Sacramento, CA – Less than five years after the California Legislature passed a law allowing an immediate family member or a law enforcement officer to request and initiate the confiscation of an individual’s guns in a secret, ex-parte court process, the state is considering a proposal to expand and allow many other people to file those confiscation requests against unsuspecting gun owners.
lends itself to the argument made by opponents of the proposal in the Maine Legislature
to create a similar process. Opponents argue that the Maine proposal violates
multiple constitutional protections, including the due process protections of
the U.S. Constitution and gun rights under both the U.S. and Maine Constitution.
California proposal would amend the state’s “red flag” flaw to include
co-workers, employers, teachers and employees of a school a person has attended
in addition to immediate family and law enforcement officers.
proposal, L.D. 1312, as drafted, similarly allows members of a household, law
enforcement officers or law enforcement agencies to file a petition for gun
proposal also enables ex-spouses, in-laws and other family to file also. In any
future legislature, however, additions such as California is considering could
be made with a simple majority vote of the legislature and a Governor who would
not veto the bill.
A public hearing on L.D. 1312 on April 22, 2019 showed strong opposition from Maine gun owners as well as law enforcement agencies who are opposed to the idea of being required to show up at a gun owners home with no prior notice or warning to execute a search warrant and confiscate guns. Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols described his objection to the law bluntly, “We do not want to get shot. We do not want to shoot someone,” Sheriff Nichols said to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
A group that advocates gun control measures, Moms Demand Action, which is part of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $50 million gun control push, came out in March in support of the Legislation. They claim that enabling the confiscation of guns through the secret process will save lives and prevent suicides. Several representatives from that group testified in Augusta in support of Maine’s current proposal.
to be seen if there is enough support in the Maine Legislature to push the
proposal through to the desk of Governor Janet Mills. One alternative would be
if the to take the path that many opponents of the current proposal said at the
public hearing should be taken, which is to fix Maine’s ‘blue paper’ laws.
Those laws exist to protect individuals suffering in a mental health crisis or
other acute or dangerous situations.
health is the top concern generally cited as the cause of most of the worst shootings
in America, so fixing those laws does seem to be appealing to most advocates on
all sides of the issue.
lawmakers will grapple with L.D. 1312 as the Legislature careens toward the end
of the current legislative session in June. The Judiciary Committee has voted
what is called a “divided report” on the Maine bill. That means some members of
the committee supported it, and some opposed.
Out in California, the expanded gun confiscation law, AB-61, has been passed by the California Assembly and now awaits votes in the State Senate. It received broad support by members of California’s notoriously liberal State Assembly, passing in a roll call vote 54 to 17.
L.D. 1312, is
sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett (D – Cumberland) and has ten cosponsors:
Representative Donna Bailey (D – Saco) Representative Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor) Senator Everett Carson (D – Cumberland) Speaker Sara Gideon ( D – Freeport) Senator Geoffrey Gratwick (D – Penobscot) Representative Thom Harnett (D – Gardiner) Representative Patricia Hymanson (D – York) Representative Joyce McCreight (D – Harpswell) Senator David Miramant (D – Knox) Representative Lois Reckitt (D – South Portland)
A previous attempt to pass similar
legislation was vetoed by Governor Paul LePage after compromise language
was added to win support in the Maine Legislature.