DENVER (KDVR) — The man who has confessed to the Fourth of July massacre in Illinois had previous run-ins with the law. But he was still allowed to legally buy firearms, despite that state’s red flag laws.

It seems that even here in Colorado, skirmishes with the law may not prevent a person from owning a gun.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock says Colorado’s laws work, but a person’s past may not always prevent them from buying firearms.

“But how far back do you go? That is part of the discussion between officers, the family and the court,” Spurlock said.

In Illinois, officers labeled the suspected shooter a “clear and present danger” because of previous suicide attempts and threats to kill his family. Still, he was able to get clearance to purchase the guns.

“I’m just so intrigued by the idea that his father, three months after the family was scared for their own lives, would endorse this guy’s ability to buy a firearm,” former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said.

Colorado has brought nearly 200 red flag cases

It’s the reason Rocky Mountain Gun Owners says red flag laws do not work.

“On its face, red flag laws don’t work. This is not about mental health. This is about confiscating firearms from anyone and everyone off the street. None of these things are working. So, why are we going out and trying to enact more gun laws that just don’t work?” RMGO Executive Director Taylor Rhodes said.

One study shows states with red flag laws had significantly lower firearm death rates. Another study found that Connecticut’s law helped prevent suicides.

Still, others say helping stop gun violence starts with family members speaking up when they see a problem.

“We have to be honest as family members and loved ones and with ourselves and say, ‘Johnny is not looking right. He’s not acting right.  The best way to help him is to express my concern,’” said Shawn Worthy, human services counseling professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Expressing that concern, FOX31 was told, could help save lives.

Red flag laws have been used here in Colorado to keep guns away from people in some cases. Nearly 200 such cases have been brought before courts in the state in the past year-and-a-half.