In a press conference on Thursday evening, Mr Golden – a conservative Democrat – admitted he made a “misjudgment” when he voted against legislation to ban assault weapons last year.
“Among many other misjudgments, I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime. The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure,” Mr Golden said before calling on Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used in the shooting.
“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,” he added.
Mr Golden asked his constituents and residents of Lewiston for “forgiveness and support” as he advocates to ban assault weapons.
Gun control is a controversial topic in the US that has become politically polarising as many conservatives believe enacting stricter legislation will not solve the problem and is an infringement on the Second Amendment.
In the wake of mass shootings, conservative leaders will often claim mental health problems or a lack of public safety regulations as a catalyst in the events.
After the mass shooting in Maine, many 2024 Republican presidential candidates took this position – blaming scarce mental health resources for failing to help the suspected shooter before he went on a violent rampage.
Conversely, Democrats and other liberal-leaning individuals believe easy access to semiautomatic firearms like AR-15-style rifles is the reason mass shootings are prevalent in the US.
In his speech, Mr Golden said he had “a false confidence” that his community was “above” mass shootings and that he “could be in full control.”
After the news conference, several lawmakers and gun control advocates praised Mr Golden for changing his opinion on gun control.
New York Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called his comments “powerful, brave and moving”.
Rep Maxwell Frost praised Mr Golden for taking the “right stance” and asked people to donate to his campaign for re-election.
Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control advocate whose teenage daughter died in the Parkland school shooting, said he was “truly thankful” for Mr Golden’s apology and called on lawmakers to make changes before a devastating shooting occurs in their community.
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