Letter: Balentine is wrong about red-flag law

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John Balentine contends a red-flag bill before the Legislature is unnecessary because studies show that mass murderers are infrequently diagnosed as mentally ill and the bill only reinforces the stigma of mental illness. But LD 1844 specifically states that a diagnosis of mental illness alone is insufficient grounds for obtaining a protection order. It provides an opportunity to seek a court order based upon testimony and findings of fact (not whim or hearsay) to remove guns from any person who presents an imminent or substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death. If it is true that mass shooters are infrequently diagnosed with a mental illness, as Balentine contends, mass shooters frequently demonstrate signs of serious mental health concerns prior to the attack.

LD 1844 addresses other concerns as well. First, domestic violence. In 2015 Maine ranked ninth in the nation in the rate of women killed by men. Between 2003 and 2012, 44 percent of female homicide victims in Maine were killed in a domestic violence incidents, and 66 percent of all these homicides were committed with a gun. Second, suicide. Firearms account for more than 50 percent of suicide deaths in Maine. Suicide attempts with guns are fatal 85 percent of the time, but of those who survive an initial attempt using other means, only 10 percent later commit suicide, according to the Giffords Law Center.

LD 1884 provides an opportunity to prevent many types of gun violence. And the NRA supports extreme-risk protection orders.

Polly Haight Frawley