Maine legislator who opposed assault-weapons bans says ‘time has come for me to take responsibility for this failure’

‘I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle he used to carry out this crime. The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure. ‘

— Rep. Jared Golden

That’s Jared Golden, a Democrat who represents Maine’s second district — home to Lewiston, where a man went on a shooting rampage at a bar and a bowling alley, killing at least 16 people and wounding many others.

Golden, who previously opposed efforts to ban assault weapons, said in a Thursday press conference there was a “false confidence” that his community wouldn’t be endangered by mass shootings. “My community was above this and that we could be in full control, among many other misjudgments,” he said.

Maine is one of about 20 states that allow permitless carry — having a concealed weapon in public without a permit, according to the Associated Press. Gun-rights advocates have for years held up Maine as an example of a place with unrestrictive gun laws and little violent crime.

He added: “I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle he [suspected shooter Robert Card] used to carry out this crime.”

Read more: Maine shooting victims include ‘hero’ bar manager, youth bowling coach

Golden represents a district that voted for Donald Trump by a 52%-45% margin in the 2020 presidential election.

“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.

Maine has a “yellow flag” law, which a gun-rights group helped write. Law enforcement officers can detain someone they suspect is mentally ill and poses a threat to themselves or others. The law differs from red flag laws in that it requires police first to get a medical practitioner to evaluate the person and find the person to be a threat before police can petition a judge to order the person’s firearms to be seized.

Authorities say the attack was carried out by a man who was committed to a mental-health facility for two weeks this past summer and had reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” a military base.

It was not clear whether anyone had used the yellow flag law in the suspect’s case, but gun-control advocates on Thursday blamed the killings on what one called Maine’s “weak gun laws.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said that it is important to “ban very-high-capacity magazines,” and added that she would support legislation on bump stocks.

“The fact, the suspect was hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness should have triggered the yellow flag law. He should have been separated from his weapons,” Collins said Thursday. “I’m sure that after the fact, that it’s going to be looked at very closely.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. and called on Congress to pass stronger laws, including making background checks universal, passing a red flag law and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“It is a false choice to suggest we must choose between either upholding the Second Amendment or passing reasonable gun safety laws to save lives,” Harris said in a statement.

However, House Speaker Mike Johnson, during an interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday night, said that this is “not the time to be talking about legislation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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