Yes, you read that right. On just this one point, we concur with the NRA: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. And if we accept that as fact, then it’s surprising the NRA doesn’t support “red flag” bills nationwide. But they haven’t, and right now they’re fighting Colorado’s red flag legislation, House Bill 1177.
We don’t understand the NRA position, one shared by El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, the county commissioners and The Gazette’s editorial board, who stated as much in their March 19 editorial.
After all, HB1177 would arm society against individuals like James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooter, who entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but was still convicted.
HB1177 would permit law enforcement and friends and family members of a person who “poses a significant risk to self or others” to petition a judge for an Extreme Risk Protection Order. In a crisis situation, it would temporarily remove the person’s access to firearms, which beats the hell out of “thoughts and prayers” as a strategy to combat gun violence and suicide by gun.
The Gazette’s editorial board members stooped to a new low when they directly threatened state legislators, including Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, with recall campaigns if they support this sensible measure that 13 states and Washington, D.C., have already enacted. Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act passed with the support of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and 67 NRA A-rated legislators.
The Gazette’s editorial could have mentioned Robert Lewis Dear Jr., who murdered three and injured nine at the local Planned Parenthood clinic, and has “delusional disorder, persecutory type,” making him incompetent to stand trial.
Or Noah Harpham, who murdered three near downtown Colorado Springs and was shot by police. Harpham’s ex-girlfriend told police he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; his stepfather flew to the Springs that day to try to have him hospitalized but arrived after the shootings.
Instead, The Gazette wrote: “No one rational wants firearms in the hands of unstable individuals who pose clear and present danger to themselves and/or others. That does not mean we can proceed with an ends-justifies-the-means circumvention of due process, property rights and gun rights.”
So it’s too bad all those innocent people were shot to death, but at least the murderers’ property rights weren’t abused.
We understand that some people are opposed to any and all gun regulations, no matter how sensible or limited. But The Gazette was wrong to threaten legislators with “obscurity” for following through with their principles and protecting their constituents.
If you disagree with The Gazette’s heavy-handed editorial, let them and your state legislators know you support the red flag bill. Contact the El Paso County Board of Commissioners and tell them too. After all, the sheriff and commissioners say they plan a legal battle over HB1177 if it becomes law — and it’s tax dollars allocated to protect your family that they’ll be using to fight their personal, political pro-gun battle.
So back to our original point. Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, is a co-sponsor of HB1177. On July 20, 2012, James Holmes, who pled “not guilty by reason of insanity,” murdered Sullivan’s son Alex at the Century 16 theater. It’s about people killing people, no matter what The Gazette, the NRA, Bill Elder or the county commissioners try to tell you.