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‘Know the Signs’ could have saved lives in Colorado Springs

Shooter exhibited warning signs, authorities failed to implement Red Flag law

Newtown, Conn. — On Saturday, five people were killed and at least 25 people were injured in a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the latest shooting in what is becoming the deadliest year for mass shootings in history. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the U.S. is averaging more than two mass shootings per day, with more than 600 to date this year.

As the investigation continues, key warning signs have emerged that preceded the attack. About 18 months ago, the alleged shooter reportedly threatened their mother with a bomb, forcing neighbors to evacuate until they could be subdued. Yet, they were not prosecuted and neither police nor their family attempted to utilize the state’s extreme risk protection orders, which could have removed firearms from the shooter’s possession.

“Once again, in the aftermath of yet another horrific mass shooting, we learn too late that an alleged shooter showed warning signs of being at risk of committing violence,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Every person in every community must learn the signs and how to take action to get help. Gun violence is preventable when we ‘Know the Signs’ and speak out.”

Taken individually, warning signs may not directly correlate to a mass shooting, but those exhibited by the Club Q shooter point to someone who was clearly at risk of harming themselves or others. Warning signs offer an opportunity to interrupt violence and must be taken seriously by acting immediately to get help.

“Laws supporting the temporary transfer of firearms can save lives when they are properly implemented,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and father of Daniel who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “But it takes awareness and action by local authorities and community members to make extreme risk protection laws work.”

“It’s also important to note that the shooter used a semi-automatic weapon in the attack, the preferred weapon of mass shooters. What happened in Colorado Springs tells us that we must close the gaps in protections by implementing and strengthening public policy to stop gun violence.”

Proven, evidence-based policies that help prevent mass shootings include:

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Many states offer families the option of temporarily transferring firearms from persons who may be in crisis. Policies like this (aka “red flag,” ERPOs, or Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention laws) help prevent gun violence and suicide while protecting an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights. It is critical that states that have these in place invest in the implementation of these laws, including education for communities about when and how to use these vital, life-safety tools.

Expanded Background Checks

Closing loopholes in our background checks system would help prevent the sale of firearms to individuals who are prohibited from possessing them. This includes those currently sold “stranger-to-stranger” both online and in person.

Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazine Limits

Because there are currently no federal restrictions on the sale of military-style assault rifles nor on the number of rounds they can fire, civilians have been able to purchase these guns to carry out our nation’s deadliest mass shootings. The Sandy Hook shooter fired 154 bullets, killing 20 first-graders and six educators in less than five minutes.

“Gun violence is not inevitable. It is preventable,” said Barden. “Know the signs. Say something. And demand public officials take action now to advance and implement policies that make our schools, homes and communities safer.”


The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund (SHPAF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. 

Media Contact:

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579