Conservative Maine Democrat says hometown mass shooting changed his mind on assault weapons ban

"The time has come for me to take responsibility," Rep. Jared Golden said.

October 26, 2023, 8:14 PM

Rep. Jared Golden, a Marine Corps veteran who lives in Lewiston, Maine, said Thursday that in light of the recent mass shooting in his hometown he was changing his view on banning assault-style weapons.

"Humility is called for as accountability is sought by victims of a tragedy such as this one," Golden said at a news conference alongside other officials.

Arguably the most conservative Democrat in the House, Golden said that "I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime."

"The time has come for me to take responsibility for this failure," he said. "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."

Golden, first elected in 2018, previously voted against an attempt to revive a federal assault weapons ban in 2022. That bill passed anyway, 217-213, but did not become law.

"I don't support any version of that," Golden said last year, according to the Associated Press.

The previous federal assault weapons ban, enacted in the '90s with some exceptions, ended after 10 years.

Rep. Jared Golden speaks during a press conference after a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, Oct. 26, 2023.

Democrats and Republicans have largely been divided about gun violence, with Democrats urging restrictions on firearms to curb frequent shootings in America while GOP lawmakers often argue such regulations are unconstitutional and ineffective compared with focusing on mental health or on increasing security.

At Thursday's press conference alongside Golden, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, said that she supported some measures like a ban on high-volume ammunition magazines but did not back an assault rifle ban.

The mass shooting in Lewiston killed at least 18 and injured 13 more on Wednesday night, according to Gov. Janet Mills.

Authorities have identified the suspect as 40-year-old Robert Card, a former Army reservist, who has not yet been taken into custody.

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