AUGUSTA – Folks on opposite sides of new gun legislation in Maine went to Augusta on Monday to testify.
One bill — called the “Red Flag” legislation — would allow courts to create an “extreme risk protection order” to temporarily take guns from individuals who pose “an immediate and present danger” to themselves or others.
“I’ll be testifying to an incident that we had in Ellsworth where a young man had threatened, made some credible threats towards our schools,” Police Chief Glenn Moshier said outside the hearing room. “We were able to take that individual into custody but there were some weapons involved and we had no ability, at the time, to seize those weapons.
“So had that young man been able to get out of jail, he would have had access to those, potentially had access to those weapons,” the police chief added. “This legislation is something we feel is needed for law enforcement to be able to seize weapons from people who are a danger to themselves and others.”
Moshier described the bill as a “14-day suspension of their rights to possess those firearms” with rules in place for individuals to petition the courts to get their guns back.
“It’s a tool to save lives in the state of Maine,” said Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.
Others say the bill violates the Constitution.
“These red flag gun confiscating orders are a dangerous encroachment on the fundamental rights of Maine people,” Eric Brakey, a former Maine senator for Auburn. “They would allow government to target individual Maine gun owners who are completely innocent and not suspected of committing any crime, and target them for confiscation of their firearms without any due process of the law.”
He said jilted lovers, ex-roommates, or those in the middle of divorces could use to the law in their favor with no recourse.
“There is a lot going on here with this bill and I don’t think anybody who is for it realizes what they are about to lose,” said Kyle Fitzsimons, a gun-owner from Lebanon.
“It’s not a real solution to the problems that we face. In fact, it’s a very dangerous solution,” Brakey said.
The other bill under consideration would allow towns to create their own guns laws and gun-free zones.
“Firearm laws are determined at the state level because we don’t want to have a mish-mash of policies from town to town,” said Brakey, who testified against both bills. “People travel across town and don’t realize they’re committing a felony in one town but it’s completely legal in another. That is problematic.”
The committees will decide on whether to forward the bills along for full consideration.