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Biden heads to Maine to mourn Lewiston shooting victims

President Joe Biden speaks Aug. 9, 2023, at the Arcosa Wind Towers in Belen, N.M. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden on Friday will visit Lewiston, Maine, to honor the 18 people killed in a mass shooting that shook the state last week.

The president will once again act as consoler-in-chief, a role he has before taken on following horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, New York and Monterey Park, California. First lady Dr. Jill Biden will accompany him on the trip.

The visit comes after authorities concluded a two-day manhunt for the suspect, who was accused of killing people ranging in age from 14 to 76 and wounding 13 more in a bowling alley and a restaurant. The suspect was found dead last week, but questions remain over possible warning signs prior to the rampage and officials’ handling of them.

Biden has voiced frustration at the lack of action in Congress on the issue and has previously suggested his executive powers are limited in enacting further gun control. Following the Uvalde shooting, in which 21 people – 19 students and two teachers – were killed, Biden signed into law the first major piece of gun safety legislation in decades.

Speaking at a fundraiser last week, the president criticized the use of high-capacity magazines. He has before made calls to renew an assault weapons ban, but there is little likelihood of such a measure passing through a divided Congress.

“Who the hell needs an assault weapon that can hold, in some cases, up to 100 rounds?” Biden said at the fundraiser in Washington.

The president said in a statement last week that his administration would continue “to provide everything that is needed to support the people of Maine.” He also reiterated his call for Congress to pass legislation addressing gun violence and urged Republicans to “fulfill their obligation to keep the American people safe.”

The White House laid out the resources the Biden administration has dedicated in response to the shooting ahead of Biden’s visit.

“Since this tragedy took place, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, at the direction of the president, has been working closely with the governor of Maine to support the community of Lewiston and every person who has been affected by this senseless act of violence,” said a White House official.

The gun violence prevention office, established in September and led by Vice President Kamala Harris, is intended to address the national epidemic of firearm injury and death.

In addition to coordinating with Maine Gov. Janet Mills, the White House has had Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Greg Jackson on the ground to coordinate with the FBI and Justice Department for use of federal law enforcement resources. The Department of Health and Human Services has also sent behavioral health and public health staff support.

Stefanie Feldman, director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, said Biden will continue to urge Congress to act on gun safety legislation.

“President Biden is committed to marshaling resources from across the federal government to support Lewiston every step of the way. He will also continue to be relentless in doing everything in his power to stop the epidemic of gun violence tearing our communities apart and urging Congress to act on commonsense gun safety legislation,” Feldman said in a statement.