Colorado Court of Appeals reverses dismissal of lawsuit on passage of red flag gun law

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a district court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit that claimed Colorado’s red flag gun law was improperly passed and sent the case back to district court.

The suit claimed passage of the law violated the state constitution and Colorado House rules because requests by former Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone and Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs to read the full bill were denied or not considered.

At one point, several clerks began reading different sections of the bill at the same time in response to a request the full bill be read.

Loveland-based Rocky Mountain Gun Owners funded the lawsuit, which was also brought by Saine, Williams and Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

The constitution calls for bills to be read in full unless “dispensed with upon unanimous consent of the members present.”

The red flag law, passed in 2019, took effect last year and allows judges to temporarily remove firearms from people who are thought to be high risk of harming themselves or others. Supporters lauded the law, saying it will decrease shootings and suicides, but opponents argue that it violates their Second Amendment rights.

A Denver Post review found that in its first year, the majority of requests granted for permanent extreme risk protection orders were from law enforcement and fears of widespread misuse have not come to fruition.

In the ruling released Wednesday, the Court of Appeals judges wrote that they are not opining on how the Denver District Court should decide the case. But, they said, the district court erred when it said it couldn’t make a decision because the lawsuit was related to a political question — whether the rules were violated — that didn’t fall under the court’s jurisdiction.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Taylor Rhodes said in an interview that the group is confident the district court will rule in their favor, with attorneys referring to it as a “slam dunk.”

In a written statement, Rhodes said the ruling “signaled a significant step forward in fully repealing Colorado’s egregious gun confiscation scheme.”

In a statement, Colorado House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat and one of the red flag gun law’s sponsors, said “Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection law is working and saving lives, and it’s disappointing to see lawmakers try turn back the clock and challenge a law that we know makes our communities safer. I’m confident that the law was passed correctly and that all proper procedure was followed in accordance with the Constitution.”

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