A firearms debate is playing out in rural counties, where sheriffs hold broad policing authority, as well as in Denver’s suburbs, where a Republican sheriff faces recall for backing gun control laws, USA Today reports. On one side are groups such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center. On the other are gun rights groups, such as those that organized a protest against the laws at Colorado’s Capitol on Saturday that drew hundreds waving “Don’t tread on me” flags and signs that read, “We the people will not give up our guns.” Colorado passed a “red flag law” this month, becoming the 15th state to do so. Similar legislation is pending in 20 other states.
The laws allow family, roommates or law enforcement to ask a court for a temporary order to seize firearms from those deemed to pose a significant danger to themselves or others. An emergency 14-day order can be issued for imminent risk, and a yearlong prohibition of firearm possession can be ordered. In rural New Mexico, Sheriff Ian Fletcher is fighting back against new state firearm laws he calls unconstitutional, decrying “out-of-state gun control groups” in a column for the Catron Courier. Fletcher’s work is part of a campaign among representatives of at least 75 cities and counties nationwide that call themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, opposing enforcement of gun background checks and emergency protection orders. Fletcher didn’t write the column; a National Rifle Association lobbyist did. NRA officials defend sending sample letters to the editor. “This is a distraction being pitched to reporters by the Michael Bloomberg-financed gun control lobby in response to the public’s strong opposition to their extreme gun control measures,” said Catherine Mortensen, an NRA spokeswoman.