That’s not the stated purpose for his upcoming appearance in Lewiston, of course. The president’s handlers are at least politically savvy enough to avoid any direct call for gun control in announcing his trip. Instead, the White House says Biden will visit Lewiston, Maine on Friday to “pay respects to the victims of this horrific attack and grieve with families and community members, as well as meet with first responders, nurses, and others on the front lines of the response.”
I don’t have any issue with the president going to a community that is reeling from an active shooter attack to provide some comfort and show his concern, but despite Biden’s claim to be the empathizer-in-chief it’s pretty clear that he’s also using his visit to push his political agenda; specifically, a ban on so-called assault weapons.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged Congress, particularly Republicans, to send Biden more legislation to counter this “gun violence epidemic.”
“We’re tired of this. You know, I’m tired of it. The president is tired of it. I’m sure all of you are tired about talking about these horrific mass shootings,” she said. “We know what works. We know there are commonsense legislation that could be put forward right now that can get passed — put it on the floor, put it together — right? — get passed so that we can save lives.”
The murders in Maine absolutely could have been prevented, but not by passing a ban on semi-automatic rifles, a waiting period, a federal “red flag” law, or any other gun control measure that Biden will call for tomorrow. Instead, the president should announce that he’s directing the Secretary of the Army to find out and disclose why the killer was apparently never reported to the NICS system after he was involuntarily committed to an Army hospital earlier this summer. As more details of the months before the attack took place are emerging, it’s become clear that there were plenty of officials who were aware of the threat that the killer posed to the community.
The US Army asked local police to check on the reservist who killed 18 people after a soldier became concerned he would “snap and commit a mass shooting,” according to information shared with CNN.
Officers from the Sagadahoc County and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Offices responded and tried to contact Robert Card on September 16, less than six weeks before last Wednesday’s massacres in a bowling alley and a bar, documents say, according to a law enforcement source.
The information obtained by CNN describes how the Sagadahoc County sergeant called for backup, tried without success to talk to the reservist and then received disturbing details from the Army and the shooter’s family.
The responding sergeant from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office was told “when [he] answers the door at his trailer, in the past he usually does so with a handgun in hand out of view from the person outside,” according to the source familiar with the welfare check report.
The responding officer learned later in a letter from the Army that a soldier “is concerned that [the reservist] is going to snap and commit a mass shooting,” according to the report filed in connection with the wellness check.
Addressing that failure should be Biden’s top priority, but I’d be shocked if he even brings this up on his own. We don’t know if he’ll be taking any questions from the press while he’s on the ground, but I’d say that’s the only way that Biden will end up addressing the issues with the Army’s apparent failure to report the killer’s involuntary commitment to a mental health facility.
I hope I’m wrong and Biden chooses to keep his trip non-political, but I just don’t see that happening. With the head of his new Office of Gun Violence Prevention already on the ground in Lewiston, his administration is already injecting politics into the situation, and I don’t see him passing up the opportunity to stump for an”assault weapons ban” while he’s on the ground in Maine.