(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden renewed his call for congressional Republicans to support a ban on assault rifles and other stricter limits on firearms after a mass shooting in Maine that left at least 18 people dead and more than a dozen wounded. 

“I urge Republican lawmakers in Congress to fulfill their duty to protect the American people,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “Work with us to pass a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to enact universal background checks, to require safe storage of guns, and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers.”

Local residents in and around the town of Lewiston — about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of Boston — were being told to continue to shelter in place Thursday morning while the shooter remained at large. 

The Lewiston Police Department said on Facebook that they are seeking 40-year-old Robert Card as a person of interest in the shootings at Schemengees Bar & Grille restaurant and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley. Police said Card, a firearms instructor with military training, should be considered “armed and dangerous.” 

Biden has repeatedly urged voters to elect more members of Congress who would support curbs on firearms. Last year, he signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first major federal gun-control legislation in 30 years, but prospects for further action on the issue stalled after Republicans took control of the House in January.

The president on Thursday ordered that flags at federal buildings — including US embassies and military installations overseas — be flown at half staff until Monday. 

The shootings late Wednesday could together rank as the worst US mass shooting incident of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks US firearm-related incidents. For context, the entire state of Maine had just 29 murders all of last year, according to data from the Maine State Police. 

Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun-safety measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

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