A 2019 bill that allows Colorado judges to block people who pose a ‘significant risk’ to themselves or others from being passed by the state legislature without a single Republican vote in favor .
The so-called ‘Red Flag’ law was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, marking one of the most significant gun reform measures passed by state lawmakers in the years following a mass shooting. in 2012 at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 and injured. 70 others.
But the county sheriff’s office where a fatal shooting at an LGBT+ club this week left five people dead, officers didn’t once use the law.
The shooting inside the Aurora Theater during a screening of The dark knight rises remains the state’s deadliest mass shooting since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, when two students killed 12 students and a teacher.
But the 2019 law faced overwhelming opposition not just from GOP lawmakers but also from sheriff’s offices across the state — including in El Paso County, where five people were fatally shot. and 18 others were injured at an LGBT+ club in Colorado Springs on November 19.
A year earlier, the suspect accused of immediately opening fire on the club that night was arrested on charges of felony threat and kidnapping, which were later dropped.
Not only did the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office not seek an order to seize the firearms from suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, but the county never initiated a seizure.
Since the law took effect in 2020, the bureau has never sought or initiated a judge’s order to temporarily seize a firearm from someone deemed to pose a significant risk to themselves or to others. others.
Sergeant Jason Garrett, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said The Colorado Sun Wednesday that the agency never applied for an Extreme Risk Protection Order — or ERPO — as required by the 2019 law.
Under the law, a judge can issue an ERPO if an applicant – including law enforcement – can demonstrate that a person “presents a significant risk of harm to themselves or others by having in their custody or under his control of a firearm or by purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm.
Data reviewed by The Colorado Sun found that the state has received nearly 300 requests for temporary ERPO foreclosures and nearly 100 requests for extended orders statewide since the law took effect.
The majority of requests came from law enforcement.
Following the law’s passage, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a resolution formally opposing the red flag measure.
The commissioners pledged to ‘actively resist’ the legislation, pledged to ‘take legal action if necessary’ and invited ‘all like-minded counties’ to join the county’s opposition, according to the resolution. .
The commissioners also pledged against the appropriation of “any funds or resources to initiate unconstitutional seizures” and pledged to work with El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who has personally opposed the law. .
Sheriff Elder issued more than 45,500 concealed carry permits to citizens and retired peace officers, according to the county, which noted the sheriff issued more permits “than any other sheriff in the state.” .
More than half of Colorado’s counties have drafted similar “Second Amendment preservation” resolutions.
In 2019, Sheriff Elder said he opposed the law because “we’re going to take personal property away from people without having due process”.
“The sheriff’s office is not going to rush in and try to get a court order,” he told local NBC affiliate KOAA News.
It’s unclear whether Aldrich’s 2021 case would have been eligible for an extreme risk protection order, which likely would have expired at the time of the Club Q shooting.
In June 2021, his office arrested Aldrich for felony threats and kidnapping after a woman reported that someone she said was her son “threatened to harm him with a pipe bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition.” .
According The Colorado Springs Gazette, the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office decided not to press formal charges. The case was then sealed.
“There is absolutely nothing to it, the case has been dropped and I ask that you either delete or update the story,” Aldrich said in a voicemail message left for an editor at The Gazette. in August, according to the Associated Press. “The whole case has been thrown out.”
A lack of cooperation from witnesses has prevented prosecutions, according to law enforcement officials speaking to The New York Times. Officials have repeatedly refused to publicly discuss the matter.
“These laws were put on the books exactly to address dangerous behaviors that are often precursors to larger violent events,” Shannon Frattaroli, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, told Reuters.
“Threatening to blow up your mother or the neighborhood where the most reasonable people would agree is a signal that intervention is needed,” she said.
The Independent Gt