, the issue has evolved to the point where gun control is a much less politically risky subject for Democrats to take on.

With Colorado’s magazine limit now unanimously upheld in the state’s highest court, the next order of business should be putting a stop to reported widespread flouting of the law by unscrupulous gun dealers encouraged by politically-motivated law enforcement. With this ruling, sheriffs who think they can cherry-pick the laws they choose to enforce and politicians who encourage the public to become lawbreakers should be on notice.

If there are loopholes in the law, close them. And when people break the law, lock them up.

GarCo Sheriff Refuses To Shut Down “Yosemite Samantha”

Lauren Boebert.

We wrote yesterday about the reopening of the Shooters Gill in Rifle by owner and Republican CD-3 congressional challenger Lauren Boebert, vowing “I’m not going to let the government tell me what to do” and resuming her lunch service of chicken tenders with a side of armed wait staff. KJCT-TV Grand Junction reports that Boebert has been served with a restraining order sought by Garfield County Public Health Department authorities in response to news reports, but you can still show up for sit-down service:

After receiving a cease and desist order Tuesday, and then getting a temporary restraining order on Wednesday, Shooters Grill owner Lauren Boebert decided to open up her restaurant again on Thursday morning- this time on the street…

“I’ve been patient, followed all of the proper channels, and provided services in a safe and responsible manner using the same guidelines as neighboring Mesa County restaurants,” says Boebert. “Yesterday, Governor Polis bragged to President Trump about Colorado opening, but the reality is that small business owners like me who don’t have Washington DC lobbyists are getting crushed and being treated like criminals while big box stores are open for business.”

According to Garfield County officials, Boebert continued to operate Tuesday night. She was open again Wednesday night, which is when Boebert was served with a temporary restraining order.

But in a Facebook post today, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, one of the state’s aspiring to tabloid glory politician-sheriffs and an early endorser of Boebert’s primary campaign against incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, made it clear that “Yosemite Samantha” has little to worry about:

I was the first Sheriff she asked for an endorsement of her campaign for Congress and without hesitation I gladly did, knowing I was bucking the mainstream party. As far as I know, I am the only Sheriff pictured in her campaign material. I admire her strength, her tenacity and her courage. She challenged Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and told him that he was not taking her guns! I didn’t do that and neither did any of you. I like her moxie and think we need more of that in Congress. I support her willingness to challenge the illegal and unconstitutional directives we are all facing during this Covid-19 issue. She and I have spoken about the possible consequences and she’s willing to fight for her rights.

But, despite all of that, some have accused me of ignoring my responsibility to the Constitution. So, let me make this clear: I am a firm believer in our system of three co-equal branches of government and due process. These edicts issued by governors and health departments, in my opinion, violate those basic principals of our rule of law and violate our Constitution. [Pols emphasis] Many constitutional lawyers agree, as did the Wisconsin Supreme Court who recently ruled their Governor’s “Safer at home” orders UNLAWFUL!

I will not arrest anyone who violates these health orders, because the rule of law and due process are absent…

Once again, a life-or-death question of enforcing the law comes down to one sheriff’s discretion. And much like the refusal of some Colorado sheriffs to enforce the state’s new “red flag” law, this arbitrary disregard for state law could very well have deadly consequences.

Like we said yesterday, other than the likelihood of spreading pandemic disease among the Shooters Grill’s freedom-loving patrons, this little grandstand is nothing but positive in terms of Boebert’s primary bid to unseat Scott Tipton. Even though the public overwhelmingly condemns these kinds of antics in defiance of public health orders, Republican primary voters are the one segment of the electorate to whom this is heroism instead of rank stupidity. Not even the praise President Donald Trump had for Gov. Jared Polis yesterday will trouble the people Boebert wants to turn out to vote with this stunt, because in the end the “COVID resistance movement” is not about reality. It’s about finding somebody to blame for events that surpass their own comprehension.

So if you’re looking for a little adventure with your tenders, head on over to Lauren Boebert’s “COVID Cafe!” The local sheriff isn’t going to stop you because freedom, and the only people whose lives you’re risking are your own–and everyone you come in contact with. And everyone they come in contact with. And so forth.

Accused Domestic Terrorist Testified Against “Red Flag” Law

Bradley Bunn, alleged “Reopen Colorado” domestic terrorist.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger continues the investigation into Bradley Bunn, a “Reopen Colorado” far-right activist who was arrested with pipe bombs after attempting to organize a failed illegal armed protest at the Colorado state capitol building last Friday. In March of this year, Bunn testified in a legislative committee in favor of legislation that would repeal the state’s new “red flag” law, which creates a legal process to temporarily remove firearms from persons ruled in court to be a threat to themselves or the public.

