When visitors were leaving the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, they were greeted by a cheerful sign encouraging them to return in their spare time. Little did they know that just moments later, their lives would be forever changed. Surveillance video captured a man entering the alley armed with a powerful firearm. He opened fire, shooting indiscriminately at the crowd, which included many children. Witnesses thought the loud noise was a balloon popping until they saw the gunman expertly brandishing his weapon.
Panic ensued as people desperately sought shelter. Some hid behind machinery, while others used tables and benches for protection. In the end, the mass shooting left seven people dead at the bowling alley, including one woman. The gunman, however, was not finished. He then drove to Schemengees Bar and Grille, where another tragic scene unfolded. Eight more people were killed, all men, and three others died in the hospital. At least 13 people were injured.
The suspected shooter, Robert Card, a trained firearms instructor and US army reservist, was named as a person of interest. Authorities revealed that Card had a history of mental health problems and had made threats in the past. A massive manhunt was launched to find him, with schools and businesses closing and residents urged to stay indoors.
The tragic incident once again raises questions about the prevalence of mass shootings in the United States. With over 400 million guns in circulation, more than the country's population, the easy availability of firearms is a contributing factor. Maine, with its loose gun laws and absence of red flag laws, allows individuals to carry concealed weapons without a permit and private gun dealers to operate without background checks.
Maine's resistance to implementing even basic gun control measures has drawn criticism, including from renowned author Stephen King, who expressed his frustration with the lack of restrictions on semi-automatic rifles like the one used in the shooting. As the community mourns the loss of innocent lives, the debate on gun control is likely to intensify, once again highlighting the urgent need for action.