In the wake of the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston, major political campaigns in Maine are likely to focus serious attention on gun issues for the first time in years.

In the U.S. Senate race and the U.S. House contest in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, what to do about the deadliest types of guns is already a hot topic.

The two incumbents in the races, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston have each shifted their position following the massacre of 18 people who went out for an evening of entertainment and instead met a hail of bullets from an AR-10 assault-style rifle.

Golden, a combat veteran who fought with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposed an assault weapons ban as recently as July.

But after the shootings in his hometown, Golden changed his mind and asked “for forgiveness and support” from constituents and survivors for his “false confidence that our community was above this, and that we could be in full control, among many other misjudgments.”

“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,” Golden said.


Both Republicans angling to unseat Golden, state Reps. Austin Theriault of Fort Kent and Mike Soboleski of Phillips, oppose a ban.

Soboleski said Golden was “using this tragedy to advance a liberal political agenda” and decried his decision to raise the issue when people need to “begin the difficult process of healing.”

Theriault said it is “unfortunate and frustrating that, at this time of tragedy, Jared Golden and Joe Biden would try to score political points by attacking the 2nd Amendment. When I am in Congress I will defend every law-abiding citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights.”

In the Senate race, where there is no Republican challenger so far, King took a step toward restricting some guns in a bill he introduced in November with U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico to regulate the sale, transfer and manufacture of gas-operated semi-automatic weapons.

King said the measure “addresses the lethal capacity weapons like the one used in Lewiston and most of the deadliest mass shootings across the country. Nothing can bring back the lives of our family and friends, but responsible actions moving forward can reduce the likelihood of such a nightmare happening again in Maine or anywhere else.”

Democrat David Costello, a Brunswick resident who is challenging King, said he has long backed “strengthening our nation’s gun safety laws and regulations.”


“I was devastated by the recent horrific murder of 18 people in my former hometown of Lewiston,” he said. “Given the years and horror of escalating gun violence, it’s unconscionable that the U.S. House and Senate have done little over the last 30 years to truly address gun violence.”

“Everything that can be done — from expanded mental health services, stricter gun crime sentencing, and increased community policing to waiting periods, universal background checks, red flag laws, assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans, and ending immunity from liability for gun manufacturers — should be done to reduce gun-related deaths, and injuries in the United States,” Costello said.

Costello said King’s bill “is a step in the right direction and is worth pursuing,” but “it doesn’t obviate the need for, nor equal the superior usefulness of an outright ban on the sale of such weapons.”

Party primaries will be held in June. The general election Nov. 5, 2024.

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