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Maine has a 'yellow flag' law meant to reduce gun violence

The law requires certain steps be taken before a weapon can be removed by courts or law enforcement.
Maine has a 'yellow flag' law meant to reduce gun violence
Posted at 4:17 PM, Oct 26, 2023

Robert Card, the 40-year-old Army reservist accused of killing numerous people in mass shootings Maine was reportedly committed to a mental health facility this year. 

Maine State Police said that Card reported "hearing voices" and threatened to carry out a mass shooting. It's the kind of warning signs that red and yellow flag laws are meant to intercept. 

Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute, says policies are only as good as the people behind them. 

"So if the policy isn't being implemented, and it's not being utilized effectively, that's a systems failure issue and a human failure issue," she said. 

Broadly, Red flag laws allow courts to remove or prevent individuals who show signs of being a danger to themselves or others from having access to firearms. 

Maine has what some refer to as a "yellow flag" law — which requires more steps before a weapon can be removed by courts or law enforcement. 

Under the state's yellow flag law, police must get a medical practitioner to carry out an evaluation of the person and deem them a threat before police can request a judge's order to seize the firearm. 

While some view these additional steps as necessary to protect the rights of gun owners, a 2023 Maine Deadly Force Review found the law is "not being used on a regular and responsive basis," often due to a "lack of available medical practitioners."

The Portland Press Herald reports the law has been used 58 times in three years. 

"These are individuals who exhibit considerable warning behaviors that either people know about and don't say anything or people do, and other people don't do anything. It all creates this perfect storm to say, yes, this was preventable."

The deadly shooting in Lewiston, Maine, is one of more than 560 mass shootings in 2023.

SEE MORE: Residents, lawmakers react to Maine mass shooting


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