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Questions rise about ‘yellow flag’ laws in Maine after shooting suspect found dead

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Lewiston, Maine’s mass shooting suspect, Robert Card, 40, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Oct. 27. According to law enforcement, officers found the Army reservist’s body in a trailer parked in the overflow parking lot of a recycling center in Lisbon, Maine.

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Questions are circulating regarding Card’s motives and how was he able to possess firearms after he spent two weeks in a mental health facility over the summer, considering Maine has “yellow flag” laws on the books.

At this point in time, authorities say they’re still not sure what motivated Card to shoot up a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston on Oct. 25, killing 18 people and wounding more than a dozen others.

“I think clearly there’s a mental health component to this,” said Michael Sauschuck, commissioner for the Maine Department of Public Safety. “We still need to do some research and try to get access to records and things of that nature.”

Maine’s yellow flag law went into effect on July 1, 2020. According to the law, to separate a dangerous person from their gun(s), law enforcement would have to take a person believed to be dangerous into custody, and that individual would then have to be evaluated by a medical professional. A judge would then have the power to remove firearms from that individual only based on the doctor’s diagnosis.

Throughout this investigation, officials have said that Card suffered mental health episodes. He was hearing voices in his head and was hospitalized for mental health concerns for two weeks in July. He also threatened to shoot up a National Guard facility.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at a news conference that Maine’s yellow flag law should’ve been enacted in this case.

“It certainly seems that based on the facts that we have, that the yellow flag law should’ve been triggered, if in fact the suspect was hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness,” Collins said. “That should’ve triggered the yellow flag law and he should’ve been separated from his weapons.”

Investigators say they found a long gun in Card’s car, along with another two guns at the scene where his body was found.

According to a new report from CNN Oct. 30, the Maine National Guard asked local police to perform a welfare check on Card, which they initially attempted on Sept. 16 – less than six weeks before the Lewiston massacre. The officer was unsuccessful in making contact with Card and it’s unclear if any action was taken to remove Card’s guns from his possession.

“We’ll have to look at the actual snapshot in time.” Sauschuck said. “The yellow flag law in the state of Maine is very specific about an individual who’s in protective custody from law enforcement to begin with. And do we have probable cause to believe they’re in possession, they could be in possession of dangerous weapons. So, if you meet those criteria, then you can take an individual in for a yellow flag assessment, a weapons restriction order assessment.”

According to its website, the Maine Gun Safety Coalition calls Maine’s yellow flag laws “weak,” stating “an assault weapons ban is necessary to try to prevent more such tragedies in our state.”

Authorities say the weapons restriction order has been used in Maine 82 times since first enacted in July 2020.

The Lewiston shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of Maine.

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 LEWISTON, MAINE’S MASS SHOOTING SUSPECT – ROBERT CARD – WAS FOUND DEAD FROM A SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND FRIDAY NIGHT – ACCORDING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS.

OFFICERS FOUND THE ARMY RESERVIST’S BODY IN A TRAILER – IN THE OVERFLOW PARKING LOT OF A RECYCLING CENTER IN LISBON – JUST BEFORE 8 O’CLOCK.

NOW – QUESTIONS REMAIN.  WHAT WAS CARD’S MOTIVE? AND HOW WAS HE ABLE TO POSSESS FIREARMS AFTER HE SPENT TWO WEEKS IN A MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY OVER THE SUMMER – WHILE MAINE HAS “YELLOW FLAG” LAWS ON THE BOOKS?

AT THIS POINT IN TIME – AUTHORITIES SAY THEY’RE NOT SURE WHAT MOTIVATED CARD TO SHOOT UP A BOWLING ALLEY AND RESTAURANT IN LEWISTON, MAINE ON OCTOBER 25TH – KILLING 18 PEOPLE AND WOUNDING MORE THAN A DOZEN OTHERS.

(MICHAEL SAUSCHUCK / COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY

“I THINK CLEARLY THERE’S A MENTAL HEALTH COMPONENT TO THIS. WE STILL NEED TO DO SOME RESEARCH AND TRY TO GET ACCESS TO RECORDS AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE…”

MAINE’S YELLOW FLAG LAW WENT INTO EFFECT ON JULY 1ST 2020.

