Golden: Ban "Assault Weapons", But No "Red Flag" Laws or Magazine Bans

AP Photo/David Sharp, File

Rep. Jared Golden was one of the few Democrats in Congress to oppose a ban on so-called assault weapons, but the congressman from Maine abruptly reversed course after the mass killings in Lewiston last week, telling reporters at a news conference that he believes it’s time to “ban deadly weapons of war“; though the military uses full-auto or select-fire rifles and not semi-automatic rifles like the one used by the killer to carry out his attack.


Golden elaborated on his change of heart this week in an interview with WMTW-TV in Portland, telling reporter Phil Hirschkorn that while he’s on board with a gun ban, his opposition to other gun control measures remains unchanged.

He said he remains a firm “no” against banning high-capacity magazines, which allow a shooter fire more rounds before reloading, and against expanding background checks to buyers at gun shows or from private gun sellers. He voted against those “universal background checks in 2020.

“I’m not changing any of my beliefs in regards to the importance of the rights of people to own firearms,” Golden said. “The intent of those who wrote the Constitution was to, you know, try and ensure that a government could not disarm a population and also to ensure that a citizenry and communities are able to provide for common self-defense.”

He also opposes a national red or yellow flag law that let law enforcement agencies confiscate guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Golden said, “When you talk about things like red flag laws or yellow flag laws, I think that those are best put in place at the state level and implemented locally.”

Golden’s position is confusing, to say the least. He understands that the Second Amendment isn’t just about individual self-defense but is ultimately a check on government tyranny, yet he’s now demanding Congress pass a law designed to disarm the citizenry of commonly-owned firearms.


Golden described his reversal as crystallizing in his mind during his trip home from Washington the day after the mass shooting. The bowling alley attacked is just a half mile from the home he shares with his pregnant wife, Izzy, and their two-year-old daughter, Rosemary.

“While I may, you know have kept one in the home, am I going to start walking around everywhere with it? You know, are we going to go to the grocery store with AR-15s slung on our shoulders, all of us who have obviously good reason to be concerned about safety in our communities? Is that the world that I want for my daughter’s future? The answer there is no.”

There’s a world of difference between not wanting to carry an AR-15 with you to the grocery store and making it a federal felony to purchase or possess a modern sporting rifle. If Golden doesn’t get it, maybe he should visit some gun stores in his district and talk to the staff and customers about the surge in gun sales that took place while the killer was on the loose. I guarantee there were a lot of folks who bought modern sporting rifles of their own; not to carry out an attack against their neighbors, but to protect themselves and their families.

On some level, I do understand Golden’s visceral reaction to the mass murder in Lewiston, but his newfound support for a gun ban is based on emotion, not logic. If the killer had used a handgun and not a rifle as his primary weapon, would Golden be demanding the repeal of the Heller decision and a nationwide prohibition on pistols? I doubt it, so why is a ban on semi-automatic rifles now his “laser-like focus”? All he has to do is look at California to understand that banning guns doesn’t stop mass shootings.


The more we’ve learned about the months of red flags and warning signs that were ignored or downplayed, the more evidence has emerged that there were multiple opportunities to address the killer’s declining mental state long before he carried out his attack. Golden’s focus should be on investigating those failures, particularly within the U.S. Army, rather than demanding his neighbors give up their rifles or else face federal charges.

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