Maybe you saw the reports from Colorado about the county jail inmate who had petitioned a local court for an extreme risk protection (“red flag” confiscation) order against Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams. First, the good news: a local court took one look at the petition and threw it out, recognizing it for the frivolous harassment it was.
What makes the nuisance filing notable is that Sheriff Reams has been one of Colorado’s most vocal critics of the state’s “red flag” law. He vowed long ago not to enforce any confiscation orders issued against anyone in his Weld County jurisdiction…a county that declared itself a Second Amendment sanctuary almost a year ago.
TTAG talked to Sheriff Reams yesterday about the attempted “fed flag” confiscation. He told us that the prisoner petitioner — an inmate named Leo Crispin who’s been in the county jail for about two years — is something of a jailhouse lawyer, one who’s been known to be “uncooperative” at times.
Crispin claimed that county jail guards intimidate and abuse inmates. Sheriff Reams told us they carry shotguns with less lethal ammunition — basically beanbags — to use in the event inmates become violent. That apparently intimidates Crispin.
Under Colorado’s “red flag” law only relatives or those who live with a gun owner can petition the court to have their guns confiscated. Crispin’s novel theory was that because he resides in the county jail, which Sheriff Reams oversees, he “lives with” the sheriff and had standing to request the gun grab.
If the confiscation order had somehow been issued by the judge, the Sheriff — who has access to and is responsible for all of the county’s firearms — would have had to disarm not only himself, but everyone in the jail, guards included.
This kind of abuse of the law by someone with a beef against the targeted gun owner is precisely why Sheriff Reams opposed the ERPO law in the first place. And the consequences for filing a frivolous claim like this are minimal.
At most, under the Colorado law, Crispin faces a charge of perjury for claiming that he “lives with” the sheriff. But even that’s in doubt here, because Crispin will likely argue that’s his understanding of the law as it’s written.
The sheriff told us that only two motions (other than Crispin’s) for “red flag” confiscations have been filed in Weld County since the law went into effect, and both were denied. He said, though, that when his office is notified that the court has received an ERPO petition, his office notifies the targeted gun owners so they can defend themselves.
Sheriff Reams didn’t sound particularly concerned about Crispin’s legal Hail Mary maneuver. But what really concerns him is how the law can and likely will be used by people looking to harass their targets because of personal disputes, contentious divorces, whatever. Petitions that will result in actual gun confiscations.
In any case, he says he still opposes the new law and his department will not enforce any possible future “red flag” confiscation orders a court may issue in Weld County.