The New York Times (NYT) reported on President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Lewiston, Maine to visit the families of the recent mass shooting, the deadliest one this year. The President spoke to families calling for “reasonable, responsible measures,” not for increased gun control measures.
The most unfortunate part of this whole ordeal is that it was almost entirely preventable. The Army Reserves were aware of Robert Card’s mental health issues and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s office was notified by the reserves of his declining mental status but did nothing. The Sheriff’s office instead was trusting “that his family would be able to remove his guns,” resulting in a massive dereliction of duty by the sheriff’s office; so much for trust.
But the main issue is that it has gone wrong in every part of the ordeal and with local law. His mental decline was known and law enforcement did nothing, in part by choice. Unlike many states, Maine does not have a red flag law, but a yellow flag law. This yellow flag law would require law enforcement, assuming they do not have a lot of faith in the family, to have the person of concern be medically examined and taken to court. This makes any prevention of harm needlessly cumbersome and does nothing for public safety in the process.
As Biden is visiting on his thoughts and prayers tour, he called for “common sense” gun reform and according to the NYT, “to urge Americans to seek consensus.”
Though I am extremely sympathetic to all of those who lost friends and family in this terrible event, the soft and mushy “thoughts and prayers” façade is so draining. The United States has a gun problem and we as a nation need to address it head on. We have been tiptoeing around the issue for the better part of 20 years and have nothing to show for it but a list of lost souls so long it’s dizzying. As a country, we need to move to make red flag laws nationwide, making it easier for people concerned about a friend or loved one to get help from law enforcement. We need to make access to healthcare, including mental healthcare, a right so that folks struggling can get the help that they want and need, especially veterans like Card. Democrats and Republicans alike talk about their love and support for veterans, but there is no movement in policy. If they truly care for veterans they need to get themselves in gear and increase funding for healthcare, so they get the support they deserve. This is the number of mass shootings globally from 1998 – 2019, according to data gathered by Wisevoter, for the top three nations: France with 8, Russia with 21, and the United States with 101. As a nation we need to fix this problem and fix it now. Thoughts and prayers have done us no good and it’s time we try another solution.
Timothy Fitzpatrick can be contacted at