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On its face, Maine’s “yellow flag” law, enacted in 2019, could have made a crucial difference in this case. It authorizes police, after taking someone into “protective custody” based on probable cause to believe he is “mentally ill” and poses a threat to himself or others, to ask a “medical practitioner” for an assessment of whether the detainee “presents a likelihood of foreseeable harm.” …

Gun control activists complained that Maine’s “yellow flag” law is harder to use than the “red flag” laws that 21 states have enacted, which have fewer and weaker procedural protections. That criticism seems doubly misguided.

First, this looks like a situation where Maine’s law could have been used but for some reason was not. Second, the state’s requirements are aimed at minimizing the number of people who lose their Second Amendment rights for no good reason.

Weaker protections for respondents might make effective intervention more likely. Or they might not.

Despite what in retrospect looks like clear warning signs, New York’s “red flag” law did not prevent the massacre that killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket in 2022. Nor did California’s “red flag” law prevent two mass shootings that killed 18 people in that state last January.

One thing is clear: Casting a wider net inevitably means that more people will be deprived of their constitutional rights even when they do not actually pose a threat to public safety. That is true not only of “red flag” laws but also of the federal ban on gun possession by people who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions, which applies no matter how long ago that happened and regardless of whether they were ever deemed a threat to others.

— Jacob Sullum in Don’t Blame the Maine Shootings on ‘Woefully Weak’ Gun Laws

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35 COMMENTS

  1. Passing laws you don’t intended to enforce is what a tyrant does. Also in general, we are increasingly not willing to hold criminal activity accountable.

    • Oh they intend to enforce them they just want a whole bunch of other laws to help paint undesirable law abiding types into a corner where there are no legal choices first.

    • Oh, they get enforced.
      Selectively. When convenient. Against enemies.

      From 9/11 to October 7. From Columbine to Lewiston. Consistent failures of the system we are to trust to recognize threats and take action or events that were allowed to take place?

      Either is unacceptable just as the common response of restricting even more liberty from all of us is unacceptable.

      Thanks to COVID response, the anti-policing/bail reform and now the Bridgeport, CT ballot stuffing ruling pulling all election shenanigans out of the shadows of conspiracy and into the light of reality the 2020’s should be the decade that trust and faith in any system finally dies.

      Whatever the system it is either inept or malicious and deserves no trust or faith.

  2. The victims were disarmed by the people they were paying for a nice place to play. .

    Sound familiar?

    The payees said they wanted a family atmosphere, so “No guns.’

    WTF? How is being helpless to any disgruntled turd that comes thru the door “family atmosphere”?

  3. This may seem frivolous to some, but, I quote:

    “minimizing the number of people who lose their Second Amendment rights for no good reason.”

    Parse that as “there is no reason to minimize the number of people who lose their 2A rights”.

    Or, parse that as “people who lose their 2A rights without good reason”.

    Just play around with parsing, and no matter how you read it, dem/progressive/liberal people will be right on board. Their goal is to get rid of guns, and to impose a police state.

    Which is weird, since they refuse to enforce existing laws.

    • They refuse to enforce existing laws. Not weird at all, when you consider it’s all a part of the plan for the Transformative Society. That Obama spoke fondly of on numerous occasions. Remaking society in the Liberal/Progressive image. A course of action taken over 50 years ago. By infiltrating the former public education system and thus raising/indoctrinating 5 generations of acolytes to their ideology. We are witnessing the results of those efforts on college/university campuses all across the nation. Much in the same vein as radical Islam and their hated of other faiths, wishing them destroyed. Liberalism considers anyone not believing in the their religion (Liberalism), an enemy to be hated and destroyed. If possible. Anyone injured, killed, or has their life ruined. Is nothing more than collateral damage. Justified losses if the ideology is in control. Just like with what is happening in Gaza. The Palestinians mean nothing more to Hamas/Hezbollah, than human shields, foot soldiers and cannon fodder, as a means to an end. The Liberal/Progressive leadership has it’s acolytes and the criminal element, their lack of enforcing laws is creating for their foot soldiers and cannon fodder. Once their usefulness is no longer needed. They too will be nothing more than collateral damage. As a means to an End

  4. All that yellow dog stuff is fine so long is it is not abused, but the LAST line of defense was the guy who heard the first shot & then saw the killer look down at his gun for what he estimated as 40 seconds from 30 feet away (possible malfunction). He had the opportunity, but lacked the tool & probably the skill, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-21uuFsvMU

    • The bowling alley was a ‘gun free zone’, and no one was allowed to be legally armed. There were people who normally carried that were there but because of the ‘gun free zone’ these law abiding people complied and were disarmed as the law guaranteed defenseless prey for this mentally ill animal.