This latest development is, needless to say, dripping with irony:

The Red Flag law is a controversial statute that allows for the removal of guns from those mentally disturbed if approved by a judge under certain conditions. Bunn’s family members described him as mentally disturbed after returning from Iraq where he said he was injured in combat.

Testifying before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee Bunn said, “I was going to end my life with a Glock 40 caliber to the heart. You only get to experience death once so I wanted to experience all of it to take it to the heart.”

On his Facebook page there is a seal that reads, “When tyranny becomes law rebellion becomes duty.”

It appears that in the course of testifying against the state’s new extreme-risk protection order (ERPO) law, Bradley Bunn became an unwitting testimonial for exactly why such a law is needed–both in terms of protecting the public, as well as those at risk of dying by suicide who this law is equally intended to protect. ERPOs can be requested either by family and household members of a person at risk or by law enforcement, but the standard of evidence of a substantial threat required to obtain an order from a judge is high enough that we don’t think this testimony itself would have risen to the level of justifying one.

But as it turns out, Mr. Bunn was broadcasting his crimes, and desire to commit more crimes, every way he could. Testifying before the legislature he later proposed to storm, as insane as that may sound, doesn’t seem to have been out of character. And we’ll be watching now for more on Bunn’s connections to Colorado’s greater hard-right political activist hordes.

We do hope, of course, that there are not too many more like him out there…

Weld Sheriff: I’d Rather Take My Risk With the Virus Than Socialism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Weld Sheriff Steve Reams and District Attorney Michael Rourke at the Weld County Republican Assembly

Sheriff Steve Reams is the top public safety official in Weld County, Colorado. Yet even after his county declared a pandemic health emergency last week, the coronavirus isn’t his top concern. Reams is worried about socialism. 

I’m going to rant just a bit,” wrote Reams on Facebook. “I understand that nobody wants to catch Coronavirus but statistically, even if you catch it you’re likely to be just fine. What I’m concerned with is our Country catching a huge case of socialism. We (our government) has self imposed an economic crash in the name of saving us from a virus and now they are offering the “solution” through money that isn’t really available; let’s call that debt. If you read the attached article, examine what is being suggested and ask yourselves if this is makes sense. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism.”

When criticized by a commenter, Sheriff Reams reiterated his position:

Reach by phone, Reams acknowledged that the pandemic has created a challenging environment:

“It’s frustrating on both sides, as a citizen and as a law enforcement office to see so many people disregarding the public health warnings and then people asking government to enforce [the public health emergency declarations] to make them feel safer,” Reams told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Asking for the government to be the fix for all this is probably the wrong way of thinking for all of us. It creates a fear of government from citizens who are going to worry, ‘What if I need go somewhere?’ It reeks of police state.”

Despite his discomfort with government enforcement of public health restrictions, however, Reams isn’t willing to go as far as he did with the 2019 “red flag” gun law, when he publicly declared the law unconstitutional and said he would go to jail before enforcing it. Asked if he would do that same now, he answered he doesn’t intent to make public health orders a priority of enforcement.

(more…)

Yes Virginia, Colorado’s “Red Flag” Law Is Working

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Semiautomatic guns for sale.

As the Denver Post’s Elise Schmelzer reports:

In the first 15 days Colorado’s red-flag law has been active, residents and law enforcement have used the controversial statute in five cases to request that guns be removed from a wide range of people: an abusive boyfriend, a suicidal man, the father of a grandchild, a suspect who threatened a mass shooting and a police officer…

The red-flag law, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows family members, household members and law enforcement to request that a judge order the removal of person’s guns if they are a threat to themselves or others. The law caused intense debate in the legislature, including prompting some sheriffs to say they wouldn’t uphold the law because they believe it violates a person’s Second Amendment rights.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on the first successful use of the extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law in Denver, in which a man who made threats to hurt himself and his wife has relinquished his guns for a 364-day period:

A Denver probate court on Tuesday approved a 364-day extreme risk protection order for a Denver man who gave up two guns to Denver police in late December after he allegedly threatened himself and his wife with a handgun during and after a dispute.

A Denver police sergeant filed a petition on Jan. 2 for a 14-day temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) against the 26-year-old man, whom Denver7 is not naming because prosecutors declined to press charges against him. A hearing had been set for Jan. 16 to determine if a longer ERPO would be put in place for the man.

