Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has been meeting with other senators and used a congressional hearing to promote passage of legislation similar to Maine’s yellow flag gun law as a way to prevent mass shootings like the massacre Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The Republican raised the issue Tuesday night, just hours after 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine Manuel Balce Ceneta, file/Associated Press

“The brutal attack on school children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, is a horrific crime,” Collins said in a statement. “Although we are still waiting for more details, it is hard to believe that someone who would do this was not severely mentally ill. Congress should look at enacting a yellow flag law based on the one we have in Maine, which has due process rights and also involves a medical professional in the decision.”

On Wednesday, Collins’ office said the senator was working on gun safety legislation with a bipartisan group of senators. Collins, a moderate who has been known to cross party lines, spoke with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, Wednesday morning. The senators discussed the possibility of introducing yellow and red flag legislation, said Annie Clark, Collins’ spokesperson.

Maine’s so-called “yellow flag” law was the result of a bipartisan compromise. It creates a process for police to temporarily take guns away from people who are in danger of hurting themselves or others. Unlike other states with similar laws, Maine requires a medical practitioner to sign off on the request. That provision was key to broad legislative support for the bill in 2019.

Extreme risk protection orders, sometimes called red flag laws, allow family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a temporary removal of weapons from a person who poses a risk to themselves or others. Nineteen states currently have red flag laws, including Republican-controlled states such as Florida and Indiana.


Murphy has become an outspoken proponent of gun control following the massacre of 20 students and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

He represented Newtown during his time as a U.S. congressman and delivered a passionate speech on the floor of the Senate following the shooting Tuesday.

“What are we doing?” Murphy asked, urging his colleagues to find a compromise.

“I’m here on this floor to beg – to literally get down on my hands and knees – to beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said.

Murphy said he wasn’t trying to bully his Republican colleagues into enacting legislation. “I know I have Republican partners,” he told Politico. “I know there’s 10 Republicans that will vote for something under the right circumstances, with the right leadership.”

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, negotiated a red flag measure following two mass shootings that took place in San Antonio and Dayton, Ohio, in 2019. But their bill failed to garner the 60 Senate votes necessary for passage.


After talking to Murphy, Collins spent part of an Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray about gun safety legislation that could be enacted to prevent further tragedies.


At the hearing, Collins promoted Maine’s yellow flag gun law, which permits law enforcement to temporarily confiscate weapons from someone who is threatening to harm themselves or others. In order for the gun to be confiscated, the actions must be approved following a medical evaluation and authorization from a court – steps that are designed to protect Second Amendment rights.

Collins asked Wray his opinion of how successful red flag and yellow flag laws have been. Wray told Collins that those laws have proven to be mostly effective in preventing gun violence.

“In the situations where law enforcement has been successful at preventing an attack, it’s almost always thanks to somebody like that coming forward,” Wray said, referring to individuals who noticed a change in a person’s behavior that alarmed them and which persuaded them to contact law enforcement.

“What we really need right now in this country is if you see something (unusual) about somebody, say something, and if they do, whether it’s through statutes like the one on Maine or through some other mechanism, that can be quite effective,” Wray said.

The FBI director said that if more states were to adopt red or yellow flag laws, the FBI would ensure that its database would keep records of people whose weapons were temporarily confiscated.

Murphy asked Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, to give a small bipartisan group of senators, including Collins, another 10 days to come up with proposed gun safety legislation – a request that Schumer granted. That will give Murphy and Collins this week and all of next week during the Senate break to come up with legislation.

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