President Biden Conveys Solidarity to Maine Community Shaken by Tragic Shooting

by Joshua Brown
Maine mass shooting

In a solemn visit to the Maine town traumatized by a devastating mass shooting, President Joe Biden, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, paid their respects with a moment of silence and laid white flowers at an impromptu memorial set up outside Schemengees Bar and Grille, the location of the state’s most deadly shooting incident to date.

The President offered a comforting embrace to Kathy Lebel, proprietor of the bar, which was the scene of eight fatalities during the October 25th tragedy. The adjacent Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley was also a site of the massacre, where seven lives were taken, in addition to three fatalities that occurred at medical facilities.

On his visit to Lewiston last Friday, President Biden fulfilled the role often shouldered by presidents in the wake of such tragedies: providing solace to bereaved families and affirming support for a community in mourning. Regrettably, these visits have become increasingly routine, even after the enactment of bipartisan gun safety legislation last year following yet another mass shooting, and the issuance of several executive orders by the President aiming to reduce gun violence.

“We have been through this far too many times,” President Biden remarked while at the bowling alley, flanked by police officers, emergency medical technicians, and first responders to the shooting. “Jill and I are present to ensure, on behalf of all Americans, that you understand your grief is shared—you are not alone.”

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The shooting spree not only claimed 18 lives but also left 13 individuals wounded. The perpetrator, Robert Card, 40 years old and a gun instructor by profession, was later discovered deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after an extensive manhunt.

Law enforcement revealed that concerns about Card’s deteriorating psychological health had been reported by his family to the local sheriff five months before the tragedy. Card had been subject to a mental health assessment after manifesting erratic behavior at a training establishment the previous summer.

Signage strewn across the town bore messages like “Fix the mental health system” and the succinct plea to “Be nice.” In the hallways of the local elementary school, children’s notes proclaiming “Lewiston strong” and affirmations of safety were displayed.

In a resolute stance against gun violence in America, the Democratic President has incorporated the issue into his reelection campaign. He has established the inaugural gun violence prevention office within the White House, tasked with implementing the recent landmark gun safety law and devising new solutions. A leading member of this office was on site in Maine this week to assist with the federal response. The President has continued to advocate for an assault weapons ban.

“We are dealing with simple common sense,” he expressed on Friday. “Reasonable, responsible actions to safeguard our children, our families, our communities. This transcends political affiliations; it concerns the freedom to visit public places without falling victim to gunfire.”

This incident adds to a series of communities that the President has visited in the aftermath of mass shootings, including Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Monterey Park, California, within the past year.

“With today’s mourning in Maine, the agony reverberates nationwide,” stated President Biden. “An excessive number of Americans have encountered the loss of loved ones or have endured the trauma inflicted by gun violence.”

According to a database compiled by The Big Big News, USA Today, and Northeastern University, the U.S. has witnessed no fewer than 37 mass killings this year, culminating in at least 195 deaths, not counting the deceased assailants.

Local residents continued to visit the memorial at Schemengees throughout the morning. While President Biden’s presence may provide some consolation to the city, residents like John Murphy from New Gloucester lament the tragic circumstances prompting the visit. “It’s unfortunate that the President’s visit is under such somber conditions,” he stated.

Murphy, 70, suggested it might be a long journey towards recovery for the town, praising Maine for its beauty and peacefulness.

Memorials also adorned Just-In-Time, the bowling alley where the fatal events began, with signs declaring “Lewiston Strong! Remembering our loss from October 25, 2023.”

Michele Stapleton from Brunswick welcomed the President’s attention to gun safety. “Having a President who openly addresses gun safety is heartening. Politicians have shied away from this topic for too long,” she remarked.

The recent events have spurred the local populace to seek answers.

Elizabeth Seal, who tragically lost her spouse Josh, shared her frustration about the accessibility of semi-automatic weapons in an interview. “While I normally have no qualms with guns, for traditions like hunting or personal protection, the availability of semi-automatic weapons that can inflict such havoc is bewildering,” she conveyed through an interpreter, hoping for legislative change. “This issue seems uniquely American, not prevalent in other countries.”

An AP/NORC poll indicates that a majority of Americans, regardless of their state’s current gun laws, are in favor of more stringent gun regulations, linking this sentiment to the belief that fewer guns might result in fewer mass shootings.

President Biden was apprised of the massacre amidst a state dinner at the White House in honor of Australia. He took a moment to consult with Maine’s Governor Janet Mills and congressional representatives over the phone. On Friday, Governor Mills and Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline spoke of a community in the process of healing.

“We are a resilient, strong community accustomed to hard work,” Mayor Sheline declared. “Yet, we are unprepared for the deep mourning and sorrow brought by the loss of 18 lives to such senseless violence.”

Long from Washington reported this story. Contributions to this report were made by David Sharp, a writer for The Big Big News in Portland, Maine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maine mass shooting

What was the purpose of President Biden’s visit to Lewiston, Maine?

President Biden visited Lewiston, Maine, to provide comfort to the families of the victims and to show support for a community grieving after the state’s deadliest mass shooting at Schemengees Bar and Grille and the nearby Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley.

How many people died in the mass shooting in Maine?

In the mass shooting that occurred in Maine, a total of 18 people lost their lives, with eight fatalities at Schemengees Bar and Grille, seven at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, and three at hospitals.

What actions has President Biden taken to address gun violence?

President Biden has passed bipartisan gun safety legislation, issued several executive orders to reduce gun violence, created the first White House office of gun violence prevention, and has been advocating for a ban on assault weapons as part of his efforts to combat gun violence in the United States.

What was the community’s reaction to President Biden’s visit?

The community’s reaction was mixed; some people appreciated the President’s presence and the attention to gun safety, while others were saddened that such a visit was necessary due to tragic circumstances. The visit also prompted discussions about gun control and mental health system reforms.

Have there been other mass killings in the U.S. in 2023?

Yes, as of the date of the report, there have been at least 37 mass killings in the United States in 2023, resulting in the loss of at least 195 lives, not including the shooters who died.

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Emily R. November 4, 2023 - 2:26 am

why are semi-automatics even legal this is what happens and then we are all surprised when someone uses them for harm it’s just common sense

Greg H. November 4, 2023 - 7:24 am

everytime this happens we talk about gun laws and mental health, but nothing changes maybe it’s time to really look at what’s causing this violence and address it at the root.

Markus67 November 4, 2023 - 10:24 am

its always “thoughts and prayers” and then we move on till the next one happens when will the cycle actually break? politics aside we need real action on mental health and gun control

Joe Smith November 4, 2023 - 12:38 pm

i think it’s really tough on Biden to keep making these trips, you can tell it weighs on him having to meet with so many grieving families its a side of the presidency we dont think about often

LindaS November 4, 2023 - 1:03 pm

saw the President on TV and his words were comforting, but words arent enough we need change and we need it now, too many people have died already


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