To the Editor:
Isn’t it about time we started start supporting law enforcement and the families of those at risk? Families and law enforcement are often the first to recognize threats and risks of harm. All too often, family members and law enforcement are faced with situations where they see warning signs and know “troubles a-brewing.” And, all too often, they are forced to wait until a crime or tragedy occurs before action is taken. Maine has a chance to support families who seek help and support law enforcement by passing red flag legislation (LD 1312) this session. Red flag bills or extreme risk protection orders provide a legal pathway to intervene before a tragedy occurs.
An analysis of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017 revealed that in 51 percent of incidents the shooter exhibited warning signs that they posed a risk to themselves or others before the shooting. These warning signs are even more apparent among perpetrators of school violence. Mass shootings are not the only cases to be averted. Maine has a suicide rate above the national average. Family members are often the first to recognize depression and despair in their loved ones yet are helpless to seek intervention to temporarily remove firearms until after the unimaginable occurs.
Nobody argues that increased availability to mental health services is part of the equation, but neither is it the total solution. Let’s agree that the easy access to a firearm in a time of crisis is simply not in anyone’s best interest; the person suffering, family members who must helplessly stand by, or law enforcement, whose job it is to help and serve but have no means to avert imminent dangers or threats.
Maine, let’s do it and pass a red flag bill.