In this episode, we discuss the introduction of HB19-1177, formally known as "The Deputy Zackari Parish III Violence Prevention Act," and informally known as the "Extreme Risk Protection Order" (ERPO) bill. After some brief discussion over what an ERPO is, we hear highlights from the introductory press conference from members of law enforcement, gun violence prevention advocates, and members of the Colorado General Assembly.
Rep. Tom Sullivan: We can’t afford to stay in our lane about these issues that are impacting our families and communities. Whether you’re a student, a mom, or a retired postal worker, turned state Representative, like me, your voice can truly make a difference if you’re willing to talk loud enough.
I’m Representative Tom Sullivan. That’s why I’m here.
I’m here to help save lives.
Majority Leader Garnett: Welcome to Episode 4 of The SmartAlec Podcast, with your host Majority Leader Alec Garnett. It is Friday, February 15th, Day 43 of the Colorado Legislative session. There are 77 days left.
I’m here, as always, with Ethan. And Ethan, today we are going to talk about the introduction of the Deputy Zackari Parish III Violence Prevention Act, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Order, and we’re going to hear clips from the very powerful press conference yesterday announcing the introduction of the bill.
Ethan Black: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. Why don’t we start off with, what is an Extreme Risk Protection Order?
Majority Leader Garnett: An Extreme Risk Protection Order is a tool that family members or law enforcement can use (if they get one from a judge) to step in and help somebody; a loved one, a friend, somebody in crisis, who may be on the brink of hurting themselves or may be on the brink of hurting a bunch of people in the community. It’s a way to temporarily remove the firearm from the situation so that that person can get help and move through that crisis before a tragedy strikes.
Ethan Black: Yeah. So this is helping people who…I think that’s a great way of explaining it. You know, instead of someone who wants to hurt themselves, they’re trying to, you know, possibly hurt someone else. If they’re going through a crisis, if they’re demonstrating that they might hurt someone, they might hurt themselves — this is a way to help save lives.
Majority Leader Garnett: That’s absolutely right. This bill is about saving lives, and there are things that states across the country are taking the lead on. Putting this tool in place for law enforcement, in particular, is really, really important. When you look at the mass shootings across the country, when you look at what happens usually when somebody is leading up to suicide, this tool, whether or not it’s in states that have had it since 1999 or in states that should have had it before tragedy hit, has been proven to be very effective in helping those people in crisis.
Ethan Black: I think that’s a great way of explaining it. So, why don’t we hear some clips and highlights from yesterday’s press conference.
Majority Leader Garnnet: Awesome.
Ethan Black: First, you’ll hear from Sheriff Joe Pelle and Sheriff Tony Spurlock about why law enforcement needs a tool like the Extreme Risk Protection Order. The sheriffs’ words, as well as the remarks of the other speakers in the remainder of the podcast, have been trimmed for the sake of clarity and time.
Sheriff Joe Pelle: …In Colorado we have laws, we have tools that give us the ability to restrict access and sales of firearms to people who’ve been convicted of certain crimes, like felonies and domestic violence. We have the tools to restrict access to firearms for people who have restraining orders against them, particularly for issues like domestic violence. But we have no tool, no legal means, to restrict access to a firearm or sale of a firearm from someone who’s in an acute behavioral health crisis and who is a risk to themselves and other people.
Sheriff Tony Spurlock: We know for a fact that if we can remove a gun from someone who is mentally ill and is thinking about suicide that the chances of them - if we remove that gun - the chances of them committing suicide is so drastically reduced. Why wouldn’t we want to do that? This is about saving lives.
The other side of this is that there are folks that sometimes do not have the ability to take care of themselves. And they engage with law enforcement for a variety of different reasons. Law enforcement is put in harm’s way, the citizens are put in harm’s way. This allows law enforcement across the state of Colorado to intervene early, to intervene when these folks are at this state, and do two things.
One; get them in a place where they can have treatment and they can get help, and also temporarily remove the firearms from their access so it minimizes the possibility of a disaster from occurring. And I want to just reiterate the two things: it temporarily removes the weapons from these people. Once they are cared for and treated, they have the opportunity, and the application is available in this law, to return the property to them.
The other part of this issue is that we need in this state a tool to give to the men and women that are out there every day, that are taking care of the citizens who are in this unfortunate position that we can help them. So many times we’ve been able to do that and tragedy has as come on our doorstep. So I am very, very thankful that the legislators have taken this. I’m very impressed and had the opportunity to learn a lot from Representative Garnett, and I’m so, so thankful that he’s stood up again and brought some more folks with him, some more legislators, who have the same feeling as he does. So I want to thank them all and I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak today.
Finally, we do a shoutout to HD2 restaurant "Chook Charcoal Chicken," which was named one of Denver's Hottest New Restaurants by Eater.com. (denver.eater.com/maps/best-new-re…s-denver-heatmap)
THE SMARTALEC PODCAST
The SmartAlec Podcast is a weekly look inside local Colorado state politics. Each week hosts House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and his aide Ethan Black talk through the most important and interesting legislation of the week in the Colorado General Assembly. As the only podcast hosted by a Colorado state legislator, the SmartAlec Podcast is the best inside view into current developments under Colorado’s gold-domed capitol.