Rep. Jared Golden has been one of the few Democrats in Congress willing to go against his caucus when it comes to a ban on so-called assault weapons. When the Democratic-controlled House approved a bill prohibiting the sale of “assault weapons” last June, Golden was one of just five Democrats to vote against the measure; joined by Texas Democrats Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez along with Oregon’s Kurt Schrader and Wisconsin’s Ron Kind. Both Schrader and Kind are no longer in office, so the number of ostensibly pro-Second Amendment Democrats had already dwindled down to three.
Now that number has dipped to just two, with Golden renouncing his past votes on Thursday and vowing he’ll work for a ban going forward.
The tragic events moved Golden to switch his position in a news conference at City Hall on Thursday in which he admitted to having “a false confidence that our community was above this.” He said he was wrong to oppose Democratic efforts to ban so-called assault weapons and limit magazine sizes in the past, a move that caused progressives to rally to his defense.
“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,” Golden said.
As you can imagine, gun control activists and Golden’s fellow Democrats were quick to praise him for his 180-degree turn.
Incredible statement from a well meaning and committed public servant. I’m inspired by and appreciative for his commitment to the safety of his constituents. Thank you, @RepGolden https://t.co/3pI8TQkd97
— Peter Ambler (@PeterMAmbler) October 26, 2023
Thank you, @RepGolden for announcing just now that you will do all you can to enact an assault weapons ban at the federal level. @bradybuzz stands ready to work tirelessly with you to make that a reality and to end the use of weapons of war to slaughter our fellow citizens.
— Kris Brown | President, bradyunited.org (@KrisB_Brown) October 26, 2023
— Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@MaxwellFrostFL) October 26, 2023
I can understand Golden’s emotional and visceral reaction to the murders of 18 people. What I don’t get (assuming his flip-flop is based on a genuine change of heart and not a calculated political move) is why Golden suddenly believes that banning semi-automatic rifles will stop mass murderers.
When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma City, the Edmond Post Office massacre was one of the first big news stories that I remember paying attention to. The killer used three handguns to carry out his assault on his co-workers, killing 14 and wounding 6 others. I was living in Virginia when a mentally ill student opened fire in a classroom building, killing 32 people and injuring 17 others with two handguns.
If the killer in Lewiston had used handguns instead of a long gun to carry out his murderous rampage, would Golden have called for a ban on pistols on Thursday? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. So why has he bought into the idea that banning modern sporting rifles is going to be effective at preventing these types of attacks? And does his newfound appreciation for banning our way to safety extend beyond firearms?
In 2015, Maine had 169 deaths that were directly attributable to alcohol and more than 2,000 deaths in which alcohol was deemed to be a contributing factor, including 22 of the state’s 25 homicides that year. There were 150 motor vehicle accidents resulting in death that involved alcohol, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. That’s six times the number of all homicides in the state that year.
While the vast majority of Mainers may be able to safely and responsibly drink without doing harm to themselves or others, clearly that’s not the case for everyone. So why not ban alcohol, or at least high-proof spirits? After all, nobody needs 100-proof liquor to cop a cheap buzz and unwind after work, right?
If this comes off as flippant, please know that’s not my intent but a genuine question. My oldest son passed away from alcoholism last April, and there’s a part of me that would love to believe that the 140,000 or so Americans who die from excessive alcohol use could be saved if we only enacted Prohibition II. It would be comforting to believe that there’s a simple solution at hand that only requires a new law to be passed. The problem is I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it, any more than I can honestly believe that banning a particular class of firearms is going to stop deranged individuals or cold-blooded killers from committing the kind of atrocity we saw in Lewiston on Wednesday night.
My objection to a gun ban isn’t based on loving my AR-15 more than I love kids. It isn’t about placing my rights above someone else’s safety. It’s based on my rock-solid belief after decades of covering both the Second Amendment and gun control movements that gun bans are both ineffective and unconstitutional. Jared Golden might find some solace in blaming the gun for the mass murder that took place in his home state, and gun control advocates are certainly cheered by his change of heart and desire to “do something” they’ve been demanding for decades, but the truth is that we’re not just a gun ban away from real public safety and we never will be.