Colorado’s ERPO: Addressing a Public Health Crisis

Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) HB19-1177 has been portrayed as a controversial bill, but after listening to the experts who crafted the bill, I feel more confident advocating for this common-sense gun legislation that will take us past simply thoughts and prayers.

The Colorado Springs Dems hosted an information session and discussion with Katie March, the Colorado House of Representatives Senior Advisor to the Majority Leader, presenting for Representative Alec Garnett (who wrote and sponsored the bill), and Dr. Erik Wallace, University of Colorado School of Medicine, who presented on public health data about gun-related violence and death.

Here’s some information I learned about the ERPO:

  • The only people who can submit an ERPO are household/family members or law enforcement.
  • Throughout the ERPO, the burden of proof is on the Petitioner (the person submitting the claim) – NOT on the Respondent (the person who the claim is filed against). The only time the burden of proof is on the Respondent, is if they want to demonstrate they are no longer a risk to themselves or others before the natural end of the ERPO (364 days).
  • Fourteen states (and D.C.) have enacted bipartisan ERPO laws, they are relatively new, so data is still limited.

“In a recent statewide survey, 87% of Coloradans support ERPOs, including 78% of Trump voters.” (Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, 2019)

So there’s that!

Shockingly, most gun deaths are overwhelmingly suicides, and Colorado has a SERIOUS problem.

  • In Colorado, 76% of gun deaths are suicides; compared to 60% nationally.
  • A gun is used in half of all suicide attempts.
  • Making a suicide attempt with a gun has an 85% chance of ending the person’s life, whereas attempting to take one’s life using pills is around 2% effective.
  • The argument that ‘people should be allowed to commit suicide if they want to’ isn’t supported by the data… only one in ten survivors of a suicide attempt will take their life (or attempt to) in the future.

An ERPO can help. This law (signed by Governor Polis on 04/12/19) is a valid attempt to save lives in a Constitutional and data-informed manner. I look forward to seeing more data and models to help us move forward in making even better decisions in the future.

BUT, this presentation also made it shockingly clear how much we need to address our access to high-quality, affordable healthcare – including, and especially, mental health. We need to address systemic issues that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair, and enact legislation that will ease economic suffering. We can work to ensure everyone has a stable home, people are paid a living wage, and our public education and family support systems are robust and extensive. Investing in Coloradans will invigorate the economy and create healthier and stronger citizens.

As a candidate for Colorado’s Senate District 10, in the heart of Colorado Springs, I stand with you to ensure that we push Colorado’s politics in the direction of supporting public health and well-being. I will stand for our families, for the future of our children, and for the health of this beautiful state. Let’s move Colorado forward together!

In solidarity,


Many thanks to the C Springs Dems and Moms Demand Action for the wonderful event!

Please support this grassroots campaign with a donation! Every donor counts!

Images of the handouts from the event are below.

March on the Campaign Trail…

March began with a flurry of activities for the Pikes Peak Breastfeeding Coalition. As the President, I hosted our monthly meeting at a new location ~ Beginnings Birth Center ~ which is Colorado Springs’ first free-standing birth center!

The Coalition also hosted a screening of ‘Milk’, a documentary about the politics of motherhood and infant feeding, on March 9 at the 21c Library. I have been dedicated to helping mothers and children thrive in environments where corporate greed is prioritized over public health, and hosting this documentary was a great way to bring more community members into a place of awareness and empowerment.

Hosting a screening of the documentary ‘Milk’ by Noemi Weiss.

I planned to attend the Sierra Club’s monthly “Beyond Coal” meeting for the first time, but it had been moved and I wasn’t in-the-know; I’ll check back in for a future meeting!

Now that the campaign is registered and official with the state, I took the next obvious step and opened a campaign bank account. This was no easy task, and took over 3.5 hours across two days, but the conversations I had with bank staff about local politics and the importance of having representatives that are more “like us”, were invaluable.

Already meeting such great people 🙂

I attended, for the third time, the Air Quality Technical Committee (AQTC) meeting at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and spoke as a representative of our community. This group is tasked with providing recommendations and technical plans to the Community Advisory Board, which reports to the City Council.

The AQTC disbanded a couple years ago because, and I quote, “they thought they had the issue of air quality covered here when they were meeting the federal standards.” When the person in charge of the committee resigned their position, the group just ceased to exist. Fast forward only one year later, and we are registering poor air quality readings that may lead to violating federal EPA standards and incurring a huge fine … not to mention the subsequent public health effects from increasingly more dangerous pollutants in our air.

It may go without saying that the lack of focus on public health around here is distressing.

If you’d like to read a version of my statement from the AQTC meeting, it can be found here:

At the end of the month, I was moved to tears by the powerful and inspiring indigenous activist and performer, Radmilla Cody. Her words moved the ancient memories held within my ancestral genes – we must protect our mother, and all mothers. Water is life.

As for our family, we rented a large van, picked up my brother’s family of four, and road-tripped to Kansas to visit our extended family. It was a long drive, but well worth the bonding time and chance to cultivate our own family traditions.

It was also a birthday month around here, Happy 1st Birthday to our littlest one!

Happy Spring!