      One guy tried to stop the shooter, all he could get hold of was a knife and unfortunately going up against a mentally ill shooter with a knife doesn’t work out too well. He was willing to do it with a knife, had he been armed he would have used his gun and he and others would have had a really good chance of being alive today.

  5. Keep something in mind with Maine’s yellow flag law. It is easier to involuntarily commit someone than it is to temporarily seize their firearms.

    The problem with Maine’s law is that it requires law enforcement to have taken the person in question into custody before they can seize the firearm. So, let’s say you get a report like this where people are saying this guy is going to shoot up a place, you reach the person’s home but they are not there, you are not allowed to enter the premise and seize the firearms until you have the person in custody. That is just stupid.

    • No it’s not.
      You just cant go kicking in doors and taking sht because the neighbors said Craptacular is nuts.
      WTF man?

      • Way down this country road in a holler
        Where they make that moonshine still
        Theres an old man on a porch on a shack
        And the shack is where he lives
        Round the town they call him Pa
        Its Pa from on the hill
        And every time Pa does slay a hog
        You can hear that Hoggy Squeal
        I’m from the belly of the Bible Belt
        That motherfckn’ preacher daughters son
        Where you cant find no woman, no man
        No cousin, no friend without a gun.
        Mathematics

  6. Article 1, Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, first signed into law in 1967, states that someone who, as a result mental illness, presents a danger to themselves or others, or who is gravely disabled by their mental illness, can be detained for 72 hours for evaluation in a psychiatric facility by peace officers, registered nurses, doctors, or other appropriate health professionals. Most states have similar legislation. And there have been no reported issues with using this particular code. It is not any more difficult to invoke 5150 than a red flag law because you still have to have police involvement, whether that is to take someone to a mental health facility or to seize their firearms. In fact, under 5150, police can take a person into custody immediately without a judicial order, while under a red flag seizure, a temporary order must be issued by a judge before a seizure can be made.

    I note that in this particular case, it seems that the primary reason this guy was not yellow tagged was because the police did not find him. I know of other cases where a person has avoided detention by appearing sane long enough so that the police officer did not assess that person as a danger to himself or others. I would bet that the guy who shot up Vegas would have passed such scrutiny, and that there was no evidence that would have supported a red flag law seizure either.

    • “I know of other cases where a person has avoided detention by appearing sane long enough so that the police officer did not assess that person as a danger to himself or others.”

      So “the insane”, “the mentally ill”, they know exactly what they’re doing. They know how to avoid detection.

      They quickly learn how to play the system.
      Including after they have committed their crimes. Then they will fall back on the insanity defence. And the libertarian’s liberals and the left are who are fools will swallow the bait hole.

      It worked real good with a diminished capacity defense. It worked very well Many years ago in a San Francisco courthouse. Former police officer and former san francisco city supervisor, Dan White murdered the mayor and a fellow city supervisor.

      He did less than three years for murdering two people.

      • Who got rid of insane asylums? ill give you a hint it wasn’t libertarians by any stretch of the imagination…….

      • I’m also referring to places I’m not supposed to carry. As I said before. If I am discovered I accept the consequences.

        If i’m on a “gun free zone” and the bad guy starts shooting. He’s gonna be very surprised. When he starts getting hot lead thrown in his direction.

  7. As a result of their stupidity, the shooter got to kill a bunch of people. Now, the government wants to blame the firearm for the murders. Those that feel that way are delusional. The deaths lie solely at the feet of those who observed the weird behavior and decided to let it pass. The gun is and was, an inanimate object, incapable of doing either good or evil. As always it is the “nut behind the wheel” who determines that someone gets shot.

  8. I’ve been saying this from the start. The police dropped the ball. It just goes to show that all the “gun control” laws in the world just don’t work.

  9. What adsolute bollocks.NOTHING can stop a determined ‘shooter’ with the cash in his or her pocket
    You and I both know that short of incarceration anybody in the USA can probably access their firearm of choice within 24 hours if they have the intent and the cash and no questions asked. Well over half of all Civilan held firearms held in the USA are unregisered and illegal and you know it
    So please tell us how YOU would have prevented this mentally disturbed but intelligent and TRAINED person from obtaining firearms in a country awash with them.

    bythe way I just happened to be tyalking to the LANDLORD of our local PUB last night and he was tell in me that he has no less than EIGHT RIFLES in his possession and all legally nheld and IN THE UK Including one I’d never heard of a 0.177 RIMFIRE He also happens to be a EX-QUEENS RIFLE at BISLEY and still practices his craft

    • Albert L J Hall, there are accounts in in he US where good guys with guns have STOPPED your bad guys. Sorry Ole Boy, but as usual you are absolutely clueless about what goes on here in the States.

      Are you sure you know which end the bullet comes out? Maybe you can tell dacian the DUNDERHEAD, what the firing sequence of a cartridge is?

      It also seems that your spell had gone to hell again. Do try using spell check before sending?

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