ACCORDING TO THE LAW… IN ORDER TO SEPARATE A DANGEROUS PERSON FROM THEIR GUNS – LAW ENFORCEMENT WOULD HAVE TO TAKE A PERSON BELIEVED TO BE DANGEROUS INTO CUSTODY – AND THAT INDIVIDUAL WOULD THEN HAVE TO BE EVALUATED BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

A JUDGE WOULD THEN HAVE THE POWER TO REMOVE FIREARMS FROM AN INDIVIDUAL – ONLY BASED ON THE DOCTOR’S DIAGNOSIS.

THROUGHOUT THIS INVESTIGATION, OFFICIALS HAVE SAID CARD SUFFERED MENTAL HEALTH EPISODES… HE WAS HEARING VOICES IN HIS HEAD AND WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS FOR TWO-WEEKS IN JULY.

HE ALSO THREATENED TO SHOOT UP A NATIONAL GUARD FACILITY.

 MAINE U-S SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS SAID AT A NEWS CONFERENCE LAST WEEK – MAINE’S YELLOW FLAG LAW SHOULD’VE BEEN ENACTED IN THIS CASE.

(SEN. SUSAN COLLINS / (R) MAINE)

“IT CERTAINLY SEEMS THAT BASED ON THE FACTS THAT WE HAVE, THAT THE YELLOW FLAG LAW SHOULD’VE BEEN TRIGGERED IF IN FACT THE SUSPECT WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR TWO WEEKS FOR MENTAL ILLNESS. THAT SHOULD’VE TRIGGERED THE YELLOW FLAG LAW AND HE SHOULD’VE BEEN SEPARATED FROM HIS WEAPONS.”

INVESTIGATORS SAY THEY FOUND A LONG GUN IN CARD’S CAR – AND AT LEAST TWO GUNS AT THE SCENE WHERE CARD’S BODY WAS FOUND.

ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT FROM CNN TODAY – THE MAINE NATIONAL GUARD ASKED LOCAL POLICE TO PERFORM A WELFARE CHECK ON CARD – WHICH THEY INITIALLY ATTEMPTED ON SEPTEMBER 16TH – LESS THAN SIX WEEKS BEFORE THE LEWISTON MASSACRE.

THE OFFICER WAS UNSUCCESSFUL IN MAKING CONTACT WITH CARD AND IT’S UNCLEAR IF ANY ACTION WAS TAKEN – TO REMOVE CARD’S GUNS FROM HIS POSSESSION.

IT’S A PIECE TO THE PUZZLE THAT INVESTIGATORS ARE LOOKING INTO.

(MICHAEL SAUSCHUCK / COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY, OCT. 28TH)

“WE’LL HAVE TO LOOK AT THE ACTUAL SNAPSHOT IN TIME. THE YELLOW FLAG LAW IN THE STATE OF MAINE IS VERY SPECIFIC ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL WHO’S IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BEGIN WITH. AND DO WE HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THEY’RE IN POSSESSION, THEY COULD BE IN POSSESSION OF DANGEROUS WEAPONS. SO IF YOU MEET THOSE CRITERIA, THEN YOU CAN TAKE AN INDIVIDUAL IN FOR A YELLOW FLAG ASSESSMENT, A WEAPONS RESTRICTION ORDER ASSESSMENT. AND AT THAT TIME, YOUR CRITERIA CHANGE FROM LIKELIHOOD OF SERIOUS HARM TO LIKELIHOOD OF FORESEEABLE HARM…”

ACCORDING TO IT’S WEBSITE – THE MAINE GUN SAFETY COALITION CALLS MAINE’S YELLOW FLAG LAWS WEAK… SAYING “AN ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN IS NECESSARY TO TRY TO PREVENT MORE SUCH TRAGEDIES IN OUR STATE.”

AUTHORITIES SAY THE WEAPONS RESTRICTION ORDER HAS BEEN USED IN MAINE 82 TIMES SINCE FIRST ENACTED IN JULY 2020.

THE LEWISTON SHOOTING IS THE DEADLIEST MASS SHOOTING IN THE HISTORY OF MAINE.