Lewiston Democrat Jared Golden says he’s switching his position on banning assault weapons

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LEWISTON, Maine — U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat, said Thursday he was reversing his position on banning assault weapons, saying a horrific mass shooting in his hometown led him to believe the firearms should be prohibited.

Golden was one of four Democrats who voted in July 2022 against federal legislation that sought to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons. But speaking to reporters inside Lewiston City Hall, Golden said after moments like the Wednesday mass shooting, “a leader is forced to grapple with things that are far greater than his or herself.”

It’s too soon to tell if his switch will spark a movement, but he said he must try.

“I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war, like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime,” he said. “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.”

Golden said he would work with any colleagues 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,” he said.

Golden’s reversal came at nearly the same moment Maine State Police said they were descending upon a home as they continued a massive manhunt for Robert Card, a 40-year-old man identified as a suspect in a mass shooting here that left 18 people dead and 13 wounded.

The shooting shattered lives in Lewiston, surrounding communities, and Maine, parents without children and people mourning the loss of their loved ones. Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins echoed sentiments Gov. Janet Mills expressed earlier Thursday, calling it a “dark day for the state of Maine.”

“This heinous attempt, which has robbed the lives of at least 18 Mainers and injured so many more, is the worst mass shooting that the state of Maine has ever experienced and could ever imagine,” Collins said.

Collins did not say whether she would support banning assault rifles, instead arguing federal lawmakers should outlaw high-capacity magazines.

“I think that would have more input and more effectiveness.”

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