But the man and his attorney came to an agreement on a permanent order, which was filed Tuesday in Denver Probate Court, that the man will allow police to keep custody of his two semi-automatic handguns for a 364-day period that started Tuesday.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.

That’s an undeniably successful outcome, with a gun owner who threatened to kill himself and his wife voluntarily surrendering his guns in advance of the hearing. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on another “red flag” case that seems like a model utilization of the law out of Larimer County:

A Fort Collins man accused of sending texts threatening a “master plan” to eventually commit two school campus shootings is likely the first case of Colorado’s new “red flag” law being used in Larimer County.

In texts to his adoptive father in January and March last year, David Gatton, a 31-year-old military veteran, threatened to commit mass shootings, investigators say…

In the texts — which Gatton admitted to sending — he said he was struggling to find work and that if his adoptive parents didn’t stop asking him to pay back money he owed them, he would enact his plan to “kill a lot of people.”

Of the ERPO request cases filed since the law took effect at the beginning of the year, we know of two that have been denied. The first was a request made in conservative Lincoln County, where the sheriff and county government are hostile to the law–as we’ve discussed, a potential flashpoint if a refused request for an ERPO precipitates tragedy. The second case, which has received considerable attention in the last few days, concerns the mother of a young man who was killed by CSU police officers in Fort Collins, in what was determined to be a case of “suicide by cop” and a justified use of force. This ERPO case was dismissed earlier today for lack of standing, since the request falsely claimed that the petitioner and the police officer “shared a child.” The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement that the court ruled properly in denying Holmes’ petition.

“What the hearing today demonstrated is that there are protections in the ERPO law to prevent people from abusing it,” Weiser said. [Pols emphasis] “Abuse of this important law undermines the very fabric of its critical purpose, which is to protect public safety.”

During the initial confusion over Susan Holmes’ ERPO petition, which was apparently filed without a request for a temporary order making today the first opportunity for a judge to rule, local gun nuts seized on the as-yet unanswered questions about the case to spread misinformation and general discontent about the new “red flag” law. But in reality, early test cases like this one are necessary to establish precedents that determine how the law will function. The outcome of this particular case, which may include criminal charges for Holmes’ lying under oath, should inspire confidence that the checks and balances in the process to prevent abuse actually do work.

Unfortunately, the true moment to dread–the first improperly denied ERPO that results in preventable loss of life–is still out there waiting to happen. We expect that inevitability, but we do not relish it.

Colorado Legislators Joined Extremist Groups for a “We Will Not Comply” Rally against Red Flag Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Approximately two hundred people rallied at the state Capitol Saturday against Colorado’s new “red flag” law, which allows guns to be taken from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Organizers of the “We Will Not Comply” rally included Rally For Our Rights activist Lesley Hollywood, conservative Facebook personality Sheronna Bishop, and gun rights activist Lauren Boebert, who just launched her campaign for Colorado’s Third Congressional District, where she will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary.

Conservative activist Sherronna Bishop, who runs a Facebook page called “America’s Mom,” emceed the event. She thanked two groups for providing security: Boots On The Ground Bikers For Trump, and the Three Percenters.

 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists a number of “three percent” anti-government extremist groups in Colorado, including the American Patriots III%, which provided security. Also among the attendees were members of the Proud Boys, which is designated as a hate group by the SPLC.

(more…)

Gun Nuts Vow To Help Nuts Keep Their Guns

The Nuge approves.

Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports from Saturday’s rally at the Colorado state capitol in opposition to the state’s new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, which takes effect on January 1–where gun-rights activists have sworn to resist a law supported overwhelmingly by the public, allowing family and law enforcement to petition in court for temporary removal of guns from people who are a significant risk to themselves or others:

The new law allows a family member or law enforcement official to petition a court to temporarily remove guns for up to a year from someone who appears to pose a danger to themself or others.

“We are going to be tracking everything about them,” said Lesley Hollywood, the founder of the group Rally For Our Rights, which hosted the event. “We’ll be tracking which judges are ordering these so come time to elect the judges out, we can do that, too.”

She said the group is going to have resources for attorneys and mental health professionals about the law and will not let her rights be taken away.

“We will not comply with laws that infringe on our right to keep and bear arms,” she said. “It is downright dangerous. It’s unconstitutional.”

