President Joe Biden called the mass shooting in Maine “another senseless and tragic” event and urged residents to “heed the warnings and instructions of local officials” as the suspect remains at large.
He also said the federal government is not doing enough to deter such events and urged Republicans in Congress to work with him on legislation to ban assault rifles and expand background checks.
“Today, in the wake of another tragedy, I call on Republican lawmakers in Congress to fulfill their duty to protect the American people.” Work with us to pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, establish universal background checks , to require the safe storage of weapons and to eliminate liability for weapon manufacturers.
“This is the least we owe every American who will now bear the scars – physical and psychological – of this latest attack.”
At least 18 people were killed in Maine in mass shootings Wednesday night at Sparetime Recreation and Schemenges Bar and Grille in Lewiston. According to Maine Governor Janet Mills, 13 people were injured.
President Biden calls shooting in Maine ‘senseless’
And White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that more needed to be done.
‘That’s not normal. We cannot accept that. There have been literally hundreds of mass shootings in the last year alone, leaving empty seats at dinner tables across the country. And those who survive these heinous acts are left with both physical and mental scars,” she said.
“We need to ensure that weapons of war are not present in the community.” “We need to take more action that is common sense, gun laws that the majority of Americans want to see,” she said. “And so it is the job of House Republicans to listen to their constituents and to Americans across the country.”
Biden left the state dinner in Australia on Wednesday evening to be briefed by his advisers on the recent mass shooting.
He also called Maine officials — Gov. Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden — to offer federal assistance.
The president also left the state dinner early, shortly after 10 p.m. Biden is using his executive power to push to combat gun violence as legislative efforts stall on Capitol Hill.
In 2022, Congress passed a comprehensive gun control law, but it did not include all of the items Biden had pushed for. It expanded background checks and allocated millions of dollars for mental health services and school safety initiatives.
Biden has voiced support for reinstating the nationwide ban on assault weapons, but with Republicans now in control of the House and Democrats controlling the Senate, passing legislation on Capitol Hill is a difficult prospect.
In addition to his statement Thursday, Biden ordered flags at the White House and federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff through Oct. 30.
Mills said she spoke twice with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris about the shooting.
Harris said Thursday that Lewiston is another community torn apart by senseless gun violence.
“Doug and I mourn those killed and mourn those injured,” she said.
“We must continue to tell the truth about today,” she said, noting that gun violence is the leading cause of death.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, as our friends in Australia have shown,” she noted in a State Department statement.
Other officials expressed support for the victims and their families with Republican statements that focused on prayers.
New House Speaker Mike Johnson said: “Our condolences go out to everyone involved.”
“This is a dark time in America.” We have many problems and are truly full of hope and prayer. “In a time like this, prayer is appropriate,” he told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday morning.
“So that’s the statement this morning on behalf of the entire House of Representatives. ‘Everyone wants this to end and I’m going to leave it at that.’
Police have named previously assigned Army Reserve firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. Card is from Bowdoin and his car was found abandoned in Lisbon shortly after the shooting
The gunman targeted Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston around 7 p.m. Wednesday before shooting at the nearby Schemengees Bar and Grille
A woman is hugged by a man at an Auburn Middle School reunification center after shootings in Lewiston, Maine
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called for the suspect to be brought to justice.
“I was devastated to hear the news of a fatal shooting in Lewiston, Maine last night. “I know the entire Senate stands behind our colleagues, Senator Collins and Senator King, as they help their state organize its response,” he said.
“We pray especially for the victims of this senseless violence, for their families and for the police personnel who are working tirelessly to save lives and bring the suspect to justice.”
The suspect remained at large overnight, prompting a massive manhunt and lockdown across the state.
Police have named previously assigned Army Reserve firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. Card is from Bowdoin and his car was found abandoned in Lisbon shortly after the shooting.
The FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals are providing investigative assistance and victim assistance services in connection with the shootings in Maine, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Thursday.
“I am heartbroken for those who lost loved ones, for those who were injured and for the entire Lewiston community,” he said. “No community should have to endure the horrific mass shootings that have become routine in our country.”
Author Stephen King responded to the shootings in two posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday morning.
“The shootings occurred less than 50 miles from where I live. I attended high school in Lisbon. It’s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing murder apologists,” he wrote.
Stretchers are lined up outside the emergency room at Central Maine Medical Center following shootings in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Biden left the state dinner honoring Australia to brief his advisers on the shooting before returning. However, he later left dinner early
Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine
No permit is required to carry weapons in Maine, and the state has a long-standing culture of gun ownership tied to its traditions of hunting and sport shooting.
The gunman opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley around 7 p.m. Wednesday before aiming at Schemengees Bar and Grille about four miles away.
The suspect is considered “armed and dangerous,” Mills said at a news conference Thursday morning.
The shooting in the state’s second-largest city is the 36th Mass murder in the United States this year, according to a Database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in collaboration with Northeastern University.
In a police bulletin, the suspect, Card, is described as a firearms instructor, believed to be in the Army Reserve, assigned to a training facility in Saco, Maine.
The document, which was distributed to law enforcement officials, said Card was admitted to a psychiatric facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023.
No details were given about his treatment or condition, but Card reported hearing “voices and threats to shell the military base.”