In a letter to his constituents published Sunday to his “Dear Mainer” Substack, Democratic Congressman from Maine’s 2nd District Jared Golden explained his reasoning behind why he now supports banning “AR-15s or similar rifles” in the wake of last week’s mass murder in Lewiston.
At a press conference the evening after the shooting, Rep. Golden announced that he has reversed his previous position of opposing bans on assault rifles, saying that “the time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”
Golden stated that he will “work with any colleague” to get a ban of assault rifles passed in the time he has left in Congress.
The “Blue Dog” Democrat’s announcement was met with backlash from two of his Republican 2024 opponents in Maine’s 2nd District, who both accused Golden of using the horrific shooting to advance a political agenda.
“Some people have accused me of trying to capitalize on this tragedy to push a liberal agenda,” Golden wrote in his Sunday letter. “I am almost jealous of their ignorance – I hope they don’t have to learn the hard way how wrong they are as I have learned about myself this past week.”
Golden, a U.S. Marine veteran, explains that although he has previously opposed calls to ban AR-15s and similar rifles, he now is “joining the call to ban their sale and restrict the possession of them.”
His account of how this reversal occurred, he says, began with the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I left our nation’s capital thinking, for the first time, that large-scale partisan violence might actually be possible in America,” Golden wrote, saying that following Jan. 6 he bought weapons to defend himself and his family in response to death threats.
The “right to self-defense,” Golden wrote, “is what I believe to be at the heart of the Second Amendment.”
Tempering that position, however, Golden believes that “our Constitution and our courts seek to find a balance between the individual right and the public’s right for security and the obligation of the government to provide it.”
After receiving the news of the shooting, Golden traveled to his hometown of Lewiston, taking time to reflect on what he would say during last Thursday’s press conference.
His reflections, he wrote, centered around how reasonable it is to expect a “good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”
“Can a good guy with a gun stop a bad guy with a gun? Yes they can,” Golden wrote. “But is it guaranteed to go that way? Absolutely not. Actually, it won’t without some serious good luck – right time, right place, right angle. Everything has to go right.”
The Democratic Congressman explains that he asked himself if he had been at one of the sites of last weeks shooting armed with his sidearm, would it have made a difference if the shooter was armed with a weapon different from the AR-15.
“The answer is yes, in a life or death game of milliseconds and distance, it does make a difference,” he wrote.
Aspects of the AR-15 rifle make it “near perfect for the rapid reacquisition of targets,” he explained, adding that “that’s why these killers keep using it to carry out these mass shootings.”
“Are guys like me going to have to start carrying AR-15s strapped over our shoulders like we strap handguns on our waists when we take the family out to eat, to buy groceries, go to the movies, drive them to school?” Golden asked.
Golden, despite now supporting a ban on assault rifles, wrote that he doesn’t think “making it harder for the average American to buy guns is the right answer.”
“I think it should remain fairly easy,” he wrote.
What Golden supports is to “remove these deadliest of rifles from the equation” — a measure he calls the “simplest solution.”
“We should ban the further sale of them and, at a minimum, we should regulate the ongoing possession of them with a permit and a regular review process in order to keep them,” he wrote.
In his letter, Golden did not mention the Lewiston shooter Robert Card’s history of mental health issues aside from saying he had “gone crazy,” or Maine’s “yellow flag” law, a law meant to remove guns from people deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Card had previously threatened to shoot up a military base in Saco, and reportedly had the cops sent to his home by the Maine National guard over concerns he would “snap and commit a mass shooting” less than six weeks before last Wednesday’s massacre.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins said at last Thursday’s press conference in Lewiston that “the yellow flag law should have been triggered,” and that Card “should have been separated from his weapons.”