In response to the October 25 deadly mass shooting in Lewiston in which an Army reservist fatally shot 18 people and injured 13 others, Maine Senator Susan Collins is working on legislation to ensure that the US military abides by state laws limiting access to firearms for individuals believed to be a threat to themselves or others, WMTW reported.
The legislation would require the military bases in US states to follow the state-level red flag or yellow flag laws if officials believe that a service member serving in that state is a threat to himself or others.
In a statement to the Bangor Daily News last week, the senator’s spokeswoman Annie Clark said according to the press reports on Lewiston shooter Robert Card, the military units to which Card was assigned “had not acted to invoke either New York’s red flag law or Maine’s yellow flag law,” despite multiple warnings signs which included Card being hospitalized in a New York psychiatric hospital and the Army’s decision to prevent him from accessing weapons and ammunition or participating in live-fire exercises.
These overlooked warning signs led Senator Collins to initiate a request for an investigation by the US Army’s office of the inspector general, Clark’s statement said.
Additionally, the Maine Republican’s office is working on legislation requiring each military branch to “fully utilize” the red flag and yellow flag laws in states “when appropriate to protect an individual” from harming himself or others, the statement said.
According to WMTW, a US Army spokesperson did not say why the Card’s units did not act under either New York’s red flag or Maine’s yellow flag law.
The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s David Trahan, who helped craft the state’s yellow flag law, told WMTW that the senator’s legislation could help close a safety gap. He said there must be more accountability and clarity on how the US military transitions soldiers in crisis back to their home states if they are considered a danger to themselves or others.
The crafting of the legislation is in the early stages. Senator Collins’ office said work would continue when the Senate returns from recess.