On October 25th, 2023, Maine resident and former army reservist Robert Card opened fire at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grill in Lewiston, ME. Eighteen were killed and thirteen were injured. The incident was motivated by delusions that the businesses were “broadcasting” that Card was a pedophile. Card had a severe history of poor mental health, and had been committed to a psychiatric facility for two weeks over the summer. A friend of Card’s contacted the state sometime before September 15th, 2023 with worries that Card was going to “snap and commit a mass shooting.” Previously, Card had threatened to shoot up an army base in Saco, ME, which served as the initial reason for his commitment. In August, his ex-wife Cara Lamb went to the sheriff to warn the community of Card’s violent tendencies and possession of firearms, which he accessed via legal means.
According to the Maine Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there was nothing on Card’s record before the shooting that would have kept him from passing a federal background check to buy a gun. Maine has a “yellow flag” law, stating that police can “temporarily remove guns from people deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others.” However, sign offs from both a judge and a medical provider are required before weapons can be taken away. Authorities have not yet confirmed if a “yellow flag” report was filed on Card.
On October 28th, Robert Card was found dead from an apparent suicide following a two-day manhunt, which involved local law enforcement and upwards of eighty FBI personnel. Facts about the shooting — and the police response — will be determined by an independent commission, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. Mills stated that she wanted to know “what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.”
During the three weeks the United States House of Representatives was without a speaker, 2,030 people died from gun violence — including 15 children and 60 teenagers. The Lewiston shooting has amplified the concerns of gun control activists across the country, and specifically those in states with laws that are more relaxed. Proposals for legislation in the House have stalled under a Republican majority. New House Speaker Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) offered Fox News his perspective on the issue: “The problem is the human heart. It’s not guns, not the weapons.”
Meanwhile, letters have been circulated throughout Capitol Hill asking for support for more comprehensive legislation so that it can be passed as quickly as possible. The letter from the House Democrats, as obtained by CBS News, said, “Although we can never get back the time that was wasted by the chaos caused by the lack of leadership in the House of Representatives, we must not let that dysfunction prevent us from working together to address the gun violence crisis moving forward.”
Representative Jared Goldman (D-ME) was previously an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and relaxed gun laws. However, following the shooting, Goldman expressed a serious change of heart regarding assault weapons; “I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war, like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime,” Golden said, following the incident. “The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston.”
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) who is co-chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, told CBS News, “Change happens when the people of this country want it to happen. We need to keep making sure that people understand that there are things we can do.”
A family assistance center has been established in Lewiston, with help from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the Red Cross, and the FBI Victim Services Division. The Maine Community Foundation has since created the Lewiston Auburn Area Response Fund to address the needs of the community and loved ones of victims. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 565 mass shootings throughout the country. The following is a list of the victims and their ages.
Aaron Young, 14
Thomas Conrad, 34
Maxx Hathaway, 35
Joshua Seal, 36
Peyton Brewer-Ross, 40
Bryan MacFarlane, 41
Arthur Strout, 42
William Young, 44
Stephen Vozzella, 45
William Brackett, 48
Michael Deslauriers, 51
Jason Walker, 51
Tricia Asselin, 53
Ronald Morin, 55
Joseph Walker, 57
Keith Macneir, 64
Lucille Violette, 73
Robert Violette, 76
First-year Gaia Dash is a Contributing Writer. Her email is email@example.com.