DFL opponents target Walz on guns

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz is taking heat from fellow Democrats in the 2018 race for governor for his stand on gun legislation and campaign contributions he's received from the National Rifle Association.

The criticism comes after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 59 dead and more than 500 wounded.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took on Walz directly in a Facebook video.

In part Coleman said:

"For a decade, while I was fighting against the gun lobby, Congressman Tim Walz proudly held an A rating from the NRA and took more than $18,000 in gun lobby campaign contributions."

"In 2008, Congressman Walz voted against banning semi-automatic weapons. In 2011, Congressmen Walz voted to impose Texas-style conceal-and-carry laws on Minnesota. And just months ago, Congressman Walz was one of only six Democrats in Congress who voted to roll back President Obama's policy banning those with mental health issues from owning guns."

Meanwhile, state Rep. Erin Murphy on Tuesday challenged Walz to give back any campaign contributions he received from the NRA.

Murphy called on other gubernatorial candidates to do the same, but named only Walz. She said she wants to pursue policies to reduce gun-related tragedies, including background checks.

“It has been nearly impossible to even begin a serious and overdue discussion on how to make our communities safe and free from gun violence because of the stranglehold the NRA has on elected officials and our politics,” Murphy said.

A tally from The Washington Post shows Walz received $18,950 from the NRA.

Neither Walz nor his campaign office offered an immediate response.

Walz said Tuesday he will donate the money he received from the NRA to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. He said he wants to get past the political attacks and back to addressing this problem.

"Today, some of the same politicians who have been unable to produce results on gun violence prevention in Minnesota chose to use this tragedy to gain a political edge in the campaign for governor," Walz said. "I get it. That's politics. It's also a distraction from the task at hand, which should be acting to stop tragedies like the attack that just took place in Las Vegas from happening again."

On Monday, Walz responded to the Las Vegas shooting by calling on Republican Congressional leaders to address gun violence. His proposal includes passage of universal background check legislation, establishment of a select committee on gun violence prevention and increased mental health access.

Walz also said he opposes current legislation in Congress related to conceal and carry and gun suppressors.

“As a lifelong sportsman, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” Walz said. “At the same time, there are common-sense things we can do in Congress to prevent these tragedies from taking innocent lives and we must confront the truth that our current laws are not working.”

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