Frequently Asked Questions about LD 1312 Understanding the Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”), sometimes referred to as a “Red Flag” law.

Why does Maine need an ERPO? How is it different than Maine’s current laws?

In Maine there is no legal process for removing firearms from individuals who are temporarily at a higher risk of violence towards themselves or others but are not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms. This means that law enforcement and families don’t have the legal tools to remove firearms from people who are exhibiting dangerous behaviors. An Extreme Risk Protection Order is a critical preventative measure that fills that gap by allowing family members and law enforcement to seek an order issued by a judge to temporarily reduce access to firearms by individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Under this bill, who can seek an ERPO?

Law enforcement officers and immediate family and household members of the individual exhibiting dangerous behaviors may petition for an Extreme Risk Protection Order. Ten of the 15 states with Extreme Risk laws, plus the District of Columbia, also provide that family and household members may petition for an order.

Are there adequate due process protections in the bill?

The Extreme Risk Protection Order is modeled after Maine's domestic violence protective order process, which allows relief (including firearm purchase and possession prohibitions and removal of firearms) through a temporary order, which may be issued ex parte—that is, without the individual who is the subject of the order appearing before the judge. These temporary orders only last until a full hearing can be scheduled. The due process protections afforded by the temporary order in this bill are nearly identical in substance and form to those afforded in the case of domestic violence temporary protective orders under current law. Temporary domestic violence protective orders issued ex parte have been routinely upheld against due process challenges.

Will the respondent have access to counsel?

When a hearing is held, all parties, including the respondent, will have the opportunity to have a lawyer present to represent their interests. The bill provides for appointment of counsel to indigent individuals who would otherwise be unable to afford an attorney. While this is not constitutionally necessary, the bill’s sponsors have included this provision in response to statements shared by some members of the public.

What’s to stop someone from seeking an ERPO in bad faith or as some form of punishment?

The petitioner must allege, in writing and under penalty of perjury, that the respondent poses a threat and provide credible evidence that the respondent poses the risk alleged in the petition. Upon evaluating the evidence, a judge must find that there is sufficient evidence to issue the order. A person who knowingly seeks a false order would have committed perjury, and could face criminal penalties.

How do you respond to claims that abusers will use ERPOs to disarm victims of domestic abuse?

The presence of a gun in situations involving domestic abuse increases the likelihood of harm to the victim. Evidence is clear that abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser has access to a gun. Further, laws that restrict access to firearms for persons under domestic violence restraining orders are associated with a 10% reduction in intimate partner homicides and a 13% reduction in firearm intimate partner homicides. These results are consistent with findings from other studies.

A petition for an extreme risk protection order must be made under oath and contain a sworn affidavit. The issuance of an ERPO requires a decision by a judicial officer based on evidence of behavioral risk. If a person attempted to maliciously petition for an ERPO in order to potentially disarm their victim in a domestic violence situation, the petitioner would be subject to civil liability and penalties.

Further, the state has long had a Protection from Abuse law which allows for an ex parte order from a court restricting an accused abuser from accessing firearms. Maine’s ERPO bill is modeled on this long-standing and life-saving law.

What happens to the firearms when an ERPO is issued?

Respondents to an Extreme Risk Protection Order shall be required to surrender all firearms from their possession or control to law enforcement. Once the order has expired, the respondent may request to have their firearms returned.

Can the respondent get their firearms back if there is no longer a threat?

Yes, the respondent may file a written request for a hearing to dissolve an Extreme Risk Protection Order. A hearing would then be held on the request, and respondent would be required to provide proof that they do not pose a serious threat of causing personal injury to themselves or others by having access to firearms.

Will law enforcement support and implement this policy?

Yes. The Maine Chiefs of Police Association support this policy, as has law enforcement in the other states where it has passed. Additionally, extreme risk laws are being effectively implemented in states around the country.

California’s ERPO law has been used to disarm dangerous individuals and suicidal family members. On April 12, 2018— the day after Vermont enacted this lifesaving policy, and two months after the Parkland massacre—Vermont law enforcement obtained an ERPO against an 18-year-old who had planned a mass shooting at a high school. The would-be murderer kept a diary called “Journal of an Active Shooter,” in which he detailed his plans to cause more casualties than any previous school shooting. In Washington state, a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County, Kimberly Wyatt, recounted several instances in which Washington’s ERPO law helped prevent gun deaths, including:

• a concerned therapist who contacted law enforcement to remove firearms from their suicidal patient;

• a woman who requested an ERPO for her suicidal partner, who later shared his gratitude that someone had intervened and removed his firearms during that moment of crisis; and

• a doctor who alerted police about their patient’s “hit list” and intention to commit mass violence. Extreme risk laws are enforced and actively saving lives in the states that have them.

Yet Another Poll Confirms Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Red Flag Bill in Maine

A new poll echos “similar findings from Maine Gun Safety Coalition polling, which also shows strong support across the entire state for the passage of a Red Flag law.” The poll of 1000 Mainers found “81 percent of voters support Red Flag legislation — including 94 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans… 79 percent of rural voters and 85 percent of urban voters showing support for the policy…[and] Regardless of the office, respondents across the political spectrum are more likely to support candidates who back Red Flag legislation.”

A press release announcing the poll can be found here, or you can read it its entirety below.

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New Polling: 81 Percent of Maine Voters Support Life-Saving Red Flag Legislation

Polling Comes Ahead of Hearing on LD 1312, also Known as Red Flag Legislation

Red Flag Legislation Empowers Family and Law Enforcement to Temporarily Remove Guns From Someone Who Poses a Risk of Harming Themselves or Others

AUGUSTA, Maine — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today released polling conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of Everytown. The results indicate that the wide majority of Mainers support Red Flag legislation, which would create a new type of court order that temporarily restricts a person’s access to firearms if the court finds that they pose a serious risk of causing injury to themselves or others. 

