June 15, 2024

Native Information

New England states boast a few of the lowest firearm mortality charges within the nation, however the state legal guidelines of the area differ drastically.

A sign reads "Lewiston," referring to the town in Maine. The "o" in the name of the town has a heart taped over it.
A person pictures a make-shift memorial on the base of the Lewiston signal at Veteran’s Memorial Park, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine. The neighborhood is working to heal following taking pictures deaths of 18 individuals at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Matt York/AP

The mass taking pictures that killed 18 individuals within the school city of Lewiston has introduced into query Maine’s gun legal guidelines and legislators’ efforts to maintain them so lax. 

Critics have pointed to Maine’s lack of pink flag legal guidelines, which greater than 20 states — together with some in New England — have put in place to cease weapons from entering into the arms of residents deemed high-risk or harmful. 

What Maine has, as a substitute, are yellow flag legal guidelines, which have been written and handed in 2019 with the assistance of a gun-rights group, The Related Press reported. It’s the one state with a so-called yellow flag regulation. 

How is it totally different from pink flag legal guidelines, and the way does Maine gun laws evaluate to the remainder of New England? 

Maine’s gun legal guidelines

Maine’s yellow flag legal guidelines work loads like pink flag legal guidelines, besides there’s an additional step relating to how a gun could be confiscated from an individual thought of harmful. 

The yellow flag regulation requires a regulation enforcement officer to report doable confiscation of somebody’s weapon to a choose, and moreover a medical skilled should do a psychological well being analysis on the gun holder in query. With pink flag legal guidelines, you both want regulation enforcement or a member of the family to go to a choose, relying on the state, however a medical analysis is just not needed.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s government director David Trahan advised Maine Public Radio again in April that the gun rights group helped draft Maine’s watered-down model of “pink flag” legal guidelines in order that “due course of” remained for gun homeowners.

However critics stated it created one more step in the best way of getting firearms taken from those that shouldn’t have them within the first place. Everytown was one of many gun reform teams unsuccessful in implementing pink flag legal guidelines in Maine, stated Sam Levy, the advocacy group’s Northeast authorized director. However what ended up passing in Maine, he stated, made it “unusually tough” to take a gun away from somebody in a disaster state of affairs, particularly when it got here to discovering a physician accessible to judge the gun proprietor. 

Jack McDevitt, a professor at Northeastern College’s College of Criminology and Prison Justice who was a part of a activity pressure answerable for drafting higher gun reform legal guidelines in Massachusetts a decade in the past, stated it additionally isn’t a call that regulation enforcement or medical professionals need to make, based mostly on his analysis of shaping stricter gun legal guidelines within the commonwealth.

“The people who find themselves most vested in somebody not hurting themselves are the individuals closest to them,” McDevitt stated. “They’re most definitely to know somebody goes by way of a tough time. They’re additionally the individuals who care in regards to the particular person probably the most.”

Maine’s yellow flag regulation is at the moment beneath scrutiny because the investigation into Robert Card’s lethal rampage continues. Card had been medically evaluated for a psychological well being situation in the summertime in New York, police had been notified of Card’s violent threats in September, and the shooter had been denied the acquisition of a gun silencer in Maine after he placed on a type that he had psychological well being points.

These with a felony or who’re convicted home abusers can even not personal weapons. 

Since 2015, Maine can also be a permitless carry state, which means gun homeowners can legally conceal carry a gun and not using a allow, so long as they’re 21 years or older — or 18 years and older if they’re within the army. 

In keeping with Giffords Legislation Heart, a gun reform advocacy group that places out an annual scorecard rating every state on gun legal guidelines and security, Maine obtained an F. 

How does New England evaluate?

With one exception, a lot of the New England states have stricter gun legal guidelines in place — and a distinct gun tradition as nicely. 

“In Maine and New Hampshire, we see a tradition the place persons are extra more likely to assume that everybody ought to have quick access to a firearm if they need it,” McDevitt stated.

New Hampshire, the one different New England state to obtain an F on the Giffords scorecard, has restricted legal guidelines relating to regulating weapons. The Granite State doesn’t have something like a “pink flag” regulation in place, and like Maine, it permits permitless carry. Solely age restrictions are placed on the possession of a handgun, through which the proprietor have to be 18 years or older. 

Vermont has handed a number of new gun legal guidelines within the final handful of years, together with a pink flag regulation in response to the truth that 88 p.c of gun deaths are suicides within the state. 

“They’ve had a quantum leap when it comes to their strategy to gun security,” Levy stated. “Since 2018, they’ve handed a slate of payments that gave them lots of the foundational legal guidelines which might be so frequent in New England.”

Excessive-capacity magazines are additionally prohibited, you need to be 21 or older to buy a handgun, and the state requires background checks on all gun gross sales. Nevertheless Vermont nonetheless permits permitless carry.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, and to some extent Rhode Island go leaps and bounds additional than their northern neighbors with pink flag legal guidelines in place, background checks when buying weapons, and prohibition of excessive capability magazines. Massachusetts and Connecticut go a step additional in outlawing some semi-automatic weapons and requiring that each one gun homeowners put their firearms in storage when not in use. Connecticut and Rhode Island have in recent times put restrictions on ghost weapons, that are privately made and untraceable firearms. 

There have been criticisms of those legal guidelines, like that the pink flag regulation isn’t used, which gun management advocates blame on the shortage of public training across the regulation. However all the states in New England, together with Maine and New Hampshire, have a few of the lowest firearm mortality charges within the nation.

It isn’t instantly clear if Lewiston’s taking pictures will immediate New England states to take one other take a look at their gun legal guidelines. New Hampshire Public Radio studies that state lawmakers there spoke on the Capitol about Lewiston whereas contemplating unrelated payments, and stated the tragedy was “not trigger for gun reform.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, each of Maine, stated they assist taking a look at banning high-capacity magazines, however not assault-style weapons. Their stances comes on the heels of 1 Maine legislator, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, who stated the Lewiston taking pictures reversed his choice to assist an assault weapons ban “just like the one utilized by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing.”