Alleged Maine Attacker Used a ‘Legally’ Purchased Sniper Rifle

In this image taken from video released by the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office, an un
Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office via AP

The alleged attacker who killed 18 and wounded 13 Wednesday night in Lewiston, Maine, used a “legally” purchased sniper rifle chambered in .308.

A .308 is an extremely popular hunting round used for large game. By contrast, an AR-15 uses 5.56 rounds–or .223–both of which are much smaller than a .308.

During live programming, FOX News reported, “The gun used was [a] sniper rifle purchased legally this year.”

The New York Post likewise noted that police indicated shooting suspect Robert Card “legally purchased a sniper rifle with .308 caliber bullets, the weapons [sic] believed to have been used in the attack.”

When law enforcement speaks of “legally” purchasing a gun the reference normally indicates that a background check was passed.

This immediately raises two questions: 1) Did Card’s mental evaluation at a West Point hospital in mid-July 2023 not reach the level of an involuntary commitment? or 2) Did someone drop the ball in reporting an involuntary commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)  to prevent passage of a background check?

A NICS background check begins with the would-be gun buyer filling out ATF transaction record form 4473. Question G on the form asks, “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” If the would-be buyer answers “yes” to this question he is barred from purchasing the firearm.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010, a speaker at the 2023 Western Conservative Summit, and he holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at


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