“The proof is in the polling,” said Kathleen McFadden, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “These results support what we already know to be true — Mainers want to keep their families and communities safe from gun violence. Our lawmakers should pay attention and advance this life-saving legislation that will empower law enforcement and families to intervene when they recognize a person is in crisis.”

The survey interviewed more than 1,000 Maine adults and found, among other results:

  • 81 percent of voters support Red Flag legislation — including 94 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans

  • Mainers across the state can get behind Red Flag legislation, with 79 percent of rural voters and 85 percent of urban voters showing support for the policy

  • Regardless of the office, respondents across the political spectrum are more likely to support candidates who back Red Flag legislation

These results echo similar findings from Maine Gun Safety Coalition polling, which also shows strong support across the entire state for the passage of a Red Flag law. In addition to Everytown and Moms Demand Action, the legislation is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, American Academy of Pediatrics – Maine, Giffords, Sandy Hook Promise, Veterans for Peace and Maine Gun Safety Coalition.

LD 1312, a Red Flag law, would create a new kind of court order known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order, which temporarily restricts a person’s access to firearms if a court finds that they pose a danger of harming themselves or others. Red Flag laws can help prevent warning signs from turning into tragedies such as mass shootings or gun suicides. This is especially vital in Maine, where one Maine resident dies by gun suicide every three days and suicide by gun accounts for nearly 90 percent of all firearm fatalities, killing over 600 Maine residents in the last five years.

New Poll Shows Broad Bipartisan Support for Red Flag Laws and Universal Background Checks in Maine

New polling from Pan Atlantic Research on behalf of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition finds that Maine voters support stronger gun laws by a wide margin. The survey gauges support among Maine registered voters for two proposals currently under consideration in the legislature.

82.1 percent of registered voters approve of a proposal to strengthen background checks and 81.5 percent support a proposal to implement an extreme risk protection order, also known as a red flag law.

The background checks proposal makes it mandatory for firearm purchases at gun shows and through marketing publications to complete a background check. The extreme risk protection order, or red flag law, would permit family members and law enforcement officials to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

The poll interviewed 500 registered voters in Maine who voted in 2016 and intend to vote in 2020. Conducted in both of Maine’s congressional districts with a ± 4.4 percent margin of error, the survey provides a reliable reflection of the demographics of the state’s electorate.

Additional Key Takeaways:

● Support for stronger gun laws is bipartisan. 91.6 percent of Democrats and 69.2 percent of Republicans support background checks for gun shows and marketing publications, and 91.5 percent of Democrats and 70.3 percent of

Republicans support extreme risk laws.

  • ●  Independents are heavily in favor of stronger gun laws. 87.9 percent of independent voters support background checks and 84.3 percent of independents support extreme risk laws.

  • ●  Support for the two proposals is widespread across the state. Support for these measures is not limited to one city or district. 86.7 percent of voters in CD 1 support background checks, and 87 percent of voters support the temporary prohibition of firearm possession. In CD 2, 77.7 percent of voters support background checks and 76 percent of voters support extreme risk laws.

Asked to check on woman, neighbor discovered apparent murder-suicide in Hebron

"Daniel Randall left Liberty Bay Recovery Center on Forest Avenue in Portland at 10 a.m. Thursday, having just completed a 90-day recovery program for alcohol treatment. He then bought a shotgun, drove to the house and broke in through the garage door because he did not have a key. He killed his daughter at 2 p.m. and spray-painted messages in five rooms of the house before killing himself." Portland Press Herald

Do you see the chilling warning signs in this PSA about gun violence?

Our friends at Sandy Hook Promise made a PSA about recognizing warning signs for a potential school shooting. "'The one message is I want people to know that gun violence is preventable when you know the signs,' said Nicole Hockley, founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise. Her son Dylan, a first-grader, was killed at Sandy Hook. 'That’s a big eye opener in itself. People don’t think about gun violence in this way. We think about imminent danger, active shooter drills or lockdowns. This is about prevention.'" Watch Video

Suspect in fatal shooting of Naples man had vowed to hurt ex-girlfriend

Norman Strobel took his ex-girlfriend's two dogs from her home a week ago. She had a protection order against him that he repeatedly violated. He shouldn't have had a handgun when he arrived at his ex-girlfriend's camp because of the protective order and his multiple felonies. Richard Dickema is dead, Strobel is dead, and Jason Almedia was shot four times.

We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of violent men in Maine.

Fourth Anniversary Sandy Hook Elementary Remembrance

Events commemorating the fourth anniversary of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, will be held across the country. In Bangor a candlelight vigil will take place on Wednesday, December 14th, at 5:15 PM, in Pierce Park (adjacent to the Bangor Public Library). Candles will be lit to remember not only the victims and families of the Sandy Hook shooting but also all those who have been traumatized by the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America since that tragic day. The theme of this vigil, sponsored by the Northern Maine Chapter of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, is We Remember.

So far this year over 50,000 individuals in the United States have been victimized by gun violence according to the Gun Violence Archive. 605 children between the ages of 0-11 have been killed or injured by a firearm. Add to that family members and friends and you have a large segment of our population traumatized by gun violence every year.

Those wishing to attend the Bangor vigil are asked to bring a candle and a toy/gift to donate as a gesture of hope that citizens can make a difference if they come together to take sensible steps to reduce the toll taken by gun violence. A silent vigil will be held for 15 minutes and then a remembrance will be offered. The toys will be donated to the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance which will distribute them to families that have been touched by violence. Inclement weather—except for a blizzard making driving unsafe—will not cause the event to be canceled. For more information, contact Coordinator Mary Anne Royal at northernme@mainegunsafety.org.