For years, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) has caved to NRA pressure and failed to support red flag laws, which empower loved ones or law enforcement to intervene in order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms. When asked about red flag laws in May, for example, Senator Gardner said, “we should protect our communities, but we can’t violate the Constitution.” And after deadly mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso this summer, Senator Gardner said, “I don’t support gun control.” The NRA, which opposed Colorado’s red flag law and vowed to oppose any federal ERPO law, gave Senator Gardner an ‘A’ rating in his last election and has donated more money to him than nearly any other member of Congress.
Senator Gardner still doesn’t support red flag laws, despite a new Washington Post report showing that Colorado’s new red flag law made an impact just one day after it took effect:
- “One day after Colorado’s new firearm seizure law took effect, authorities in the state appear to have used it for the first time.”
- “Denver police were dispatched to an apartment complex in the city’s southwest, where a 26-year-old man told them he wanted to ‘off’ himself after getting into a fight with his wife and her sister, according to the petition. The man’s wife told investigators he had attempted to strangle her and had brandished a gun during the altercation.”
- “Officers searched the man and found a Glock 9mm handgun in his waistband, according to the petition. Later, the man let police take a second firearm, a .45-caliber Springfield handgun, from his home.”
- “In conversations with investigators, the man said he was ‘contemplating doing something bad to myself’ and that it was a ‘good thing they stopped me because it was not good.’”
- “Police said the man’s statements constituted a ‘credible threat’ that he would use the guns to harm himself or someone else and asked a judge to decide whether they must return them. If a judge grants the petition, police could keep his guns for 364 days, as allowed under Colorado’s law. The man could also be barred from possessing other firearms during that period.”
Senator Gardner has also told two confidants that he opposes red flag laws. Dudley Brown, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said that Senator Gardner “has voiced directly to me… that he is opposed to red flag laws and thinks they’re unconstitutional.” Steve Reams, the sheriff of Weld County, CO, added that Senator Gardner “has made his position clear with me. He said he wasn’t supportive of red flag legislation.” Despite Senator Gardner’s concerns about constitutionality, red flag laws are constitutional and respectful of due process.
Red flag laws are also broadly popular––in a recent survey of 2,500 likely voters, 85% of respondents and 78% of gun owners favored Congress passing a red flag law––and proven to save lives. Following Connecticut’s increased enforcement of its Extreme Risk law, one study found the law to be associated with a 14% reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate. And in Indiana, in the 10 years after the state passed its Extreme Risk law in 2005, the state’s firearm suicide rate decreased by 7.5%.
Colorado passed its red flag law in April of 2019, making it one of 17 states that have empowered family members or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns when there is evidence they pose a serious risk to themselves or others. The law took effect on January first.