Conversations in MN following Maine mass shooting working towards preventing future killings

After Maine mass shooting, conversations in Minnesota work toward preventing future killings

After Maine mass shooting, conversations in Minnesota work toward preventing future killings

Hours before a gunman shot and killed at least 18 people in Maine, a Minnesota-based nonprofit held a community conversation about preventing gun violence.

“It was interesting, and tragic timing,” Maggiy Emery, executive director of Protect Minnesota, said.

Wednesday afternoon, Emery led a roundtable discussion about their work as a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent gun violence. Part of the conversation included their goals for next year’s legislative session.

“We were all feeling really, really hopeful leaving that event,” Emery said, adding: “[Then], just a few hours later, we got this really, really scary and tragic news.”

As of Thursday night, investigators in Maine were still searching for 40-year-old Robert Card after they say he shot and killed at least 18 people and hurt more than a dozen more.

RELATED: Fearful Maine residents stay home amid massive search for suspect in killing of 18 people

Card is an Army reservist who, according to a defense official, was evaluated at a mental health facility after he was behaving erratically over the summer.

Emery says while more information is learned about Card and the circumstances that led up to the killings, it will help shape future conversations about policy and practices here at home.

“We always talk about when events like this happen, how can we make sure that folks who are in crisis, don’t have their hands on a firearm at a time like [that]?” Emery said.

Another organization watching closely as more information is shared is the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. Its vice president, Rob Doar, says with tragedies like this they like to focus on what was missed.

“We’re very anxious to see what could have been done to prevent this,” Doar said, adding: “And, what responsible gun owners can do to help intercede with those [who] they can recognize are in crisis.”

Though the two groups differ on certain beliefs, they both agree that continuing these kinds of conversations is important to help avoid future killings.

“While these types of events shock, the conscience, the conversation around reducing gun-related deaths is much broader than just mass shootings,” Doar said.

”I’m also hopeful that we can keep doing the work and shaping the narrative around gun violence so that folks know that it’s not just these preventable tragedies, it’s hundreds of other small preventable tragedies every day of the year,” Emery added.

For those in crisis, or know of someone who is, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7, every day of the year.

Here is a list of suicide prevention and mental health resources:

If you believe someone is at risk of suicide, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests you:

  • Ask questions about whether the individual is having suicidal thoughts.
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Seek help from a medical or mental health professional. If it is an emergency situation, take the person to a hospital.
  • Remove any objects from a person’s home that could be potentially used in a suicide.
  • Do not leave the person alone, if possible, until help is available.