President Donald Trump on Monday signaled openness to a "red flag" law that would temporarily remove firearms from those deemed a risk to themselves or others, similar to a Colorado bill signed into law this year by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," Trump said Monday in remarks from the White House regarding two deadly shootings this past weekend, in Ohio and Texas, that killed 31 and wounded dozens.
Seventeen states, including Colorado, had some form of a red flag law as of March, according to The Trace, a website that bills itself as an "independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit" news outlet.
Bills have been proposed in an additional four states, according to the outlet.
Colorado's law, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on April 12, allows family members or law enforcement officers to seek a court order that would allow police to remove firearms from someone deemed a substantial risk to themselves or to others.
Such orders are also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) or Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs).
The Colorado bill roiled the Republican Party in Colorado and has been one of the issues cited in an ongoing attempt to recall Polis.
A similar but unsuccessful red flag measure last year likely contributed to the defeat of Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial, after he supported the 2018 legislation. As some Republicans retreated from him and another red-flag supporter, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Democrats were able to unseat Wist for gun-control advocate Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. Brauchler was defeated by Democrat Phil Weiser in the state attorney general's race last November.
Brauchler prosecuted James Holmes, the shooter in the theater massacre. Wist said he was motivated to support the red-flag law after law enforcement officers were ambushed and one was killed in Highlands Ranch in his district in December 2017.
The bill that was killed by Republicans, who held the majority in the state Senate during the 2018 session, was named for the fallen Douglas County sheriff's deputy: the Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act.
Democrats took the majority in the Senate last November.
Leaders in a handful of Colorado counties have declared themselves Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties that won’t enforce the law. Those counties so far include Weld, Elbert, Fremont and other conservative enclaves.
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder has said his deputies will enforce court orders despite opposition, a break from many other counties considered conservative.
Sheriffs in Colorado have the autonomy to set local law enforcement priorities, and this applies to the state's red flag law, Polis said this spring. Several days prior, Weiser, had said that sheriffs should resign if they are unwilling to enforce the law.
Colorado Politics reached out to the sheriff's offices of all counties mentioned in this article regarding Trump's statement Monday morning. As of press time, responses had not yet been received.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday he has reached an agreement with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal to create a federal grant program to help states adopt "red flag" protection order laws, making it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The grants would be given to law enforcement so they can hire and consult with mental health professionals to better determine which cases need to be acted upon, Graham said, adding that while the program allows for quick action, it requires judicial review.
Graham and Blumenthal, D-Conn., teamed up on a bill last year to authorize federal red-flag orders but the bill did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
The Associated Press and Colorado Politics staff contributed to this report.