The 18 people killed in the Lewiston shooting, the deadliest in the U.S. so far this year, have been identified. They ranged in age from 14 to 76. Among them were employees of the bar and bowling alley that were targeted, a bowling coach, a shipbuilder, and members of the local deaf community, who regularly gathered at the bar to play cornhole. [Associated Press/CNN]
The alleged shooter was found dead Friday evening, according to state Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck, capping off an intensive two-day search that forced residents to shelter in place. [NPR]
Before the massacre, there were apparently several signs of the alleged shooter’s capacity for mass violence: In September, said law enforcement sources, the Maine National Guard asked local police to check on the suspect, an Army reservist, after a soldier aired concerns the man might “snap”; police said the suspect had recently been sent to a mental health facility after apparently threatening to “shoot up” a military base; and nearly three months ago, a gun shop declined to let the suspected gunman purchase a silencer for a rifle because he disclosed on a form that he had mental health issues, per the store’s owner. [CNN/Associated Press/ABC/The New York Times]
Just hours before the mass murder in Lewiston, the U.S. Senate adopted an amendment that would bar the Department of Veterans Affairs from submitting the names of people in its fiduciary program — essentially, a conservatorship for veterans deemed “mentally incompetent” to manage their benefits — to the FBI’s background check system, unless a judge deems them a danger to themselves or others. [Roll Call/Congressional Research Service]
Several gun stores in the Lewiston area opened their doors on Thursday despite the shelter-in-place order. Dealers have since reported an abnormally high number of firearm sales. “We’re seeing the fear,” said one store owner. [The Washington Post]
Maine Gun Laws
In Maine, which suffered the deadliest mass shooting in its history last week, guns are a fact of life. The state has high rates of gun ownership, yet mass shootings were virtually unheard of — until last Wednesday, when a gunman attacked a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, killing 18 people. Now, after the tragedy, residents and lawmakers in Maine are grappling with the fact that their corner of the country isn’t immune to such violence after all.
The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee explain why Maine’s relaxed gun laws differ from its neighbors in the Northeast — and whether it’s possible they could change.
Understanding Mass Shootings
Mass shootings have become so frequent in the U.S. that we are often left with the feeling that random, indiscriminate gunfire can happen anywhere, without warning. But the shootings that dominate national attention for days or weeks are only a fraction of the high-fatality shootings occurring nearly every day in America. In her latest piece, The Trace’s Olga Pierce shares an overview of the most important things to know about mass shootings, and explains how these tragic events fit into America’s larger gun violence crisis.
What to Know Today
ICYMI: The candidates campaigning to succeed the late Senator Dianne Feinstein of California are vying to replace the lawmaker who helped shepherd the 1993 Brady Bill, which established the federal background checks system, and who authored the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Where do the hopefuls stand on guns? [The Trace]
The Commerce Department is temporarily halting exports of most American-made civilian firearms — with exceptions for Ukraine, Israel, and some countries in an export-control agreement — and conducting a review to assess the “risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities.” In the past 20 years, international sales of U.S.-made firearms have skyrocketed, with many firearms exported to countries plagued by high levels of gun crime. [Bloomberg Politics/Reuters]
Gun violence isn’t just a city problem — many rural Americans experience higher rates of gun death than their big-city counterparts. That’s evident in Wisconsin, where gun deaths have been steadily rising in the past 18 years, driven in large part by suicides in the state’s rural and suburban counties. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
Last year, the National Rifle Association saw its worst fundraising totals in more than a decade, according to a financial audit, largely due to plummeting membership. Income from members has been halved in just six years, while the gun group continues to spend millions on protracted legal battles. [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington]
Federal authorities had been keeping tabs on Craig Robertson — a lifelong gunsmith who posted a death threat against President Joe Biden on Facebook, and, to his friends, a retiree who walked with a cane and went to church every Sunday — for months before FBI agents shot and killed him in August during a raid at his home in Utah. His death has been turned into two divergent narratives that illustrate America’s political divide. [Politico]
If gun violence is a key social crisis of our time, why don’t we have more science about how to stop it? Part of the problem: In 1996, Congress imposed funding restrictions on gun violence research. [The Guardian]
An overwhelming majority of American adults want to improve safety measures to prevent gun violence at schools, but the approaches they support diverge starkly along partisan lines. Republicans tend to more strongly support hardening schools, and Democrats veer toward social and emotional measures. [NPR]
Scott Jenkins, the hard-right “constitutional” sheriff of Culpeper County, Virginia, is under indictment for allegedly accepting cash and campaign contributions in exchange for appointing people as auxiliary deputies and helping them get access to guns. He’s running for reelection anyway — even as his criminal trial looms and his local Republican Committee backs another candidate. [Bolts]
At least 11 — the number of mass shootings, defined as four or more people shot (excluding the shooter), over Halloween weekend. [Gun Violence Archive via CNN]