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Lewiston Mass Killing Sparks Debate Over State Firearm Policies

40-year-old military reservist Robert Card ruthlessly shot and killed eighteen residents of Lewiston, Maine, on Oct. 25. This event was categorized as the deadliest shooting in the state’s history. 

A diligent search followed the attack, during which all Lewiston residents were told to stay home. After two days, local police found Card’s dead body in a local recycling center. Authorities believe Card’s death was self-inflicted.

During a press conference held shortly after Card’s body was identified, Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said that there was no clear motive for the killings and that they were a result of the shooter’s mental illness. Card had multiple mental health-related incidents over the last year. Notably, he was sent for a mental health evaluation after hearing voices in his head telling him to “shoot up” his military reserve base. 

Despite a documented history of his mental health problems, Card legally acquired the gun he used on Oct. 25, leading to widespread debate over Maine’s historically lenient gun laws. 

The main argument which has now emerged is that a “red flag” law, which prohibits individuals at risk of harming themselves or others from owning a gun, would have prevented the tragic shooting. Only twenty-one states have adopted some form of a “red flag” law. 

“Evidently, stricter policies are a necessity to lower risk of instances like this from reoccurring,” junior Maya Seltzer, head of the SAVE Promise club, which focuses on education about gun policies, wrote via email. “This trivial ‘background check’ is plainly just as effective as no background check at all, and entitles too many people to the possession of a gun.” 

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