A proposal for a red flag law that more than 20 states have adopted failed in 2019 in favor of the yellow flag law that backers said would stop suicides and protect both the public and the constitutional rights of gun owners.
The yellow flag law had the support of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, which was instrumental in writing it and viewed other states’ red flag laws as unconstitutional. Some also saw the suicide rate as a far bigger concern in Maine than mass shootings.
Under it, law enforcement can detain someone they suspect is mentally ill and poses a threat to themselves or others.
The law differs from red flag laws in that it requires police first to get a medical practitioner to evaluate the person and find them to be a threat before police can petition a judge to order the person’s firearms to be seized.
Gun-control advocates had criticized the law as ham-handed and unlikely to be used by families who don’t want to traumatize a loved one by having them taken into custody.
Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she thinks a ban on high-capacity magazines is the best approach to stop this kind of gun violence. She also said at a news conference that from what she has heard, the yellow flag law should have been enforced.
“The fact, the suspect was hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness should have triggered the yellow flag law. He should have been separated from his weapons,” Collins said at a news conference Thursday in Lewiston. “I’m sure that after the fact, that it’s going to be looked at very closely.”
But the limited details released by police don’t make it clear whether the yellow flag law should have stopped the suspect in the Lewiston shootings or where he got any guns he used.