COLORADO – Weld County Colorado’s Sheriff Steve Reams has become the face of anti-gun safety legislation in America, and, as such, has become a hero of the NRA (National Rifle Association). The good sheriff who now frequently appears on Fox and other cable news networks, owes his new found fame to his outspoken opposition to a state bill known as the “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO).
Reams, 43, a veteran law enforcement official, no doubt knows that ERPO fits into the same legal category as similar gun control laws already passed in 14 states and currently pending in 7 others across America. That category is known as red flag laws (RFL).
RFL’s are not complicated. They were devised to save lives. RFL’s do so by authorizing state judges to order the temporary confiscation of fire-arms from gun owners whom family members, roommates, and or police, have sworn in an affidavit (under the risk of criminal prosecution for making “false or frivolous” charges) have exhibited behavior indicating they might be a danger to themselves or others.
Reams is far from alone in his opposition to ERPO. Thirty-two of the 64 Colorado counties have with the support of the majority of their respective sheriffs passed resolutions stating they will not enforce ERPO, which was signed into law last week by Democrat Governor Jared Polis.
Incredibly, some Colorado sheriffs have even gone further in their war against ERPO. Paraphrasing the adage “Sanctuary City”, coined by many left-leaning governors and mayors concerning their refusal to enforce federal immigration laws, some, including Reams, have even gone so far as declaring “sanctuary counties”, as they defiantly reinforced their threat not to enforce red flag laws.
It is important to note that almost all of the opponents of ERPO are Republicans. Perplexingly, they, like Republican Reams, fail to adhere to the recently minted Republican mantra, “data does not lie”. While the national level GOP first employed that expression to make the point that the economic statistics showing the enormous success of President Trump’s tax plan are irrefutable (as I believe), the same aphorism, research proves, should also apply to red flag laws – most significantly in preventing suicide by guns which result in the deaths of approximately 22,000 Americans every year, including more than one thousand children and teenagers.
Both government and private studies have shown that having access to a fire-arm – whether by its owner or by his or her family members – triples the risk of suicide. This eye-opening finding, can, based on these studies, be attributed to the lethality of firearms: nationwide 85% of people using fire-arms to commit suicide will die, while 95% of people who attempt suicide using other means will survive.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that states which have red flag laws-including Connecticut and Indiana – have witnessed a significant reduction in the rate of suicides, saving hundreds of lives. Reams must know this.
He also must know that red flag laws offer law enforcement officials an effective tool to prevent mass shootings carried out with military style weapons that have plagued America for decades, claiming more than 1800 innocent American lives since 2,006 alone. One such mass murder, out of many others, that might have been prevented had red flag laws been in effect at the time occurred in our nation on February 14, 2018. On that terrible day, a nineteen-year old barbarian named Nicholas Cruz used a deadly AR-15 type weapon to slaughter 14 students and 3 staff members at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida.
The circumstances surrounding the murder of these 17 innocents should shame any opponent of red flag laws. Shortly after the massacre, Lynda Cruz, the step-mother of the monster, stated that days prior to February 14, she had made several phone calls to local law enforcement stating that her step-son possessed weapons, which she said she warned he might use to commit murder. So, she recalled, she plead with them to confiscate his weapons. The police, as she recounted to local and national media, responded that they, unfortunately, did not have the legal right to take such a proactive action. They were right. Without red flag laws in effect, they didn’t.
May I recommend that Reams takes a few minutes out of his busy day as Sheriff of Weld County as well as his second job as the de-facto head spokesperson of the anti-red flag law movement and search the internet to find the pictures and life stories of the 17 people Cruz slaughtered at Marjory Stoneman High School. He can learn these stories by simply googling, “A Remembrance of the victims from the Parkland Shooting – as told by their classmates”, Miami Herald, February 13, 2019.
As noted, I assume Reams usually has a busy day. So I suggest he just begin with the first three. The first he will learn about and whose beautiful face he will see will be Alyssa Alhadeff. Alyssa, 14, as Reams will read, was described by her friends as “a caring sister, a loving daughter, a determined student and a standout soccer player… Alongside her soccer, she also enjoyed her debate class and volunteering at homeless shelters. Her kindness, warmth and contagious laugh will always be remembered by her friends and family.”
When Reams turns the page, he will next see the bright handsome face and learn about the short-life and large dreams of Martin Duque Anguiano. About this forever 14- year old boy, who leaves behind his parents and 4 siblings, Reams will be informed, “He was a dedicated JROTC member who dreamt of becoming a Navy Seal… He could brighten anyone’s day with the childlike sense of humor he was known for. He has been described as a “shine of light in the world.”
Turning the page again Reams will see the picture of Nicholas Dworet, standing in a swimming lane in the school’s pool, wearing a wonderful smile on his strikingly handsome face. About this 17-year old captain of the school swim team, who was murdered while in his Holocaust History class, Reams will see the words, “He was a loving boyfriend, caring friend and cherished son. He lifted the spirits of those around him with his infectious smile and positive attitude. He was offered a scholarship to swim for the University of Indianapolis, putting him one step closer to achieving his dream of competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”
As Reams continues to turn the pages on the Miami Herald story and learns about the other 14 young Americans who were slaughtered at Marjorie Stoneman High School, he might come to understand why shortly after the massacre Florida passed red flag laws, and why Florida Republican United States Senator Marco Rubio, once accused of being a pawn of the NRA, is now supporting the passage of a similar law on a federal level.
Perhaps then Reams might reconsider his promise (made several weeks before ERPO was signed into law) that “I’d rather go to jail then enforce unconstitutional red flag gun laws”.
In the event, though, that he still opposes red flag laws, I suggest that he make a simple local phone call to Colorado’s Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. One of the few Republicans who strongly support ERPO, Spurlock, I have no doubt, would begin the conversation with just two words: Zack Parrish.
Zack Parrish, I am convinced Spurlock would remind Reams, was the 29- year old Douglas County Deputy Sheriff, who two years ago was gunned down by a man, who authorities later revealed had a long and well-known history of exhibiting the type of threatening behavior that would have led police to confiscate his arsenal of weapons had a red flag law been in effect in Colorado at the time. It was, in fact, Spurlock’s belief that red flag laws would have prevented the death of Parrish, who was the married father of two young girls, that made him one of ERPO’s earliest and strongest supporters.
If after getting off the phone with Sheriff Spurlock and, before that, seeing the images and learning about the lives of the 17 innocents murdered at Marjory Stoneman High School, Reams still opposes ERPO and still threatens not to enforce it, there would remain only one place better suited to house him than a cell in his own jail house, to which he defiantly promised he would rather go than enforce Colorado’s “Unconstitutional red flag law”; it would be hell.