Maine Red-Flag Bill Advanced For Floor Vote

by Vern Evans
maine state house capital
Maine State House (Bigstock)

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A legislative committee in Maine has approved the restrictive “red-flag” measure, sending the bill to both the House and Senate floors for an upcoming vote.

Despite testimony by many against the measure, including an impassioned plea to kill the bill by the sister of a victim of last fall’s mass murder in Lewiston, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed LD 2283 on a 6-to-5 vote, with three members absent.

Maine currently has a “yellow-flag” law that was passed with input from pro-gun groups to try to protect the due process rights of gun owners. But last year’s shooting in Lewiston spawned Democrats in the legislature to push a more restrictive measure this year that allows the government to strip an individual’s Second Amendment right with no due process and ignores the independent commission’s findings that the Lewiston tragedy should have been stopped by the current law had it been enforced.

In reality, Maine’s “yellow flag” law currently in effect provided everything needed to stop the Lewiston shooter, as he had been reported to authorities many times by several individuals leading up to the tragedy. The fact that he wasn’t stopped wasn’t the fault of the current law, but more the fault of politicians who refuse to fund police enough for such purposes.

During testimony at the public hearing, held during a blizzard that kept many from being able to attend, Jill Walker, a licensed clinical social worker whose brother Jason was killed during the mass shooting, spoke out against the bill and said the legislature was acting “nefariously” in trying to push through the measure at the last minute.

“I am disturbed that some members of the Maine Legislature have seized the opportunity to nefariously use the Oct. 25 tragedy for a political end,” Walker said during the Judiciary Committee hearing. “It’s my personal opinion that this was rushed.”

Walker further told the committee that the state’s current law is sufficient to stop such tragedies if used correctly.

Mental health advocates, on the other hand, lent their full-fledged support for the red-flag measure. David Moltz, a psychiatrist from Portland speaking on behalf of the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians, testified in favor of the bill.

“Certainly, a majority of homicides are done not by people with mental illness, but by people in some kind of crisis, or are just angry,” Moltz said.

How the measure will fare on the House and Senate floor is anybody’s guess, as two Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted against it and some other Democrats in the state legislature aren’t in favor of the bill. Gun Owners of Maine, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the National Rifle Association have been fighting the bill at every turn and will continue the battle until the measure is either killed or approved and sent to Gov. Janet Mills for her consideration.

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