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Buena Vista Town Attorney Jeff Parker gave a brief presentation on Colorado HB19-1177 (known as Extreme Risk Protection Order or ERPO) to the Buena Vista Board of Trustees on April 9. Parker’s information-session on HB19-1177, also known as the ‘Red Flag law’, was a last-minute addition to the agenda for the routine meeting.

Parker pointed out that HB19-1177 allows for firearms to be turned over to law enforcement and then stored with law enforcement or with a federally licensed gun dealer.

“A family or household member or LEO (law enforcement officer) can seek an ‘Extreme Risk Protection Order’” Parker told the trustees. “This would require the relinquishment of firearms by an individual who is found to pose a significant risk of harm to him or herself, or to other people by possessing, purchasing, or receiving firearms”

Parker explained that the process of enforcing HB19-1177 leading to a court order is broken into two distinct parts.

“There are two hearings. The first one is a hearing that can occur without notice to the individuals that is the subject of the potential order,” explained Parker. “[The first hearing] has to happen on the same day the petition is filed or on the following day. A law enforcement officer, family member, or household member can file an affidavit which has to lay out the reasons why the individual poses a threat.”

If the court finds the evidence defined in the affidavit sufficient, the subject of the affidavit will be served with a court order to relinquish his or her firearms.

“The court can issue a temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order, which can last up to 14 days,” Parker said. “That notice also has a return date to court for the individual to return to court in a 14 day period.”

During the second hearing, the court will assess whether or not to issue a second ERPO.

“The legal standards are different from the first and second hearing,” said Parker. “The first hearing is by the preponderance of the evidence that the individual poses a risk. The second hearing is by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher standard. It’s not quite beyond a reasonable doubt, but it’s higher.”

If the court makes the decision to issue a second order, then the subject of the order will be required to relinquish his or her firearms for 364 days.

Buena Vista Chief Police, Jimmy Tidwell, was also present to comment on the Red Flag Law. He gave the trustees his assessment of the Buena Vista Police Department’s ability to enforce it should it be signed in to law.

“We do not have the storage, at all,” said Tidwell. He explained that the Buena Vista Police Department would not be able to store large numbers of firearms.

According to Parker’s explanation, the law enforcement agency that collected the firearms is required to store them for the duration of the order.

“The person who has [law enforcement] taking [the firearms] can say, ‘I want them to go to the certified gun dealer if that’s an option.’ Otherwise, the law enforcement agency hangs on to [the firearms] for that year-long period,” explained Parker to the trustees.

Mayor Duff Lacy expressed to the trustees that the purpose for adding the Red Flag item to the agenda was purely informational purposes.

“The chief has given you (trustees) information on what our concerns could be as a town,” said Lacy, speaking to the trustees seated on either side of him. “We’ve talked about it. I’m more enlightened already just knowing what we [talked about] here. I just want everybody to be informed.”