June 25, 2024


Law for politics

Maine’s ‘yellow flag’ law could be a model for gun control, but legal experts say it has limitations


A Maine legislation has been explained as a likely nationwide product for trying to keep guns out of the arms of harmful or suicidal persons. But the state’s so-referred to as yellow flag regulation has only been utilized two dozen moments in two many years, and prosecutors say the law has both of those advantages and constraints.

In September of 2020, sheriffs deputies responded to a prospective “suicide-by-cop” condition near Bangor involving an armed male in psychological health disaster. Relatively than demand him criminally for the standoff, police and Penobscot County District Legal professional Marianne Lynch made use of a brand name new legislation to quickly prohibit the gentleman from possessing guns.

“So they were capable to make use of it successfully in that case so alternatively than cost him — and they had been perfectly entitled to cost him mainly because you cannot stage a gun even at legislation enforcement and threaten them — we addressed it civilly alternatively than punishing him,” Lynch reported.

Maine’s yellow flag regulation has been invoked 24 situations considering the fact that 2020 to quickly eliminate guns from persons considered to pose a menace to them selves or some others. As opposed to the red flag rules that are in impact in around 20 states, Maine’s yellow flag legislation does not allow for loved ones members to instantly petition a judge to get an individual to temporarily give up their guns and prohibit them from buying new firearms. Only law enforcement can situation a request.

And Maine’s regulation goes a move additional by requiring a clinical assessment of the person right before the petition goes to a judge.

“We can do this and nonetheless have because of system,” reported David Trahan, who is government director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine, a main player in gun rights and gun basic safety problems in Augusta.

“They have the suitable to counsel,” Trahan reported. “They use the term apparent and convincing proof. And it is really not based on a grievance, it is primarily based on the individual’s true steps in the eyes of law enforcement officers and medical experts.”

It was the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s endorsement that aided move the yellow flag legislation in 2019 just two times immediately after rural Democrats and Republicans rejected a crimson flag proposal citing “thanks method” issues.

Trahan also experienced the ear of Republican Sen. Susan Collins this thirty day period as she negotiated the very first big gun safety invoice to move Congress in many years. The law won’t impose a federal pink or yellow flag typical but, instead, give states federal grants to support craft their individual versions.

“It is identified as sovereignty, point out sovereignty,” he stated. “I consider a lot of people would like to see the feds just acquire it around. But just about every condition is going to be distinct.”

Trahan predicts other conservative or gun-helpful states will stick to Maine’s yellow-flag guide. And he states the long-delayed addition of a telemedicine possibility for health-related evaluations will probably consequence in far more Maine police using the state’s yellow flag law.

But Margaret Groban, who a short while ago retired right after more than 30 a long time as a federal prosecutor, said Maine’s legislation lacks crucial protections.

“I respect that compromise is critical but I believe a yellow flag legislation misses a number of options that can make folks safer,” said Groban, who teaches firearms regulation at the University of Maine School of Regulation.

Groban mentioned crimson flag legislation permit loved ones members to specifically petition a court. She extra which is important since some family members fear that involving police could consequence in legal charges remaining brought versus a loved 1 in psychological distress. And she dismissed problems that lawful gun owners could reduce their firearms centered on trumped-up pink flag petitions filed by ex-spouses or estranged spouse and children. That is illegal, she stated, and courts are perfectly-versed at ferreting out fake statements.

Still, Groban included, a yellow flag regulation is superior than absolutely nothing.

“I imagine it has been employed 20 or a thing situations since it has passed,” Groban said. “So these 20 circumstances may well have saved someone from suicide or doing damage to some others, and that is a wonderful point. But it could be even much better.”

Just one of all those life was the suicidal gentleman associated in the September 2020 standoff in Penobscot County. 6 months right after the initial incident, the male seasoned a mental wellbeing breakdown and obtained in one more armed standoff with law enforcement.

District Attorney Marianne Lynch explained the circumstance illustrates that the yellow flag law won’t demand a particular person to obtain procedure for the issues that led to them getting rid of their guns. And she says it displays that even when guns are taken absent, they can be nonetheless be borrowed or stolen from good friends or family, or purchased privately without having a track record test beneath Maine’s gun rules.

“It helps make it unlawful for the man or woman, but it won’t make it unattainable for them to get it,” Lynch reported.

The 2nd standoff ended peacefully. But although he avoided criminal penalties the initially time, the gentleman now faces felony prices for violating the yellow flag buy.


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