SCU psychologist, others weigh in on mental health crisis & Americans access to weapons

The search by local and federal law agencies continues for the suspect in Wednesday’s mass shooting in Maine. The grieving process by multiple families for those who’ve been lost has begun. And a singular question remains: What caused Robert Card to allegedly go on a killing spree?

"People who go around doing these kinds of crimes are not usually the epitome of self-actualization and flourishing in life. I mean, they’ve got issues, whatever those issues may be," said Dr. Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychologist.

He said Robert Card could be part of a few people suffering from schizophrenia, who have intermittent command hallucinations, where they have dangerous voices in their head that compel them to commit violence.

"Usually, they are paranoid hallucinations. So, it’s usually somebody’s after you. You have to hurt this person because they’re gonna hurt you. Or they think they’re saving the world from some sinister force. Or something like that," said Plante.

Investigators said Card used his military training and an AR-15 to kill at least 18 people and wound another 13 during two separate mass shooting incidents Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine.

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"It’s so painful to see this kind of tragedy when it occurs. The families that are suffering. The communities that are suffering," said Lindsay Nichols, a policy director with the Giffords Law Center.

She said a patchwork of state laws and loopholes in federal law can allow someone suffering a mental health crisis to gain access to weapons.

"All those things that are supposed to disqualify someone from possessing guns, should trigger some sort of procedure so that guns are removed. But in many states they don’t," said Nichols.

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In California, if police believe a person with weapons is also in a mental health crisis, they can request a Gun Violence Restraining Order. Once signed by a judge, that person would be prohibited from owning a weapon or ammunition for at least 21 days. That prohibition can be extended from one to five years.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv