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NRA-endorsed Walz says he's open to new gun laws

Rep. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Corey AndersonRep. Tim Walz

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz said Tuesday he would consider supporting stricter gun laws, including a possible assault weapon ban, following last week's school shooting in Connecticut, despite the National Rifle Association endorsement he secured this year.

Walz, who calls himself a "strong supporter of second amendment rights," has a fairly moderate voting record on gun control, at least in the NRA's eyes. The group endorsed him in his re-election campaign against a Republican opponent who heralded an A+ grade of his own from the organization. The Star Tribune notes Walz was one of 65 Democrats to sign a 2009 letter opposing a new ban on assault weapons like the one that lapsed in 2004.

Even so, after a shooting rampage in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school left 20 children and six teachers dead, Walz said he's open to supporting new gun control regulations.

In a Tuesday interview, Walz stopped short of endorsing measures to reauthorize the assault weapon ban, though he said he would look at proposals along those lines. He called for an increased emphasis on background checks and greater penalties for people who obtain guns illegally, and said he wants to find some sort of compromise between gun rights supporters and gun control advocates who say Newtown should finally bring about new gun laws.

"If someone is a law abiding citizen [and] they have the capacity, mentally, to be able to handle this, [then] they have the right to purchase and conduct their activity where it doesn’t interfere with others," Walz said. "But I also think there needs to be safeguards in there with the understanding, not all people are responsible."

The NRA, which has been silent since the shootings, said it will hold a Friday press conference to announce "meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again." In the days since the shooting, a handful of traditionally pro-gun Democrats have softened their stance, opening the door to considering more gun control in the future.

Walz said he senses the shooting has inspired the public to call for more gun control than any of the mass shootings before it, perhaps because of the young age of the victims (the children were all six- and seven-year-olds).

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Comments (3)

Well by all means

Well by all means congressman, please do make yourself open to this glaringly obvious step.

guns

The constitution doesn't require everyone to have a gun. There sometimes seems to be a creeping recommendation that everyone be armed.

My parental in-laws spent their late adolescence 25 miles from where WWII stalled for six months in Holland. Towns were "liberated" in the morning and reoccupied in the afternoon repeatedly. The administrator of a mental hospital with 2,000 patients asked the American troops to please depart before they were caught in a cross fire.

Those who are in favor or arming lots of folk seem to be setting up the unarmed for the dangers of crossfire. As it is going up to the door of a stranger may not be the best idea, especially after dark when fear tends to rise.

In the mid sixties I moved into an apartment on East 4th St. on the NYC Lower East Side. It seemed that I was living in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. I was fearful. The solution was walking through one neighborhood after the other for hours at a time until I was fully aware of what was going on around me. My spine became sensitive. I didn't need to look. New York became safe. The possession of a weapon would have endangered by life.

The Best Buy clerk who put his hand on my shoulder before I was aware of him surely thought me nuts!

A couple years before that I was in Selma, Alabama with SCLC. Carrying a weapon would have been life threatening for me. As it is Walter Reuther of the UAW verbally carried on with the State troopers and we were safe. Get people into talk and safety is at hand. The man who came out behind me at the Sutherland Lounge on the Chicago South Side wanted to talk about Miles Davis.

Weapons endanger a person and those close by. Lots of gun permits were applied for over the past few days. The paradox is that a gun brings a sense of security and much greater danger. There are alternative means to conquering fear. It takes imagination and practice and the result is freedom.

I have to say I'm somewhat

I have to say I'm somewhat disappointed in people like Walz, Joe Manchin, and other "pro-gun" legislators who are now all of a sudden open to the idea of more controls, whether they be bans on large-capacity clips, better background checks, etc. Newtown was horrific, but it wasn't like this was an impossible thing to imagine happening. I'd like to think our legislators could have a little bit of foresight, rather than wait for something horrific to spurn them to change. Joe Manchin made a simple argument on the radio the other day as to why hunters don't need more than 3-4 shots; why he couldn't make the same argument 5 years ago is a mystery to me.