“This is about common-sense, reasonable and responsible measures to protect our children, our families, our communities,” Biden said. “Because regardless of our politics, this is about protecting our freedom to go to a bowling alley, a restaurant, a school, a church, without being shot and killed.”
He continued: “As we mourn today in Maine, this tragedy opens painful, painful wounds all across the country. Too many Americans have lost loved ones or survived the trauma of gun violence. I know because Jill and I have met with them in Buffalo, in Uvalde, in Monterey Park, in Sandy Hook ― too many to count. From places that never make the news, all across America.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke about Biden’s feelings ahead of the trip Friday.
“Too many times the president and first lady have traveled to communities completely torn apart by gun violence,” she said. “We can’t accept it as normal.”
Before the address, Biden and the first lady met with first responders, nurses and others on the front lines of the violence.
Shooter Robert Card was known to authorities, many of whom face mounting scrutiny in the aftermath.
Card, a U.S. Army reservist, previously and repeatedly threatened other soldiers, including making a threat to “shoot up” a military base, and was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this summer.
The Maine National Guard had also alerted the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office to Card’s behavior, mentioning in particular concerns that Card would “snap and commit a mass shooting.”
Despite those alerts, police didn’t use their authority to seize Card’s firearms under a “yellow flag” law in the state.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has called for law enforcement to make greater use of the law, saying that in hindsight it was obvious “he should have been separated from his weapons.”
“It certainly seems that on the basis of the facts that we have that the yellow flag law should have been triggered if in fact the suspect was hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness,” Collins said. “That should have triggered the yellow flag law, and he should have been separated from his weapons.”