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Gov. Polis tells 13 Investigates El Paso Co. Sheriff Elder’s stance on red flag law is ‘worrisome’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tuesday, Colorado's Governor Jared Polis visited the Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub where, just over a week ago, a gunman opened fire, killing five people and injuring dozens of others.

Polis said he felt it was necessary to visit Club Q to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

Ahead of his stop in Colorado Springs, Polis told NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend that he's considering reformers to the state's red flag law.

"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.

Colorado's Red Flag laws have been at the center of the conversation around the Club Q mass shooting, with questions on whether or not it could've prevented the accused killer from legally owning a firearm.

Statewide, the law allows a family member, friend, or law enforcement officer to ask the court to take guns away from someone who is considered a threat to themselves or others.

The 22-year-old suspect had previously been taken into custody by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for a bomb threat in 2021. He faced five felony charges after he was accused of threatening his mother and grandparents with explosives. However, he was never prosecuted in the case.

In El Paso County, however, Sheriff Bill Elder told KRDO in 2019 that he would not be using the state law and would "never" petition the court to take someone's guns away.

While visiting Club Q, 13 Investigates asked Polis about Elder's stance on the red flag law.

"Well, that's worrisome, to rule it out under any circumstances. Again I think just as you might argue it's premature without knowing all the facts about whether it should have been invoked here, and that's fair. You know, we know an approximation of the facts and it looks like perhaps it should have been used. To rule it out categorically is very dangerous," said Polis.

The governor went on to say when someone is having a mental health crisis, it's important to "temporarily remove access to weapons for both reducing the likelihood of a suicide as well as of a crime."

13 Investigates has reached out to Elder and his office multiple times for comment on Colorado's red flag laws. We have yet to hear back.

El Paso County Rep. Tony Exum, who sponsored the red flag law, told 13 Investigates that he's disappointed in the sheriff's stance on enforcing an extreme risk protection order.

He believes Elder is violating his oath of office.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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