There’s been some uncertainty about whether or not the Just-in-Time Recreation Center that was the first target of the killer in Lewiston, Maine actually prohibited firearms from the premises. Under Maine law, establishments in which alcohol is served must post signage banning the carrying of firearms if they want to prohibit them, though consuming alcohol while carrying is illegal regardless of whether the premises are posted.
A citizen journalist and member of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Matthew Strasser, was the first to spot a small sign in a picture of Just-in-Time’s front entrance that was posted online in 2021. As the Crime Prevention Research Center reports:
As we have pointed out many times, mass murderers prefer defenseless victims, gun-free zones. Ninety-four percent of the mass public shootings occur in gun-free zones (updated, detailed discussion here). And [name redacted – Cam] is no different. He apparently picked two gun-free zones to do his attack. The picture here is from 2021. The sign for Just-in-Time Bowling Alley, located at 24 Mollison Way, Lewiston, ME 04240, reads: “We kindly ask that you refrain from bringing firearms in this building and we would appreciate it if you left them in your vehicle. Please keep our atmosphere family friendly.” [Name redacted] murdered seven people (one woman and six men) there. We are working to get a higher-definition picture of the sign. Two sources tell us that the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, located at 551 Lincoln St. Lewiston, Maine, was also a gun-free zone, but we don’t yet have a picture of the sign there.
Heartbreaking. In a bitterly ironic twist, emblazoned across the front doors of Just-in-Time was the phrase “choose your weapon” with “big balls” and “little balls” underneath; referring to the more traditional bowling and old-school New England candlepin bowling.
The polite request to refrain from bringing firearms into the building was likely obeyed by every person who walked through the doors that night… right up until the point the killer showed up.
Did he intentionally pick these targets because they were gun-free zones? Obviously, we can’t know for sure (and may never know, to be honest) but based on his family’s comments about him spending time in both locations and his belief that patrons were mocking and taunting him, I’m not convinced that it was a driving factor in where he decided to kick off his murder spree. Even if he wasn’t motivated to attack Just-in-Time because of its policy, however, the decision to ban lawfully-carried guns from the premises erased any opportunity to meet force with force.
I have no doubt the owners of Just-in-Time had the best of intentions when they posted that sign. I don’t think their decision was part of some Commie plot to disarm America. I’m sure they thought they were just keeping people safe. And to be sure, there’s no guarantee that any of the patrons in the business would have been armed even if there had been no sign on the door. But as the Crime Prevention Research Center reported not long ago, armed citizens put a stop to more than 60% of active shooting incidents that happened outside of “gun-free zones”, much higher than the overall rate of 35.7% percent of all active shooter attacks stopped by armed citizens.
A “No Guns Allowed” sign, no matter how politely or forcefully worded, won’t prevent a killer from crossing the threshold of an establishment any more than an order of protection will prevent an abuser from once again going after their victim. It’s a piece of paper (or maybe plastic, depending on what state you live in), not a suit of armor or bulletproof glass. It’s a “sensitive place” that isn’t sensitive at all, as it turns out; no extra security, no metal detectors, no extra steps to ensure the safety of the people inside at all. Just a sign on the door politely requesting you leave your guns in your car, placed with the best of intentions but completely ignored by anyone with mass murder on their mind.