State of Maine: Golden drops the ball on gun control legislation 



Maine Congressman Jared Golden was the only one of 224 congressional Democrats to vote against a gun safety bill passed by the House last week. With respect, Congressman, how would your arguments against the House bill wash if you were standing face to face with the parents of the dead children? 

Golden’s rationale? The bill would not pass the Senate, so no point in voting for it in the House. First of all, the bill could not pass the Senate if the House didn’t send it there. “Congress should not simply focus on ‘doing something’ but rather on doing something of substance…” said Golden. He does not appear to be doing either. Fortunately, the House sent it on so now it’s the Senate’s turn to stand up and be counted. 

The Congressman is almost certainly correct that the bill will not succeed in the Senate, but just because the Senate won’t pass it doesn’t mean the House shouldn’t try. In the face of 19 children slaughtered in their elementary school, not enough senators are prepared to vote for any gun control measures. What will it take? Who will be next? 

The Washington Post puts the tally of mass shootings (four or more injured or killed) at over 250 so far this year, an average of more than one a day. There have been at least 38 just since Uvalde. Thirty-eight. U.S. senators would rather argue about what to do, if anything, than agree to act. At a time when over half the U.S. population wants something done, when even the most ardent gun owners share national concern over rampant gun violence, the U.S. Senate chooses not to make it happen. 

Granted, it’s a rare bill attempting to make its way through Congress that has an easy path. Regional differences, party philosophy, policy debates, procedures, the ability of the sponsor, the opinion of a committee chair, all must be accommodated. And as bills go, there are few more contentious than regulating gun purchase, ownership and use. 

No one is proposing to do away with the Second Amendment, but at the time it was written the guns being used to commit crimes today did not exist. What else can an assault weapon be used for other than killing a lot of people in a very short time? Bump stocks? They allow an automatic weapon to shoot even faster. Why is there even a debate about this? 

Congressman Golden allowed that the bill had parts he liked, but parts he didn’t. Alright, Congressman, if that’s the case, submit your own legislation and write it to suit you or find someone else’s you can support. It is far too facile to say you can’t vote for a bill that is not entirely to your liking. That can go on forever, and it has. 

If it is too challenging to find one bill that works for you, why not put gun safety regulations in separate bills? Submit a dozen bills, with just one proposal in each. A bill to raise the age for gun purchases. A bill to ban automatic weapons. A national “red flag” bill. A bill to untie the hands of the enforcement community. A bill for technological enhancements to support legal ownership and owner identification. A bill to properly fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

With just one proposal in each bill, no congressman has cover for opposing a bill because a single part is not to his or her liking. Put every proposal out to a straight-up yes or no vote and get everyone on the record. And the laws successfully passed by the gun lobby about what records can be kept on gun ownership and who may access them? Get legislators on the record about that, too. 

It would be really irksome if Congress passes something minimal, like raising the age for possession of automatic weapons from 18 to 21, and then we have to endure the race to the microphones where the same legislators who have done nothing for decades congratulate themselves on how responsive and bipartisan they are. 

Congressman Golden, it is hard not to think about the extent to which your motivation in opposing this legislation has something to do with your desire to win reelection in a conservative district. Please don’t leave us wondering about that. It is time for a “declaration of conscience” when it comes to the rampant slaughter of Americans by their heavily armed fellow citizens. 

Your history to date suggests you are a thoughtful and conscientious legislator. You served in the military, so you are no stranger to guns and what they can do. Don’t wait until one of these tragedies comes to a Maine school, or a mall, or a concert. For God’s sake, do something. 

 

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County. 

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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