Sheriff Gene Lillard sits with other community members

Sheriff Gene Lillard, pictured, and county commissioners have voiced concerns with so-called red flag legislation currently making its way through the Colorado Legislature. 

Montrose county commissioners and Sheriff Gene Lillard met Monday to discuss the “red flag” gun bill currently making its way through the Colorado Legislature.

The bill would allow law enforcement agencies to take firearms from people if a judge decides they are at risk of harming themselves or others.

Lillard, Commissioner Roger Rash and Commissioner Keith Caddy spoke out in opposition of the bill, saying it restricts Second Amendment rights and sets a bad precedent for future gun control laws.

“I strongly support the fact that we need to protect our Second Amendment rights at all costs,” Lillard said. “I think this is just another chip in our armor to cause problems later on down the road. I do understand there is problems with people committing suicide. I think that should be early intervention. That should be my family members and also professional people that can intervene and help that from happening. I’m in favor of a sanctuary county regarding our Second Amendment rights.”

Several counties across the state have adopted resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in one form or another in recent weeks, in response to the so-called red flag bill. Custer, Fremont, Kiowa, Montezuma, Otera, Weld, Moffat, Rio Blanco and El Paso counties have all adopted such resolutions. Last week, Lillard joined in on the chorus against the bill, prompting the Monday morning meeting with commissioners.

Commissioners Monday expressed intention to vote on a resolution decrying the red flag bill during the March 20 Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Some critiques of the bill discussed Monday centered on potential abusers of the law if a bill were passed and putting officers in harm’s way by asking them to serve warrants to seize people’s firearms.

“I do believe this is state government overreach. I it’s not beneficial to our communities. I think that it’s penalizing law-abiding citizens that’s opening a big can of worms,” Rash said. “I’m definitely concerned about our sheriff’s department, that they’d have to serve these (court orders to seize guns.”

Lillard said, “What concerns me as far as dealing with domestic violence, where you have a disgruntled husband or disgruntled wife that would get into (a fight), and she would go in and swear or he would go in and swear under oath that the other person was crazy, and that would get the ball rolling on them losing their firearms.”

Other concerns, voiced mostly by members of the public during the public comment portion of the meeting, but also expressed by Commissioner and Board Chair Sue Hansen, circled around neighbors with ill intent toward one another using the would-be law in a retaliatory way.

Rash expressed concern that people who might commit suicide often don’t show signs ahead of time, rendering the spirit of the law in regard to suicide pointless.

Hansen also asked about the legitimacy of the opinion of an accuser or judge who might not be a health professional. She was concerned that people without medical credentials could, in a sense, act as judge on whether someone is fit to possess a gun.

What exactly will be included in the resolution on March 20 is unclear, but Rash said the resolution should send a message.

“In my opinion, it needs to be strong. It needs to send a message to the liberal folks in Denver that there are people out here that value the Second Amendment, our Constitution,” he said. “And if they want to penalize us, then so be it. We will deal with that in the next election if they want to go after the conservative base…”

Justin Tubbs is the managing editor at the Montrose Daily Press.

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