Legislature to hear Dion “Red Flag” bill
AUGUSTA — The Legislative Council on Tuesday voted 7-3 to approve an after-deadline bill request from Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, LR 2943, “An Act To Create a Community Protection Order.” The bill would provide an avenue for law enforcement or concerned individuals to petition the courts to temporarily remove weapons from a high-risk individual, who potentially poses a threat to others or themselves.
This Legislation comes after the recent events in Parkland, Florida and the increasing number of threats and incidents regarding weapons occurring in Maine schools.
“After the Parkland high school shooting, we’re all searching for a way forward that protects our children while respecting responsible firearm ownership. Today, I am introducing legislation to create Community Protection Orders that will authorize a court to order the surrender of firearms linked to a person, identified as a high-risk individual, who presents a substantial danger to the personal safety of innocent third parties,” said Sen. Dion. “With the passage of this bill, Maine will add its voice to a growing national consensus that rapid legal intervention, provided by “red flag” statutes, will provide families and public safety officials with a key intervention that will help prevent needless deaths in schools, and in all other public spaces.”
The Community Protection Order would permit the court to temporarily remove weapons from an individual, who has demonstrated a clear, pattern of concerning behavior that seems to escalate. After 21 days, the individual would appear in court for a hearing. The order was designed to ensure that the removal of weapons would be directed and vetted by the court and not just predicated on police and family members.
This comprehensive bill build’s on Sen. Dion’s previous efforts to protect individuals and communities from acts of violence. Similar legislation has been passed in five states, including Indiana. According to the Washington Post, 19 other states – not including Maine – are currently considering “red flag” bills.
Bills submitted for consideration during the Second Regular Session must be approved by a majority of the 10-member Legislative Council. The Council is comprised of the five top Democrats and five Republicans in the House and Senate, meaning bipartisan support is required for any bill to be accepted.
The legislation, still in draft form, will be finalized in the coming weeks and referenced to a legislative committee for a public hearing. A public hearing will be announced at a later date.