Mental Health

published : 2023-11-16

Maine's 'Yellow Flag' Law Invoked Following Deadly Shooting Spree

Weapons Restriction Orders imposed 94 times since law's enactment

A somber memorial stands along Main Street in Lewiston, Maine, paying tribute to the victims of the tragic mass shooting. The photo, taken with a Nikon D850, captures the emotions of a community in mourning.

Since the tragic mass shooting that claimed the lives of 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, last month, the state's 'Yellow Flag' law has been invoked more than a dozen times to restrict access to firearms during mental health crises.

According to an updated report released by the state, the yellow flag law has resulted in 13 weapons restriction orders since the deadly shootings on October 25, making it the deadliest incident in Maine's history. This brings the total number of orders imposed under the law to 94 times since its introduction in July 2020.

Out of the individuals affected by these orders, four individuals either mentioned the name of the Lewiston gunman, Robert Card, or made alarming remarks about becoming the 'next mass shooter', as detailed in the state's list of cases. Astonishingly, the law was invoked five times in a single day, last Friday.

Law enforcement officers participate in a specialized training session focused on Maine's 'Yellow Flag' law. The image, captured with a Canon EOS R, showcases their dedication to protecting public safety.

The release of these updated figures occurred during a law enforcement training session that focused on the yellow flag law. Shannon Moss, the spokesperson for the state police, confirmed the participation of several hundred officers in this training.

During the horrifying incident, where Card, an Army reservist, opened fire at a bowling alley and a bar, 18 innocent lives were tragically lost, with another 13 individuals left wounded. The aftermath prompted an unprecedented manhunt, leading law enforcement to uncover Card's lifeless body two days later in nearby Lisbon. An autopsy later confirmed that he had taken his own life.

The implementation of Maine's yellow flag law empowers the police to take action when warned about individuals who may pose a threat. Following a warning, an officer is dispatched to assess the situation and determine if temporary protective custody should be initiated. This assessment may be followed by a judge's approval for a 14-day weapons restriction. In some cases, a court hearing could lengthen the restrictions for up to a year.

A courtroom scene unfolds as a judge carefully considers the case of an individual under a weapons restriction order. This dramatic photo, taken with a Sony A7 III, symbolizes the importance of due process in the implementation of the law.

It has come to light that authorities had received prior warnings about Card's mental health and access to weapons. Concerns from family members and fellow reservists were documented, with one reservist even expressing the chilling belief that Card could potentially carry out a mass shooting. While deputies attempted visits to Card's residence in Bowdoin on two separate occasions, he refused to answer the door. Unfortunately, law enforcement at the time did not possess the legal means to further intervene.

The chain of events that unfolded after remains unclear, although the sheriff's office surprisingly called off the statewide alert seeking assistance in locating Card a week before the devastating rampage.

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