AUGUSTA – State lawmakers are working on another bill to keep firearms out of the hands of those thought to be potentially violent.
A bill from Sen. Lisa Keim (R – Dixfield) and Sen. Michael Carpenter (D – Houlton) differs from another proposed red flag bill, and this one has the support of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.
In Augusta Thursday, the bill, that has been called alternative red flag bill, was discussed by lawmakers in a work session.
It was brought forward by a Republican and a Democrat, and has the support of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
“People are recognizing this as something that is workable,” said Sen. Keim.
This bill would work in conjunction with the state’s existing involuntary hospitalization laws, meaning law enforcement can put someone in protective custody if they’ve been reported as a threat to themselves or the public.
The proposed law would require a medical professional to evaluate the person’s behavior to determine if firearms should be taken away.
Sen. Keim said it differs from another red flag bill, proposed previously by Sen. Rebecca Millett (D – South Portland) that relies on a court’s extreme risk protection order.
“The other way is just a person going to the court, and getting an order for someone’s guns to be removed, based on only that one person’s decision…there’s really nothing there that protects that from not being abused,” said Sen. Keim.
Sen. Millett said this new bill is not truly a red flag bill, lacks due process, and does not go far enough, but she said she does support Sen. Keim’s bill because the two could work well together.
“It shouldn’t be passed with the understanding that we don’t need a red flag bill, we still need it,” said Sen. Millett. “Red flag bills have been passed in 18 states across the country by Republican and Democratic governors alike.”
Moms Demand Action, a gun safety advocacy group, has been in support of Sen. Millett’s red flag bill but would not comment directly on Sen. Keim’s, saying in a statement, in part, “it is seen as a distraction from a strong bill with wide spread support from organizations whose focus is public safety, child welfare, and gun violence prevention.”
According to Sen. Keim the implementation of the bill may be delayed as lawmakers continue to amend and work out the logistics of this proposal in committee.