President Biden will travel to Maine on Friday to pay tribute to the 18 people killed and dozens more wounded during a gunman’s rampage through a bar and bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, last week, the White House announced.
Shortly after the massacre, Mr. Biden said he was frustrated by the loss of more lives in mass shootings. The gunman, Robert R. Card II, 40, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday, two days after the killings.
“Once again, the American community and American families have been destroyed by gun violence,” Mr. Biden said on Friday as the discovery of Mr. Card’s body ended a massive manhunt and shutdown in the state. “In all, at least 18 souls brutally killed, more injured, some in critical condition, and a large number of families and friends who are praying and experiencing trauma that no one wants to imagine.”
The White House said in a statement that the president and first lady “will honor the victims of this horrific attack and mourn with their families and community members.” The president will also meet with emergency medical workers, nurses and other officials, the White House said.
The visit is also likely to be an opportunity for the president to repeat his call for an assault weapons ban and stricter gun control and mental health measures that have been blocked by Republicans and several Democrats on Capitol Hill.
In his statement last week, Mr. Biden said, “Once again, I call on Republicans in Congress to fulfill their duty to protect the American people.” But with Republicans in charge of the House and Democrats in only narrow control of the Senate, any attempt to pass major gun control legislation is bound to fail.
Maine has a high rate of hunting and gun ownership and has failed to comply with “red flag” laws in other states that allow police to take guns from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others.
Instead, Maine has a “yellow flag” law that requires police, a mental health clinician and a judge to agree that an individual poses a danger before a firearm can be confiscated.
The president’s visit will come as law enforcement officials in Maine scramble to explain why nothing was done to stop Mr. Card’s rampage even though officials in his reserve unit warned officials of his deteriorating mental health.
Mr. Card’s family members and military officials in Saco, Maine, told officials from the Sheriff’s Office in Sagadahoc County, where Mr. Card lived, that he had become increasingly paranoid, punched a friend and said he was going to go on a shooting spree.
But despite those warnings, authorities do not appear to have ever contacted Mr. Card, who carried out the deadliest mass shooting this year.
The president was already scheduled to travel to Delaware on Friday, as he has been for most of the weekend. White House officials did not provide details on when he will leave Washington or whether he intends to keep his weekend plans.