Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper admitted that he doesn’t “have any real facts” about how the Club Q shooter was able to get past the state’s red flag laws and acquire a firearm, but still insists there should be “a new and higher level” of precautions.
On Monday’s “CNN Tonight,” host Alisyn Camerota prompted, “Senator, explain why Colorado’s red flag laws didn’t stop someone like that from having guns.”
“Well, I don’t have any real facts,” he began. But rest assured, the senator wouldn’t let that stop him from making wide-sweeping assertions about the case.
“I was told this morning that the sheriff down in Colorado Springs said that — right when the red [flag] law was passed — that he wouldn’t enforce it. They’ve had the lowest level of enforcement of any community in the state. But that just calls into question, how do we get these laws to work? It’s one thing to get them passed. But the communities have to believe in them. They have to embrace them. And it should not be a political dividing line. We are way past the point where we can tolerate this kind of — this political malfeasance, people making a political issue out of something that cost the lives of people just out enjoying a Saturday night.”
The state’s red flag law, known as the “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” was passed by the state legislature in 2019. The bill passed but not without protest. At the time the bill was signed into law, more than half of the state’s counties had expressed their opposition to the policy, and many of them had passed resolutions against the new law. Several counties had declared themselves “sanctuaries” for the 2nd Amendment, and many sheriffs across the state pledged that they would not be enforcing the stricture.
A year and a half before his attack on the Colorado Springs club, the assailant allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb that forced neighbors to evacuate their homes while a bomb squad searched the premises. Despite this, there is no record of prosecutors taking further action against the suspect. Nor did police or family members move to enact the ‘red flag’ law on him. There’s no evidence that such an action would have prevented his nightclub shooting in 2022, however, the failure to prevent his violence could possibly be attributed to incompetence or an unwillingness to enforce the law. Instead, Sen. Hickenlooper thinks a stricter level of law is required.
Later, Camerota asked, “I mean, one of the problems — and I think we saw this in the Highland Park shooting case, as well, in Illinois — is that if it relies on the family to press charges, if it relies on the family to say that this person needs to go to prison, it doesn’t work. And so, Senator, what’s the solution for protecting this community in your state?”
“I think that we have to set a new and higher level for red flag laws, where you have to have some institutional framework by which the community can — if someone has clearly demonstrated that they are liable to go off the rails…we have to make sure people like that don’t have access to guns, and if they do have guns, we take them away,” Hickenlooper replied.
During the interview, Hickenlooper continued to assign motive to the shooter in disregard of the fact that no motive has been made clear yet and scapegoated right-wing lawmakers in the process.
“Senator, when a congresswoman, like Lauren Boebert of your state tweets out misinformation, as she has done about this community, she relies on that meme – if that’s right word – of kids being groomed, et cetera. What effect does that have?” Camerota asked.
“Again. It is hard to explain why she does this. Whether it is a function of getting attention. Or getting her measure of celebrity. But it certainly is hurtful and there can be no doubt that it fans the flames of hatred of people who are, in many cases, desperate about other things in their lives,” he replied.
“They’ve got mental health issues. And they twist off into violence. Many times it is not the first time they twisted off into violence. But sometimes that fuse gets lit. By hate speech and bigotry,” Hickenlooper claimed.
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