When Psychologists Deflect on Lewiston Shooting

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

The Lewiston killer wasn’t the kind of person where those familiar with him are shocked by what he did. It was very clear that he was mentally disturbed. After all, he’d been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility.


Yet psychologists and psychiatrists there didn’t seem to see any reason to avail themselves of Maine’s “yellow flag” law.

Now, people are human and they make mistakes. The truth is that while we all hear about mass shootings, no one actually thinks the person in front of them will be a mass shooter. Not and be right about it, at least.

So it’s easy to see how the mistake was made.

But it seems that Psychology Today thinks the real problem is that we to do more to take guns from people.

The more law enforcement, attorneys in this field, families, and the public learn about this law, the more it will be utilized for everyone’s safety. The New York State ERPO law and other red flag laws allow everyday citizens to petition the courts for these protective orders specifically to help prevent tragedies like the one in Maine.

Law enforcement in New York and nationwide must receive training about the specifics regarding their particular yellow or red flag laws and act as willing partners to those trying to use them appropriately out of concern for their loved ones and the general public. Without such education and cooperation, much of the value of these protections is lost even in states with the strongest oversight of guns and other weapons.

Data from the Pew Research Center posted as recently as September 2023 indicate that 61 percent of Americans say it is too easy to obtain a gun in the U.S. legally. If this majority joins forces, we should be able to significantly strengthen gun control measures and improve the ability to enforce those already on the books.


First, as I’ve said repeatedly, we don’t determine rights based on popularity polls.

Now, I have to acknowledge that this is a mental health attorney writing, not a psychologist or psychiatrist. However, I find it almost hilarious that once again, people are pretending the reason the laws passed to prevent something like Lewiston and failed is just because the government hasn’t done enough to tell people about them.

Do we have any evidence at all to suggest the psychologists that saw the Lewiston shooter were unaware of Maine’s yellow-flag law?

Any evidence at all?

No? Then why deflect the blame? Yes, this is a mental health attorney, but she’s writing in Psychology Today, which means this is really about allowing psychologists to deflect blame from their own profession and put in on people such as lawmakers and gun rights advocates.

When this law passed in Maine, I have no doubt that word spread throughout the mental health field that this was a thing. After all, they were being empowered to disarm the dangerous. All they had to do was file for a yellow flag order and the potential killer would have his guns taken away.

Sure, memory of it might fade, but I’d be shocked if there are that many people in psychology in Maine who didn’t know about the law.

But, as a profession, psychologists don’t want to get blamed.


Some are real enough to note that they actually aren’t to blame because it wasn’t their patient. That’s completely correct and anyone blaming them is an idiot.

Yet some who believe they speak for the profession as a whole also feel like they have to defend the profession from something 99.999 percent of the profession had nothing to do with and even those who made the wrong call aren’t really to blame for what happened.

That won’t stop some from feeling the need to deflect, to make it someone else’s fault. If only we’d tripped over ourselves and spent millions in taxpayer money to make sure people in particular fields were “educated” in how to take people’s guns away.

It’s kind of disgusting.

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