AUGUSTA – There is a bill before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee that would allow family and law enforcement to flag those who may pose a threat to themselves or others.
The bill submitted by Sen. Mark Dion (D-Portland) — an Act to Create a Community Protection Order — would allow the courts to temporarily take guns from high-risk individuals who demonstrate a concerning pattern or behaviors that are escalating.
“I think it’s the right policy for the right time,” Dion, a former Cumberland County sheriff, said just before the Tuesday hearing.
The bill would allow those who have their guns taken away to get their weapons back after 21 days if the court approves the return.
“I’ve drafted this bill with a lot of due process,” Dion said. “This isn’t giving police the right to just show up at your house and take your weapons. There has to be an application by the court, there has to be a decision by a judge and then we’re looking for surrender.
“I put language in the bill that specifically blocks police from using this as an end run on any Fourth Amendment search issues they might have,” he added later.
Members of the Maine Police Chief’s Association were at the hearing to testify in support of the measure.
“We feel that although it may not cure all of the problems out there is society, especially with all the mental health issues, we see this as just one piece of the puzzle that we look at especially with mass shootings,” York Police Chief Douglas Bracy said.
There have been warning signs of previous mass shooting and, “There was really nothing done about it,” Bracy added.
Not everyone at the hearing supported changing the law. A large group of gun owners was at the State House to testify against the Community Protection Order.
“We feel it has numerous due process problems, the potential for abuse and it’s just unacceptable,” said Todd Tolhurst, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.