582. That is how many mass shootings, defined by the Gun Violence Archive as an incident in which four or more victims are shot or killed, have happened in the United States in 2023 at the time of this article’s writing. Since the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, another incident in Ybor City, just an hour north of New College, claimed two lives on Oct 29.
The perpetrator’s name will not be used in this story to avoid naming shooters, which can perpetuate media glorification of mass killings.
The tragedy in Lewiston is the highest casualty shooting in the United States this year, and the largest in Maine’s history, with 18 people killed in a single afternoon at two different locations.
The shooting started at the Just-In-Time recreation facility during a children’s bowling league event, where seven were killed. The shooter moved on to Schemengees Bar and Grille, where eight people were killed. Several others died while receiving care in local hospitals.
The terror for the people of Lewiston didn’t end after the shooting at Schemengees, as the shooter evaded police for two days, with his whereabouts completely unknown, before his body was discovered with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Oct. 27.
The approximate two-day span in which the shooter could not be located had law enforcement scrambling to find him before another town was made victim. Nearby towns in Maine saw public offices and private businesses closed while American authorities coordinated with Canadian border police to prevent the shooter from fleeing the country.
The high number of casualties can be attributed to the shooter’s training as an Army reservist and firearm instructor. He surrounded his life with ideas of killing and training to kill.
Like the shooter who committed the hate crime mass shooting in Buffalo in 2022, there were several warning signs reports of alarming thoughts and behaviors associated with the Lewiston shooter.
The Army had seen what it described as “erratic behavior” and had suggested that the shooter should not have access to firearms or participate in live fire exercises in the Reserves.
The shooter had also spent two weeks in a New York psychiatric hospital after getting into a confrontation with other reservists and discussing indiscriminate violence.
Additionally, Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office personnel had been sent to do two different welfare checks on the shooter after another reservist expressed fears of him killing others. This is not the first time law enforcement has not intervened after early reports of disturbing behaviors by mass shooters, and potentially preventable shootings keep piling up dead Americans tragedy after tragedy.
While mass shootings are an almost uniquely American problem, with the United States making up 73 percent of global mass shootings from 1998 to 2019, other countries have dealt with this issue and put an end to it.
While Americans might get inundated with the same tired talking points on mental health, or that other countries deal with this too, the United Kingdom and Australia are similarly developed countries that effectively ended mass shootings within their borders. After the Dunblane and Port Arthur massacres, both countries also immediately instituted strict laws such as banning fully and semi-automatic weapons, self-defense not being a qualifier for gun ownership and the banning of private ownership of all handguns. Australia saw a 72 percent drop in gun violence by 2014 in the two decades following Port Arthur.