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Maine Mass Shooter Bought Gun Legally, Didn't Lose It Two Weeks Later When He 'Heard Voices'
That might have been a good thing to do.
Robert Card, who shot and killed 18 people in Lewiston, Maine this week, was found dead of suicide in his truck last night.
It now turns out that he bought the Ruger SFAR he used to kill all of those people legally, in a shop, a mere two weeks before the Army sent him to a military hospital for psychiatric treatment after he was hearing voices.
That’s not good. It’s not good that he was able to get the gun in the first place, and it’s not good that it was not taken away from him after he was committed.
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He could have been, technically. The state trooper who transported Card to the military hospital could have sought an emergency risk protection order that would have allowed the police to take his guns until he was no longer a threat to himself or others. Maine has more of a yellow flag law than a red flag law — meaning that there are multiple steps to the process, it doesn’t allow authorities to act quickly in the event of an emergency and it is therefore largely useless — but it could have been done. One of the more difficult steps is being evaluated by mental health professional, which would have been a lot easier considering where he was going.
But the state trooper did not do that.
There are also a whole lot of gun control laws that could have prevented this from as well, as we all know.
Now, we should all be aware now that those who have mental illnesses are far more at risk of violence themselves than at risk of committing it. That being said, it seems like an objectively bad idea to send someone from the psych ward to a place where they have access to a gun, particularly if they have what appears to be a delusional disorder.
The problem with owning a gun in the first place is the fact that it’s there and it’s available and it’s an option. It is an option that would not be there otherwise. If someone is worked up in a rage or is horribly depressed or having a psychotic episode … it’s there and it’s fast and easy and effective in a way that nothing else is. Without access to that gun, Robert Card probably would not have gone out and just stabbed 18 people. That is slower, it takes more effort and is a whole lot harder to do without someone stopping you.
It is objectively absurd that we don’t register guns for this exact reason. Because if someone is having such a severe episode that they are committed to an institution, there needs to be some way to check if they own a gun before they are sent home.
We still don’t know why Card did what he did — one source said he was looking for his ex — but there’s no real explanation so far. But the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the “how.” Because this did not have to happen. These people did not have to die. We let them die because we did not, as a country, do what was necessary to prevent that.
I say this a lot, and it’s harsh, but the given the way we do war in this country? The only people who really “die for anyone’s freedoms” are those who die in mass shootings. Gun owners should thank them and their families for their sacrifice, because that is exactly what this is. The lives of those 18 people were sacrificed so that any douchebag can have access to any gun they want with zero restrictions or inconveniences. The kind of inconveniences that just might make someone decide to stay home and watch TV instead of going on a killing spree.
(Don’t worry, this is not the open thread)