WASHINGTON – Like many Democrats who represent rural, socially conservative districts, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has been a big advocate for gun owners in Congress, which has earned him the endorsement of the powerful National Rifle Association.
But the massacre of 26 students and teachers at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Midtown, CT last week has shaken Walz, a former teacher and the parent of young children.
He’s now rethinking his stance on whether assault-style weapons, such as the one used in the shooting, and large ammunition magazines should be banned. Both are currently legal. Walz has opposed banning them in the past, going so far as to sign a letter with a large group of U.S. House members in 2009 to oppose a ban.
“It’s not as if there have never been lines in the sand and things you can’t own and if we as a society, because of the nature of where we’re at, we have to take a look at that, I certainly want that to be at the table,” said Walz in an interview.
Instead of tightening gun ownership rules, some members of Congress and state Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, have advocated allowing teachers to bring weapons to schools in order to speed up the response to potential future shootings. Walz said he could not support those proposals.
“I could not disagree more both from a parent, from a citizen and especially as a teacher that’s not the culture of that classroom. I think that idea of arming teachers is pretty much just giving up,” he said.