Facts are now emerging in the case of Maine mass shooting suspect Robert Card which suggest a string of failures, and at least one success on the part of a firearms retailer, preceded the Oct. 25 tragedy in Lewiston, Maine that left 18 people dead and 13 injured.
CNN is reporting that the Maine National Guard “asked local police to check on” Card back on Sept. 16, after another soldier reported the suspect’s behavior, apparently indicating a concern Card would “snap and commit a mass shooting.”
The Associated Press reported that police across the state had been alerted in September to watch for Card, but evidently that alert didn’t result in contact with the Army reservist. One lawman, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, did act on the tip he received from the Army Reserve about Card’s threats. He reportedly sent the alert to all law enforcement agencies in Maine, but acknowledged Card apparently could not be located. Merry’s jurisdiction encompasses Bowdoin, where the suspected killer resided. He could not immediately recall any follow-up, but the fact remains law enforcement was aware of Card’s troubles at least a month before the shooting.
There was one report worthy of notice. ABC News is reporting how firearms retailer Coastal Defense Firearms refused to complete the transfer of a suppressor (silencer) Card wanted to purchase because he acknowledged on a federal form he had been committed for a mental health issue. Retailer Rich LaChapelle told the news agency his staff allowed Card to complete the paperwork but when they spotted his answer to the mental health inquiry, they declined to complete the transaction.
At that point, Card left the business.
Ironically, LaChapelle is the president of the Lewiston City Council. As noted by the New York Post, LaChapelle suggested the mayhem could have been worse if Card had obtained the silencer because “survivors would not have been alerted by the sound of the gunfire and failed to seek cover.”
In the aftermath of the deadly rampage, anti-gunners including President Joe Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have called for additional gun controls, including bans on so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines,” waiting periods and other measures.
But the suspected killer’s history shows the waiting period would not have mattered because he apparently legally purchased the rifle prior to his hospitalization, months before the shooting. The background check already exists, and by filling out the paperwork, Card tripped himself up allowing the retailer to deny the silencer purchase.
There is no small irony in that because Biden also called for repeal of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects the firearms industry from junk lawsuits. It was LaChapelle’s business—a firearms dealership—which actually fulfilled its existing legal requirement by refusing to complete the transaction involving the suppressor.
Still, the Biden administration has continued its war on the firearms industry. Fox Business is reporting that the Department of Commerce has halted “most civilian firearm exports” for 90 days, allegedly citing national security concerns.
Card was found dead last Friday evening with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was in the back of a storage trailer about a mile from where his abandoned car was discovered near a boat ramp, several miles south from Lewiston, where the shooting occurred at two separate locations.
Responding to the push for more gun restrictions, the Second Amendment Foundation noted reports that at least one of the businesses targeted by the killer was a “gun-free zone” where patrons were asked to not bring firearms into the premises.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, referring to the suspect’s “recent history of mental health problems,” noted there apparently had been no attempt to confiscate his firearms.
“The suspect’s reported condition this past summer should have made him a prohibited person from gun possession,” Gottlieb said. “The knee-jerk demands from anti-gunners, from Joe Biden on down, to penalize honest citizens amounts to a disgusting exploitation of a horrible tragedy for which one person alone is responsible. Disarming gun owners has never helped prevent a crime in the past, and it certainly won’t prevent tragedies in the future.”
(This article also appeared in TheGunMag.com)