WESTBOROUGH, MA April 25, 2018 Maine is the latest state to consider a so-called red flag law. It would let family members or law enforcement officers petition a judge to take away a “high risk” person’s firearms temporarily, if the judge determines the person poses an imminent risk. In a recent post I describe the updated terminology for individuals who are a potential threat called Gun Violence Restraining Orders. The proposed action would allow law enforcement to remove the firearms of people who are known to be threatening or physically violent toward intimate partners. “Felons, the dangerously mentally ill, perpetrators of domestic violence – these people have demonstrated their unfitness to own a firearm” said David French, 2018. In cases such as these police have reasonable cause to disallow gun ownership based not on prior conviction but on the elevated risk to potential victims.
Here in Massachusetts, in August 2013 I published a blog after the death of Jennifer Martell who was murdered in front of her 4-year old daughter by Jared Remy, son of Red Sox broadcaster and former player Jerry Remy. The younger Remy had received one break after another some say linked to his celebrity father’s influence. He was never held until a dangerousness hearing could be undertaken. Had this been done Ms. Martell may be alive today. In 2011, Stephen Lake murdered his wife and children after he was kept from attending his son’s 8th grade graduation. Lake had exhibited several red flag warnings prior to the murders. In spite of these he was not held nor were his firearms removed from his control Allanach, et al. 2011.
Several states have debated similar red flag laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Supporters argue a red flag law could have prevented the Parkland shooter, but some gun owners say it’s an overreach that threatens their 2nd Amendment rights.