It’s a point we’ve made before about “resisting” this law in particular, which is different from other gun control laws in Colorado like the magazine limit which 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger found to be widely disregarded by gun dealers–especially in counties where the local sheriff has suggested they won’t enforce the law. “Resisting” the magazine limit is as simple as obtaining an easily obtainable illegal high capacity magazine. In order to “resist” the ERPO law, it’s necessary for a person who has already been ruled in court to be a significant risk to themselves or others to refuse to comply with an order to surrender their guns.

Needless to say, that’s a much bigger deal.

Surrender of firearms on either a temporary or a permanent basis is nothing new in either federal or Colorado law. It happens routinely when a person is convicted of a qualifying crime. In Colorado, a person subject to a protective order in a domestic violence case can be ordered to surrender their guns until the case is resolved. We don’t know if domestic violence and surrender of guns before conviction came up Saturday, but ERPOs operate on a similar legal principle. Should wife beaters also “not comply?”

As we’ve said many times since the ERPO law was passed and the vocal gun-rights minority vowed to “not comply” with the law, in just a few weeks these will no longer be hypothetical discussions. Other states with similar red flag laws on the books are quickly amassing success stories, dangerous people who by any objective reasoning should not possess weapons being disarmed before they can make good on their desires.

We predict it won’t be long before one side in this debate loses definitively.

We hope not too many people get hurt in the meantime.

So You “Won’t Comply” With The Red Flag Law, Will You?

This Saturday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, a “We Will Not Comply” rally is scheduled to be hosted by pro-gun activists and Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, “to stand against Colorado’s dangerous & unconstitutional RED FLAG LAW (emphasis theirs) before it goes into effect January 2020.” Pro-gun rallies at the state capitol are common enough (and sparsely-attended enough) that they generally don’t warrant a mention, but with the new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) or “red flag” law set to take effect in Colorado at the beginning of January, Saturday’s rally does have some added significance.

Notably, the event does not have listed as any of its scheduled speakers as of this writing one of the state’s elected county sheriffs who have controversially declared their intent to ignore the ERPO law when it takes effect next month, which could expose those officials to sanctions including contempt of court in addition to allowing potentially disastrous public safety risks with both political and human costs. Colorado is not the only state with a red flag law, but the open defiance of a few local officials here has been a distinguishing feature of the debate.

And that got us to thinking: what exactly does it mean for individual citizens to declare they “will not comply” with the ERPO law? Does this mean they would not utilize the law to prevent a family member from harming themselves? Does it mean they would they not surrender their own guns if ordered to do so via an ERPO? Are they suggesting persons subject to an ERPO should…resist? The legal questions and liabilities are different from those faced by law enforcement, but with the ERPO law about to take effect it’s time to have a sober conversation about what this kind of rhetoric actually translates to in the real world.

Because in a few weeks this law, supported overwhelmingly by the public in every poll, is going to be real.

We predict that a good deal of the rhetoric against the law in the past year will not age well.

Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

It’s a rite of passage for Colorado Republicans aspiring to higher office to take a trip to the Mexican border (needless to say, well outside their jurisdiction) for the purpose of demonstrating their commitment to “stopping the invasion.” Back in 2010, a group of Republican state lawmakers made a now-infamous trip to Arizona hosted by SPLC-listed hate group American Border Patrol to study the impact of that state’s anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:

From left: 2010 House candidate (now Senate Minority Leader) Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

The 2010 visit to Arizona in particular raised eyebrows due to the contact by Colorado Republican lawmakers with decidedly non-governmental militia groups and anti-immigrant activists. Lawmakers “toured” the border with the so-called “American Border Patrol” openly carrying weapons and playing with night vision equipment (photo right).

In 2014, Republican lawmakers paid another visit to the Texas border, but this time SB-1070 had been repealed and lawmakers confined their visit to official Border Patrol and other agencies. Ironically there seem to have been fewer trips of this kind to the border by Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump took office, or in any event less publicized. We assume that’s because it’s mostly Democrats heading to the border now documenting a humanitarian crisis.

With that said, Trump’s border wall remains very popular with base conservative Republican voters, the exact segment of the electorate the upwardly mobile Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams hopes to rally to victory in a future election for higher office. Reams is promising a big reveal on his Facebook page from his time on the border last week, and even though Weld County is 700 miles from the nearest Mexican border he’ll no doubt rivet his target audience with tales of intrigue and danger and steel slats.

As the most visible of the state’s elected politician-sheriffs, it’s been clear for some time now that Reams has higher ambitions–whether the legislature, the on-again off-again list to succeed Rep. Ken Buck in CD-4, or another more overtly political role than sheriff. We’re not as confident how he’ll fare once he gets there, but the border photo op checks off a telltale box.