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Jared Golden Decides To Stop Being Wrong, Will Now Support Assault Weapons Ban
Better late than never.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) yesterday apologized for having previously opposed a national ban on the manufacture and sale of assault-style weapons, and vowed he will now work to pass such a ban. Golden’s congressional district includes Lewiston, Maine — his home town and the site of Wednesday night’s mass shootings that left 18 people dead and at least 13 injured. The shooter, who still hasn’t been caught, used an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle in the killing spree.
Here’s video of Golden’s remarks:
For politicians who might be paying attention, this is how you do an apology. After acknowledging that the shootings had brought to life the “worst nightmares” of many, Golden explained why he had previously opposed an assault weapons ban and admitted it was all just “false confidence” to believe that good guys with guns can protect against the evil intentions of bad people bent on violence:
“Out of fear of this dangerous world that we live in and my determination to protect my own daughter and wife in our home and in our community, and 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 used to carry out this crime.”
And then the pivot to his new, very concrete commitment, which is a part of apologizing a lot of people leave out:
“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. For the good of my community, I will work with any colleague to get this done in the time that I have left in Congress.
To the people of Lewiston, my constituents throughout the second district, to the families who lost loved ones, and to those who have been harmed. I ask for forgiveness and support as I seek to put an end to these terrible shootings.”
I’ve seen people online condemning Golden for only changing his mind once tragedy came to his own hometown. Last year, Golden was one of only five Democrats in the House to vote against an assault weapons ban; it passed, but then wasn’t taken up in the Senate because the votes simply weren’t there.
And yes, the best time to have supported a ban on these godawful weapons would have been before a mass killing happened in your hometown. But the second best time to support it is now — and it’s worth pointing out that a lot of politicians would dig in their heels and refuse to admit they’d been wrong, even in the face of a massacre.
Golden may face a difficult reelection race in a conservative-leaning district in 2024. Three Republicans, freshman state Reps. Austin Theriault of Fort Kent and Michael Soboleski of Phillips, plus former Maine Senate candidate Robert Cross of Dedham, are running in a primary for the right to face him.
In a statement, both Theriault and Soboleski accused Golden of trying to advance a political agenda after the shootings. Theriault called for the nation’s largest-ever investment in health care and access, while Soboleski said “now is not the time for politics.”
Something something Holy Second Amendment, something something law-abiding citizens and self-defense. But that’s the sort of comforting bullshit that Golden is willing to leave behind — the “false confidence” that we can be in control if we have enough firepower.
Golden spoke yesterday at a press conference in Lewiston City Hall along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who never fails to disappoint. Collins, who supported the 1994 assault weapons ban, said that she doesn’t support an assault weapons ban now, because Maine’s “heritage” of gun rights blah blah blah, but she’d be open to a ban on “very high capacity magazines,” which she didn’t define.
Perhaps Golden should thank Collins for providing that contrast and reminding us why it’s so hard to see any progress on guns.
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