Colorado is overdue for red flag warning legislation


You would think that given Colorado’s unfortunate history of shootings and killings in high profile incidents that our state would have been a leader in adopting red flag warning legislation.

While Columbine High School, Aurora theatre and other shootings in our state have been a factor in the conversation and lobbying efforts, partisan politics have blocked successful adoption of such legislation. In fact, a bi-partisan supported bill to enact red flag warning legislation was killed last year in a Republican-controlled committee by three loyal Republicans.

But alas, the Blue Wave in Colorado produced the trifecta with the Democrats in control of both legislative houses and Jared Polis in the Governor’s Office. The voters have re-set the table for a variety of issues to be re-addressed. Patience and perseverance may pay off.

A new tool to deal with mentally unstable shooters

As we know, mental illness is a key factor in many of the shootings and killings. Too often when we learn about a shooting, a part of the report includes a statement about law enforcement being aware of the unstableness or mental issues of the shooter.

However, currently law enforcement does not have the authority to intercede and remove any weapons which the subject individual might possess.

Clearly, red flag legislation is needed to give law enforcement the ability to step in as a short-term preventive measure. Such action could very well save the lives of innocent victims as well as the person wishing to do harm.

Recall James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 and injured 70 at the Aurora movie theatre. Clearly, there was an awareness of his mental instability prior to the horrific killings he caused. Perhaps this tragic shooting would have never taken place if a red flag warning law had been in place and utilized prior to that fateful date.

Due process is afforded the gun owner

Gun-advocates say that their Second Amendment rights would be violated. I don’t think so.

There is due process contained in the proposed legislation. Police officers cannot simply grab the firearms away at will from the person under scrutiny. Before any action can be taken, either law enforcement, a family member or a household member would have to petition a judge for the removal of the person’s firearms on a temporary basis.

The judge would hold a hearing and decide whether to grant an order for up to 14 days allowing law enforcement to take possession of the weapons.

This is not in violation of the Second Amendment. Based on testimony given to the judge, the bill could allow a hold order being extended for up to 364 days.

The current bill working its way through the legislative morass calls for the gun owner to be provided with an attorney at no charge. It also would give judges the option to order mental health, drug and alcohol evaluations. I hope this time our State Legislature has the wisdom and courage to adopt the needed legislation.

$22 trillion debt is a major concern

Here’s something to be concerned about as Congress and the President consider new spending or increased spending. The U.S. Treasury Department recently announced that the national debt topped $22 trillion for the first time ever!

When President Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017, it stood at $19.95 trillion. The debt amount has been rising at a faster pace after the passage of Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and Congressional action last year to increase domestic and military programs.

A nation that could be swallowed by its debt

Here is what is staggering — according to Michael Peterson, head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the interest on the debt costs taxpayers $1 billion daily.

He stated, “…our growing national debt matters because it threatens the economic future of every American.”

Too often, the attitude of a lot of Americans is “so what” when it comes to macro issues like this. However, as more debt is added and more interest has to be paid, it leaves less and less for domestic programs like affordable housing, food assistance, natural disaster relief, road construction, health care and other important programs.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that this year’s deficit will be $897 billion or 15.1 percent higher than the year before. The CBO shows increasing deficits through 2029 with it hitting $1 trillion higher starting in 2022.

Keep in mind that as interest rates rise, the national deficit goes higher. Given our current low interest rates, our nation is destined to be swallowed by debt.

Addressing plastics in the waste stream

So, how do you feel about plastic straws being set on your table by the wait staff at your favorite restaurant when you didn’t even ask for them? Well, a bill has been introduced in the state house which would mandate that the customers would have to ask for straws.

While there are a few exceptions in this bill, I think it is a small step in the right direction. My wife and I eat out fairly regularly. One of the irritants for us is when the wait staff brings straws for our beverages. We don’t use straws and ask the person to take them back. Since when did our society need to suck water, ice tea, juice or soft drinks through a straw? It is an extra cost (yes, quite small) and something else to put in the landfill which won’t break down for a cagillon years - or longer!

Now, let’s get on to the tougher problems managing plastics in the waste stream.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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