Colorado’s Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, which takes effect next year, is named for a 29-year-old Douglas County sheriff’s deputy who was killed in 2017 by a 36-year-old veteran with a history of psychological problems. The law allows a long list of people, including law enforcement officers, current or former household members, and people related by blood, marriage, or adoption, to seek a temporary “extreme risk protection order” (ERPO) against someone they believe “poses a significant risk of causing personal risk to self or others in the near future.” The standard of proof at this stage, when the “respondent” does not have an opportunity to respond, is a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning he is more likely than not to pose a significant risk.
Depending on what counts as a “significant risk,” the probability that the subject of a temporary order actually would have used a gun to hurt himself or someone else may be quite low. If 10 percent is significant, for example, that probability might be around 5 percent (51 percent times 10 percent). So even if judges are weighing the evidence with such precision, they will be taking away the Second Amendment rights of people who almost certainly would not have committed suicide or murder.
In practice, judges will be inclined to err on the side of what they take to be caution. When the only evidence comes from someone who believes the respondent poses a threat, judges will rarely, if ever, decline to issue a temporary ERPO. The possible downside of rejecting a petition—the death of the respondent or someone else—will weigh heavily on the judge’s mind, while the temporary deprivation of the subject’s constitutional rights will seem trivial by comparison.
It used to be possible to expose a Leftist’s hypocrisy by suggesting similar limits, restrictions, infringements, licensing, training, etc., for people to exercise their First Amendment rights. But now that it’s “Free speech for me but not for thee,” even that tool is gone.