Last year’s “red flag” bill never received a final vote, but a new bill, LD 1312, has just been introduced. Red flag bills reduce gun-related suicides and domestic violence homicides by temporarily suspending access to firearms for people who are a danger to themselves or others. Join the Maine Gun Safety Coalition and Moms Demand Action at the State House for their Advocacy Day on Tuesday March 19 from 9am to 3pm and help build support for LD 1312.
Last year, in response to the Parkland school shooting, Maine legislators introduced LD 1884, a “Red Flag” bill. The bill never received a final vote, but now a new and improved LD 1312: An Act Regarding Access to Firearms by Extremely Dangerous and Suicidal Individuals has been introduced. Like the Parkland shooter, many of those who commit suicide or homicide with a gun exhibit signs of their intentions, or “red flags”. Red Flag laws empower family members and law enforcement to act on these warning signs by authorizing judges to temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms with an Extreme Risk Protection Order when it has been proved that the person poses a danger of causing personal injury to themselves or another person. When a judge grants the protection order, the individual’s firearms are removed for 14 days. After a full-party hearing, the order can be extended for an additional 365 days if necessary. Unlike other states’ red flag bills, LD 1312 provides counsel to the subjects of protection orders, so that they can challenge the merits of the petition at the full-party hearing and seek assistance in obtaining mental health services. It also requires family members filing a petition for a protective order to be explicitly informed that making false claims against an individual is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders are primarily sought by family members seeking to prevent a suicide. While mass shootings and gun homicides command media attention, the majority of gun deaths in America (more than 21,000 a year) are firearms suicides. Maine’s suicide rate is higher than the national average, and is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-34. About half of our state’s suicide deaths are committed with guns. The difference between suicide attempts made with guns and by other means is stark. 90% of people who attempt suicide by other means survive. By contrast, 90% of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal. Temporarily removing firearms from a person in crisis can prevent tragedies. Following Connecticut’s increased enforcement of its Red Flag law, the law was associated with a 14% reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate.
Join the Maine Gun Safety Coalition and Maine Moms Demand Action for their Advocacy Day on Tuesday March 19 at the State House from 9am to 3pm. You’ll learn more about LD 1312 and visit with legislators to help build support for it. Can’t attend Advocacy Day? Email your reps and ask them to support the Red Flag bill. Not sure who your legislators are? Find them and their contact information here.