The extreme Risk Protection Order, ERPO, commonly known as the Red Flag Law and the attendant effort to declare Chaffee County a Second Amendment sanctuary has played prominently as a campaign issue. 

Many of the descriptions of the Board of County Commissioner’s decision not to take up the question of becoming a sanctuary county are inconsistent accounts with what actually happened. 

I attended the March 19, 2019 meeting of the BoCC and am writing to set the record straight as to what really happened that day.

Sheriff John Speeze presented his case for the sanctuary declaration. Following that Commissioner Greg Felt expounded at length upon the support the county had given to the Sheriff’s Department and the reasons the sanctuary designation was inappropriate. Felt’s comments were echoed by Commissioner Baker. 

Commissioner Granzella voiced his discomfort with the term sanctuary and said he could not support the sanctuary designation.

In the end, no commissioner offered a motion to consider the sanctuary declaration and the matter died. 

Chairman Felt subsequently lost control of the meeting when a member of the audience stood and demanded a vote on the issue by the commissioners.  One by one, the commissioners voiced opposition to the sanctuary declaration. 

It is unclear why Commissioner Felt allowed this to occur, as no public comment was to be allowed at this meeting, as noted in the published notice for the meeting, and there was no motion on the floor.

Two days later, on March 21, the commissioners and Sherriff Speeze signed statement expressing serious reservations about the bill as written. Areas of concern mentioned were “legal issues, fiscal issues, lack of emphasis on mental health and impacts on law enforcement.”

It is clear that many who have written letters regarding the ERPO statute could not possibly be aware that opposition to the sanctuary declaration was unanimous within the BoCC and that concerns about the bill were unanimously expressed later by all three commissioners and Sherriff Speeze. A video record of the meeting is available for viewing.

There are remedies available to repeal the ERPO, but none have been taken. 

The remedies are judicial, legislative and electoral. To put the county’s financial security at risk of lawsuits from non-enforcement of the ERPO statute would be irresponsible on the part of the commissioners.

Perhaps this is why they acted unanimously in opposing the sanctuary designation.

JoAnne Allen


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