After a tragic mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine left 18 dead, the typical political arguments over guns have emerged, with people mostly falling along party lines. Yet one Maine Democrat has broken with his former position and come out in favor of sweeping gun control.
Rep. Jared Golden gave a press conference where, in the aftermath of this tragedy, he endorsed a federal ban on so-called “assault weapons”—even though he’d opposed this policy as recently as 2022.
“Sometimes, things happen that bring your worst nightmares to life,” he said. “Yesterday, this is what happened in Lewiston. At a time like this, a leader is forced to grapple with things that are far greater than his or herself. Humility is called for as accountability is sought by the victims of a tragedy such as this one.”
“Out of fear of this dangerous world we live in and my determination to protect my own daughter and wife in our home and in our community, because of a false confidence that our community was above this and that we could be in full control among many other misjudgments, I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle he used to carry out this crime,” Golden continued. “The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure. Which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine.”
This abrupt reversal might not seem that shocking at first glance. But when you think about what the congressman is doing here a little more deeply, its true, disgraceful nature becomes clear.
One of two things must be true.
One possibility is that Golden has always believed, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that banning “assault weapons” (a made-up, arbitrary category) would prevent mass shootings, but simply did not care about that because they didn’t happen where he lived. If that’s the case, then it demonstrates a downright sociopathic level of disregard for human life.
The only other possibility is that Golden did not believe that attempting to ban “assault weapons” would effectively prevent mass shootings, hence his lack of support for previous attempts to pass such bans. (Remember, we had an assault weapons ban in place for a decade in this country, and experts agree with near unanimity that it did not work).
In that case, there’s simply no logical reason a horrific tragedy occurring in his home district would affect his support for a ban. He’d either be letting emotion override his rational judgment or simply caving on a key question of constitutional liberties to intense political pressure at home that he anticipates may emerge in the aftermath of this tragedy.
In either case, it’s a betrayal of his responsibility as a member of the United States Congress.
CORRECTION: This article originally erroneously identified Rep. Golden as a Republican. He is a Democrat.