LEWISTON, MAINE (WHDH) – A Maine congressman on Thursday promised to use his time left in Congress to push for a ban on assault rifles after Wednesday’s mass shootings in his hometown of Lewiston.

Jared Golden, a Democrat, represents Maine’s Second Congressional District. He was in Lewiston on Thursday, himself grappling with his previous position on gun control. 

“I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle he used to carry out this crime,” Golden said. “The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”

Maine Governor Janet Mills said the shootings at a Lewiston restaurant and bowling alley killed at least 18 people. More than a dozen other people were injured. 

Authorities identified 40-year-old Robert Card first as a person of interest and later as a suspect in the shooting. Card remained at large as of Thursday afternoon as law enforcement from numerous agencies searched for him. 

Golden addressed the situation in Lewiston in an initial statement on X Wednesday. In a later post Thursday afternoon, Golden said he was returning home to see his family before joining state and local officials at a briefing. 

“I ask for forgiveness and support as I seek to put an end to these shootings,” Golden told reporters. 

Investigators have shared photos of a gunman in connection with the shootings. Investigators said the photos show Card holding a high-powered rifle that he allegedly used in the attacks.

Speaking with 7NEWS, Stop Handgun Violence Co-Founder John Rosenthal said this incident “was absolutely preventable.”

“But, in Maine, they don’t have the tools to prevent it,” he continued. 

Stop Handgun Violence is a Massachusetts advocacy group. According to the group, Maine does not ban high-capacity guns or require background checks or permits to buy and carry such a weapon.

“Maine is one of the worst offenders,” Rosenthal said. “There are virtually no gun laws in Maine.” 

Unlike Massachusetts, Maine does not have a “Red Flag Law,” which allows a judge to temporarily take a person’s guns away if family members report that they pose a risk to themselves or others. 

While Maine lacks Red Flag legislation, Massachusetts lawmakers recently voted to strengthen the state’s law. 

“Now, we’re adding mental health professionals, police, school officials because these are all folks that actually, in many cases, know more about the people than the people that you live with,” Rosenthal said. 

Investigators said Card allegedly first targeted the bowling alley in Lewiston before moving to the restaurant around 7 p.m. 

Card is believed to be familiar with weapons as military officials said he enlisted with the Army in December of 2002. He is now in the reserves. 

According to the Associated Press, superiors previously called in state police in July after they became concerned about Card’s behavior while training at West Point in New York. The AP said troopers brought Card to a military hospital for a mental health evaluation.  

“We know this army-trained, sharpshooter up in Maine was in a mental health institution,” Rosenthal said. “But there was no background check required, so where are you going to even find that information?”

Gun control advocates in Maine were organizing on Thursday as they call for stronger measures to prevent gun violence.

READ: Latest coverage on shootings in Lewiston and the search for Robert Card

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