This year, the Maine Legislature passed a bill to install suicide barriers on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Research has shown that these barriers save lives, both in the immediate moment and after. Removing a method through which an individual can take this quick, irreversible action also reduces the likelihood that they will pursue suicide in the future by other means.

I’ve been thinking about this following the mass shooting in Lewiston. Like we did by installing barriers on the bridge, the Legislature must take responsible steps to reduce the potential for tragic and irreversible violent actions. We still have much to learn about what led to the shootings, including whether existing laws simply could have been better applied or whether this event exposed glaring inadequacies in our laws. Regardless, it is clear that our current gun laws in Maine are insufficient.

Maine has a high rate of gun ownership, and the vast majority of gun owners are responsible. There are legitimate reasons people choose to own guns, from hunting to personal protection. Any legislation we pursue should be focused on adding layers of protection from irresponsible individuals or people seeking to cause harm to others or themselves. During my freshman year in the Legislature, I supported several of these bills. One became law, but several others did not.

Looking forward, one measure that could save lives is a “red flag” law, which would allow a person to petition a court to temporarily confiscate another individual’s firearms if that person is deemed a risk to themselves or others. Once evidence is presented about the necessity of the petition, a judge then decides. More than 20 states have laws like these, and research shows they save lives.

Maine currently has a more modest version of this, commonly referred to as a “yellow flag law,” which can only be used by police once a person has been taken into protective custody and received a medical assessment. As of Oct. 25, this law has been used more than 80 times since its implementation, but it can be cumbersome to navigate and challenging to implement. We need to upgrade this law to the standards set in red flag laws in states nationwide.

I also support Congressman Jared Golden’s call for an assault weapons ban, both nationally and in Maine. This would include both military-style assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15. These types of guns have no functional use for hunting or personal protection. They do not belong in the hands of civilians.


Opponents of gun safety legislation often name mental health as the inciting factor for these tragic mass shooting incidents. Last session, I supported a budget that invested millions of dollars in mental health services, helped Mainers suffering from addiction, provided funding for community-based services for those in the juvenile justice system, and much more. There is more we must do, including addressing waitlists for services and treatment beds, and I would invite my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work together on solutions.

However, stigmatizing people who are struggling with mental illness, who are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of it, does nothing to solve the problems we face. It only prevents people from seeking necessary help.

I am a parent with school-aged kids. In this era — post-Sandy Hook, post-Parkland, post-Uvalde — every school drop-off comes with a tinge of fear. Kids across the country go through active shooter trainings, lockdown drills and practice playing the quiet game. They deserve to live without fear of our communities and the people in them.

Safety is never guaranteed, but we can take reasonable steps to reduce risk. Just as erecting barriers on a tall bridge won’t prevent all suicides, but will reduce them.

My heart is with everyone impacted by the Lewiston shootings. My actions as a legislator will be as well.

As always, please feel free to contact me at or call my office at 287-1430 with any concerns you have on this or any issue.

Rep. Marc Malon is serving his first term in the Maine House, representing a portion of Biddeford. He serves as a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and the Labor and Housing Committee.

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