Siege Mentality

On June 8 in Kittery, Maine, 60 year-old Michael Flaherty called relatives to say €œgoodbye € after surrounding himself with guns and ammunition and making €œdirect threats to kill family members and the police should they arrive. €

At 11:00 a.m. that morning police responded to a domestic disturbance call from Flaherty €™s wife and forced entry into the family €™s home after hearing cries for help. They found Flaherty and members of his family wrestling over a loaded .44-caliber Magnum revolver. Flaherty was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a second loaded .25-caliber handgun in his possession.

Thankfully, police were able to gain possession of the guns and subdue Flaherty before anyone got hurt. After searching the residence, police discovered €œadditional firearms at various entry points around the house with ammunition nearby as if they were ready for use. € All told, police seized a total of four rifles, two shotguns, two handguns, and several hundred rounds of ammunition. According to Sergeant Daniel Soule of the Kittery Police Department, it appears that Flaherty €œwas ready for a standoff. Everyone was fortunate in that no one was hurt. Praise goes to the officers, but also to the family members. €

Flaherty now faces charges of criminal threatening, and domestic violence-related reckless conduct, which were elevated to felonies due to the presence and use of firearms. He is currently being held at the York County jail on $20,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on July 30.

Reports have revealed that Flaherty held concealed carry permits in the states of Maine and New Hampshire. Both are “shall-issue” states, meaning that local law enforcement must issue applicants a permit to carry a concealed handgun if they pass a basic computerized background check. Apparently, Flaherty did not have a criminal record that would have prevented him from passing those checks. In terms of mental health issues, only a previous involuntary commitment or adjudication by a court deeming an individual €œmentally defective € would bar that person from possessing or purchasing guns under federal law. Unfortunately, the states have yet to forward 9 out of 10 of these disqualifying mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) run by the FBI.

One thing is sure: Michael Flaherty did not just wake up one Monday morning and decide to kill himself and his family. He had prepared carefully for his siege. Laws which prohibit law enforcement from examining individuals €™ backgrounds in detail when they purchase firearms or obtain permits to carry concealed weapons might further the agendas of gun lobby groups, but do little or nothing to protect the public. Thanks to the brave and rapid response of the Kittery police to this incident, no one was killed or injured. Sadly, this is frequently not the case when disturbed individuals gain easy access to firearms.

Follow Us