The deadly shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs has prompted questions this Thanksgiving week about Colorado's "red flag" law, and when it should be enacted.
CBS News Colorado took a closer look at state court data, discovering in El Paso County — the county where Colorado Springs is located — judges have denied 38 temporary and year-long petitions to take guns away from potentially dangerous people since the red flag law went into effect in 2020. That's more than any other county in the state, the data reveals.
The law allows anyone to put forward petitions called risk protection orders against people they believe may be too dangerous to own firearms. Both law enforcement and loved ones can file those petitions in court.
State court data shows El Paso County courts deny far more risk protection orders than they grant.
Since January 2020, El Paso County courts have denied 24 temporary risk protection order petitions and only granted 14.
They've denied 14 extreme risk protection order petitions, which last for a year, and only granted eight.
In Boulder County, where a mass shooting took place a year ago at a King Sooper's grocery store, no temporary risk protection orders have been denied since 2020, and only one year-long ERPO petition was denied. Two other top denying counties in the state were Denver and Arapahoe county courts, which have granted more than denied.
Denver courts denied 11 ERPO petitions and granted 76, while Arapahoe County courts have denied five ERPO petitions and granted seven.
"These extreme risk protection orders have the ability to take people's rights away from them, and those hearings are important, and we have to trust in the fact that the judges are looking at these, they're going through the specific merits of each case," Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown said.
Brown says ERPOs can be a life-saving tool in certain circumstances.
"I think when somebody poses a risk to themselves or somebody else, the likelihood of successfully harming somebody increases exponentially when you involve a firearm, and if we have a tool in our tool belt that allows us to protect an individual from themselves and protect the surrounding community, we should have the opportunity to be able to use it," Brown said.
He says it's important for loved ones to speak up if they know of someone who may be a risk to others.
"We had one where it was a spouse who came forward and petitioned the court... and he was in court and recognized that there was something going on that that needed to happen," Brown said. "Family members have the most intimate knowledge of what's going on in somebody's day-to-day life and it only makes sense that they will be the ones that would petition the court for that extreme risk protection order."
CBS News Colorado reached out to El Paso County courts, the El Paso County District Attorney's Office, and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for comment, but we have not received a response.
However, the El Paso County Sheriff has been vocal in the past against Colorado's red flag law.
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