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New El Paso County Sheriff views potential for new gun laws as a challenge as he takes office

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tuesday, Joe Roybal became the 29th Sheriff of El Paso County. 13 Investigates spoke with him after his swearing-in ceremony about his biggest challenges as he takes the department's highest elected office.

Roybal said he expects new gun laws to come down the pipeline, many of which are potentially inspired by the Club Q shooting.

"Right out of the gate is going to be legislation because of the Club Q Tragedy. The spotlight is on weapons. It's on specifically assault rifles as they're categorized in mass shootings," Sheriff Roybal said.

Although he expects challenges, Roybal told 13 Investigates he looks forward to finding pragmatic solutions to a complex problem in partnership with our elected state representatives and senators.

"It is my job to work with legislatures, lawmakers to keep the community safe and protecting those constitutional rights. I believe we can strike a balance and I hope level heads come together to solve that problem, to keep our communities safe," Roybal said.

13 Investigates asked the newly elected Sheriff if he has concerns about state laws overriding key provisions in the 2nd Amendment at the federal level.

"I think that potential exists. Like I said, it's up to lawmakers and law enforcement to come together to strike that balance," Sheriff Roybal said. "One thing is clear. All of us, whether it's the citizens, lawmakers or law enforcement, and elected officials, we want our community safe. We want to keep our citizens safe, so it's up to us to come together and find that balance to ensure we do that."

The 2023 Legislative Session began Monday, and so far, a gun bill hasn't been introduced.

However, newly appointed House Speaker Julie McCluskie (D-Dillion) offered her thoughts Monday on what gun reforms are needed.  

"Our efforts to reduce gun violence this session will focus on expanding how and when a red flag petition can be filed so that more key moments can be acted upon to interrupt potential acts of violence," McCluskie said. "Furthermore, we will increase waiting periods and the age limits to purchase a firearm."

Since the Club Q mass shooting, which claimed the lives of five people, there have been questions on whether or not the El Paso County Sheriff's Office could've done more to take away the ability of the suspect to legally purchase a firearm.

In June 2021, the suspect was arrested after a supposed bomb threat in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood in El Paso County. He faced five felony charges, however, the case against the suspect never continued.

In that case, Colorado's Red Flag Law came into the spotlight. As the red flag law stands now, law enforcement officers and "loved ones" can petition a judge for what's known as an extreme risk protection order, which allows the confiscation of guns for at least 14 days and can last an entire year.

Many have wondered why an Extreme Risk Protection Order, also known as Colorado's Red Flag Law, was never used on Aldrich.

Outgoing Sheriff Bill Elder commended his agency's response to Aldrich stating they took guns away from him and never returned them even past the day of his prior case being dismissed in a court of law. He added that a criminal protection order, barring him from possessing weapons, was also in place for over a year after the arrest.

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Sean Rice

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


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