Rep. Jared Golden

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) speaks at a press conference on April 18, 2022.

(Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Progressives Praise Lewiston's Rep. Golden for Seeking Forgiveness, Backing Assault Weapon Ban

"It shouldn't have to take a tragedy in your own state to come around, but we welcome Rep. Golden in the fight to ban these weapons," said George Takei.

Progressives in Congress and on social media praised U.S. Rep. Jared Golden—one of the most conservative House Democrats—after he reversed course and embraced a ban on assault weapons following Wednesday night's mass shooting that left 18 people dead and 13 others wounded in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine.

"I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war, like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime," Golden said during a Thursday press conference, referring to the previous night's massacre at multiple locations. "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."

"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," said Golden, a Marine Corps veteran who has broken with his party to vote against gun control measures including universal background checks. "To the people of Lewiston, my constituents throughout the 2nd 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."

Numerous progressive U.S. lawmakers took to social media to thank Golden.

"This is so powerful from my colleague Rep. Golden. Thank you for your humility and for giving everything you have to this fight to ban assault rifles," Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said on social media.

"My heart grieves for every lost life in your community and all those who are hurting and afraid," she added. "We must respond with action."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote: "I respect Rep. Golden for working to protect his community in the wake of tragedy and showing integrity by calling for an assault weapons ban."

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) asserted that "if more members of Congress had your courage, we could finally get these weapons of war off the streets and out of our communities."

Congresswoman Becca Balint (D-Vt.) said: "Jared Golden is facing a hard reelection campaign. He is making a choice that is the right thing to do for his district and for this country."

Gun control campaigner Fred Guttenberg—whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie Guttenberg was murdered in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida—said he is "truly thankful" that Golden "just apologized and called for an assault weapons ban."

"Honestly, though, I am sad and angry," he added. "Just imagine if he had before... Parkland or any other shooting. My message to any elected person is to support these measures before it happens in your community and before you need to apologize."

Actor and activist George Takei wrote that "one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Jared Golden from Maine, has apologized for opposing a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the deadly shootings in his state."

"It shouldn't have to take a tragedy in your own state to come around, but we welcome Rep. Golden in the fight to ban these weapons," he added.

Maine's other House member, Rep. Chellie Pingree, told the Portland Press Herald Thursday that she has "always believed there was no good reason to own a military-style assault weapon."

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine—for whom Golden once worked on the Senate Homeland Security Committee—dodged reporters who on Thursday asked if she would support an assault weapons ban.

"I think it is more important that we ban very high-capacity magazines," she said. "I think that would have more input and more effectiveness. Certainly, there's always more that can be done."

Maine's other U.S. senator, Independent Angus King, expressed his incredulity over the shooting, noting what he called a "deep and long history of safe gun use in the state."

Hours before the massacre—allegedly perpetrated by an Army reservist with a history of mental health issues who remains on the run—both Collins and King voted for an amendment that critics say will make it easier for U.S. veterans with mental illness to keep or get guns. The measure passed 53-45.

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