Sister of Lewiston Victim Calls Out Legislature Over 11th Hour Anti-Gun Push

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

The state of Maine doesn't have a red flag law. They have what's termed a yellow flag law, which is really a terrible name for it. It still looks for so-called red flags, it just limits who can seek an order disarming an individual to those who are actually trained to know what to look for.

In the case of Lewiston, the system didn't work like it should have. People didn't take the steps to disarm the clearly disturbed individual who eventually became a mass murderer.

Which has lawmakers trying an 11th-hour push to change the law. They want a red flag law, which would allow a lot of people who don't know any better to petition for an order to disarm an individual despite their lack of applicable expertise.

Yet there's one voice in particular opposing this, one that should get a lot of press but likely won't. She's the sister of a victim slain in the Lewiston massacre.

The sister of one of the victims of the deadliest shooting in Maine history accused lawmakers of acting “nefariously” by pressing at the 11th hour of the legislative session for a so-called red flag law that could be used to take away guns from someone experiencing a psychiatric crisis. Others, however, said such a law could have saved lives.

Testimony stretched into a second day as a legislative committee heard public testimony Tuesday on the proposal that aims to let family members or others petition a judge to initiate the process of temporarily removing someone's guns during a psychiatric crisis instead of letting police handle the process under the state's existing “yellow flag” law.

Jill Walker, a licensed clinical social worker whose brother Jason was killed during the mass shooting, delivered an impassioned plea for lawmakers to reject the proposal. She said the yellow flag process is adequate, if used properly.

“I am disturbed that some members of the Maine Legislature have seized the opportunity to nefariously use the Oct. 25 tragedy for a political end,” Walker told the Judiciary Committee. “It's my personal opinion that this was rushed,” she added.

Walker is probably right. Lewiston, like so many other cases, illustrates that no system is going to stop all mass shootings. After all, how many have occurred in states with full-out red flag laws? Colorado Springs and Jacksonville are two that stand out in my mind as I'm writing this.

Walker used the word "nefariously" to describe this effort, and she's right.

Maine has an incredibly safe track record. Their total number of homicides in 2023 was 53. That's a slow weekend in Chicago as it is, and 18 of those murders were because of Lewiston. The last thing they need is a red flag law.

But anti-gun lawmakers there have been stymied time and time again in their efforts to make the state far more restrictive. The truth is that while Maine is a blue state, they're not clamoring for gun control, and that drives some of these lawmakers bonkers.

Lewiston gave them an excuse.

Gov. Janet Mills offered up a series of proposals that directly addressed Lewiston. I didn't like them, but they weren't as bad as they could have been, either. They were also limited in scope, such as refining the yellow flag process.

But anti-gunners see an opportunity. They're going to leverage Lewiston for everything they can because it's literally the only chance they have.

There's not likely to be another Lewiston no matter what happens. Maine just isn't the kind of place where this is common and it's not likely to become common. If anti-gunners fail to seize on this, they'll miss their one shot.

And Walker is calling them out on it.

Look, I don't know her politics. I don't care about her politics. What I know is that she's calling shenanigans on these actual shenanigans and I'm glad to see it.