Letter to the editor: Jackson Chadwick

The Red Flag Gun Safety Bill and questions for local candidates

Posted:  Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 8:30pm
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Since Election Day is upon us, I would like to share my thoughts regarding a bill in the Maine Legislature this previous session.

On June 20, there was an important vote in the Maine Legislature: The Red Flag Gun Safety Bill, otherwise known as LD 1884.

It’s important to note that there were two versions of this bill. The majority report of LD 1884, which was defeated in the House on a 86-53 vote, would have allowed members of the public and of law enforcement to file a petition with a court for a protection order (lasting 21 days).

The minority report of LD 1884, approved in the house by a 78-60 vote, would allow a court, not members of the public, to order an individual to relinquish control of their firearms for the 21 day duration.

Rep. Owen Casas, of District 94, which includes Camden, Islesboro, and Rockport; Rep. Paula Sutton, of District 95, which includes Appleton, Hope, Union (part), and Warren; and Rep. Abden Simmons of District 91, which includes Friendship, Union (part), Waldoboro, and Washington, all voted against the majority report of the Judiciary Committee regarding LD 1884.

Later that day, the minority report of LD 1884 was approved by the House of Representatives. Rep. Casas voted for it, while Rep. Simmons and Sutton voted no. The Senate later passed the bill.

I ask these three representatives, if they’d like, to share why they voted yes or no on LD 1884. In my personal opinion, I supported the majority report of the bill as opposed to the minority report: The majority report would have been a more sensible bill contrary to what was later approved.

One issue that directly correlates to gun violence is mental health and illness. We hear it often, maybe more so from Republicans than Democrats that, gun violence isn’t about the guns — it’s more about mental illness.

While I disagree with part of that statement, I challenge elected officials who agree with it (but still voted no on both versions of LD 1884) to explain how their actions aren’t hypocritical. In other words, if the bill addresses mental health and illness in an effective way, than why’d you vote against it?

As someone who supports ways to end to gun violence, I’m expressing concern to local officials who voted against this measure. I’m not jumping to any preclusions, but rather letting them speak for themselves. I wonder if they had talked with their constituents, those who supported this bill and those who didn’t, to gain multiple perspectives about this issue. Or, did they only talk with one base of supporters to hear what they wanted to hear. A lot of thoughts have crossed my mind about this, but I want them to have a chance to answer to me, a student, and the general public--their constituents.

I realize this vote happened months ago, but as we head in to the general election, it’s importance still remains. I am currently a freshman at Suffolk University in Boston. I graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School this past June, and I know this issue is still very much on the minds of many students back home.

Jackson Chadwick lives in Camden