AUGUSTA — The Maine Legislature ultimately never voted on a proposed red flag law that would give family members, in addition to law enforcement, a path toward restricting access to weapons for a person in crisis without a mental health evaluation.

The bill, L.D. 2283, was introduced late in the legislative session in response to calls for stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the October mass shooting in Lewiston that left 18 people dead and 13 injured. It had been scheduled for debate and a vote as the Legislature worked through a final list of bills before its adjournment Wednesday night, but the bill never made it that far.

The Senate did vote to give final approval to two other firearms bills, L.D. 2086, which would ban bump stocks and other rapid-fire devices, and L.D. 2238, which puts in place a 72-hour waiting period for most gun purchases.

The bump stock measure, which also would require the destruction of firearms forfeited after being used in crimes, passed the Senate 19-15 while the waiting period passed 18-17.

Spokespeople for Gov. Janet Mills did not respond to a phone message or emails Wednesday asking if she plans to sign those bills.

Twenty-one states have red flag laws, while Maine is the only state with a yellow flag law. The Legislature rejected a red flag proposal in 2019, but the Lewiston shooting, in which family members had alerted police to concerns about gunman Robert Card’s mental health and access to weapons, renewed calls for such a measure.


The yellow flag law requires law enforcement to take someone into protective custody and have a mental health evaluation done before a court can sign off on an order restricting their access to weapons because they pose a threat to themselves or someone else.

The red flag proposal doesn’t require a mental health evaluation, but family members or police must submit a petition and an affidavit detailing their concerns about the person’s access to weapons.

L.D. 2224, a bill from Gov. Janet Mills, seeks to make updates to the yellow flag law by making it easier for law enforcement to take someone into protective custody by applying for a protective custody warrant. The House gave final approval to that bill Monday, while the Senate has given initial approval and forwarded the bill to the appropriations table for funding.

At a public hearing this month, proponents of the red flag law said Maine’s current law is too cumbersome and time-consuming to be effective when a person poses a threat to themselves or others, and that families, in addition to police, should be able to initiate the process for restricting weapons access.

They also criticized the current process for linking mental illness to violent behavior and said it can be stigmatizing for those with mental illness.

Opponents criticized the proposal for removing due process and infringing on Second Amendment rights. They argued that the mass shooting in Lewiston in October could have been prevented if police had used the existing yellow flag law to remove the shooter’s weapons.

This story will be updated.

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