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Could Red-Flag Law Have Prevented Colorado Springs Massacre?

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Seven years after his son, Alex, was killed in a mass shooting at an Aurora, Co., theater, Colorado Rep. Tom Sullivan helped enact a red-flag law. The 2019 measure allows a person’s relatives or law enforcement officers to ask a court to make people deemed to be dangerous give up their guns. As Colorado reels from a mass shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs, where five people were killed and 18 more injured, it again became clear that for the laws to work, they must be used, reports the New York Times. “Someone could’ve done something beforehand so that guy never had that firepower,” said Sullivan about the latest shooting. “Therein lies the problem.”

The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, last year was arrested after a report of a bomb threat “It makes me question why we pass laws in the first place, if the powers that be won’t enforce them,” said John Loveall, whose son, Jerecho, was wounded Saturday at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Red-flag laws and the extreme risk protection orders they authorize have been a legislative priority for Democrats, and occasionally Republicans. Supporters say the measures provide a way to ensure that people in crisis lack access to guns they might use to harm themselves or others. Even the most fervent defenders of the laws, on the books in some form in 19 states, agree that they are not a panacea. In Indiana, the police seized a shotgun in 2020 from the home of a man whose mother had raised alarms about his mental state. Prosecutors did not invoke a red-flag law that could have prevented him from purchasing more guns. A few months later, he bought rifles he used in 2021 to kill eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. There have been 211 filings for red-flag orders in Colorado over two fiscal years, which run from July through June. An Associated Press analysis found that Colorado has not been issuing the orders as often as other states with red-flag laws do.

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