As of this writing, Robert Card, the prime suspect in the Lewiston, Maine mass shooting, has not yet been arrested. Last night, Maine State Police announced that Card “recently reported mental health issues to include hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard base in Saco, ME. Card was also reported to have been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks during the summer of 2023 and subsequently released.”
Assuming all of this is true, the Maine mental health and criminal justice systems will have some explaining to do. This is beginning to appear to be another systemic failure on the part of government along the lines of the those that led to the Sutherland Springs shooting.
Much will depend on when Card acquired his gun and whether his commitment was reported to the FBI. The DOJ paid families and survivors of the Sutherland Springs shooting $144 million for its failures in that case.
A mental health commitment should require the government entity handling it to confirm the individual is not armed, and if it is proven they dropped the ball on that, they should have full liability to the victims and their families.
As for background checks, the government should finally make the NICS system available as an app that anyone can access on their phones. It is ridiculous this still hasn’t been done in 2023.
I envision it working like this . . .
1. The individual buying a gun from you gives you a unique code.
2. You type it in and get an “all clear” and proceed with the sale.
3. This would be an optional system. However, using it before transferring a gun becomes an affirmative defense to any charges of knowingly selling a gun to a prohibited person.
Most Americans selling guns in private transactions don’t want to sell to nutjobs or criminals. But they also don’t want to put up with what can be abusive state-level background checks.
California charges nearly $40 for such transfers and requires the buyer and seller to go to a gun store to do it (and the buyer must return again ten days later to pick up the firearm). Also, using this optional system should also allow the user to bypass state-level background check laws like California’s.
Keep your eye on the reports surrounding Card’s threats, his commitment, and his firearms once Card is finally apprehended.
Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit https://crpa.org/.