After Colorado Springs mass shooting, Gov. Polis considers changes to strengthen 'red flag' law

The governor said Sunday the response to the killings needs to be "national."

November 27, 2022, 4:11 PM

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Sunday that he is considering reforms to his state's "red flag" law after this month's mass shooting in Colorado Springs at Club Q, an LGBTQ venue.

The alleged shooter's access to an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle has been thrust into the spotlight after it was revealed that the suspect, who is 22, was arrested last year and accused of threatening their mother with explosives.

Still, the state's red flag law, which allows for family or law enforcement to petition a judge to revoke an individual's access to firearms, was not used, Polis said.

"We're certainly going to take a hard look at why [the] red flag law wasn't used … what can be used to better publicize, make available, add different parties to make sure that it's used when it should be used," Polis said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The governor, a Democrat, defended the legislation, which some conservatives have criticized as ineffective and vulnerable to abuse by the government.

"That law was successfully used several 100 times. And I know that it's prevented self-harm and violence in our state. And we need to make sure more people are aware of what it can do," Polis added on CNN's "State of the Union."

Among the changes being considered is expanding who can petition a judge under the law, Polis said.

"What I think we're going to look at in Colorado is potentially expanding that, for instance, so [district attorneys] can also seek extreme risk protection orders," Polis said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

He said that in last year's case, involving the suspect's mother, neither she nor the local sheriff pursued an order under the red flag law.

PHOTO: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis attends an election watch party Nov. 8, 2022, in Denver.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis attends an election watch party Nov. 8, 2022, in Denver.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The suspect in the Nov. 19 shooting, which killed 5 people at the LGBTQ club and injured many others, legally purchased the rifle before the attack, authorities have said.

Patrons of the club tackled the suspected shooter before law enforcement arrived.

Appearing on "Face the Nation," Polis said there had been some media reports that one of the suspect's firearms was a so-called "ghost gun," referring to privately made weapons that aren't tracked by a serial number.

"All of these facts will emerge in the coming days and weeks. Obviously, right now our heart is with the victims, five people who lost their lives, their families, dozens of others injured and, of course, many traumatized," Polis said.

The suspect is facing five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, which is Colorado's hate crime law. The suspect has not yet entered a plea.

The mass shooting has reignited calls for stricter gun laws, including President Joe Biden's push for what he called an assault weapons ban, which faces an uphill climb in gaining the necessary support to pass through Congress.

Polis said Sunday that the response to the shooting needs to be "national," noting fewer laws in neighboring states, and indicated he's open to measures beyond gun legislation.

"Of course it's about mental health. Of course it's about gun policy. Of course it's about anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. It's about all these things," he said on "Meet the Press."

Asked directly on "Face the Nation" if he would back Biden's latest call for a ban, Polis said there needed to be a wide-ranging discussion -- on mental health, discrimination, red flag and ghost gun laws and more.

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