In about-face, Walz backs assault weapons ban for Minnesota

Minnesota U.S Rep. Tim Walz, a DFL candidate for governor this year, said Tuesday he’s backing an assault-weapons ban in Minnesota and other “common sense solutions” to stop gun violence.

Walz has touted his support from the NRA in prior campaigns, donning a camouflaged NRA hat while running in a southern Minnesota district filled with rural towns.

But the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week by a young gunman with an AR-15 assault rifle laid bare what has been a simmering divide as DFL candidates combined their condolences with calls to action.

On Tuesday, Walz posted a statement saying that after hearing the “anger, grief and frustration” of people across Minnesota over gun violence, “I get it.”

When asked later if his change in position is because of heat he’s taking during the contest for the DFL endorsement for governor, Walz said he’s always learning.

“As a legislator I’ve always been proud to say if the facts dispute our ideology, we change the ideology,” he said after attending a rally at the Capitol. “And I have done that on numerous issues and this is one that I think I’m moving where the country is moving.”

Still unclear is what would count as an assault weapon that would be banned. Walz said he would consult with gun owners and others to define that, basing it on factors such as firing capacity.

“This is one of those cases where people know what these things are, they know why they’re buying them and they’re ending up in these horrific situations,” Walz told reporters. “Going forward, that’s why we bring in the responsible gun owners. We ask them. We ask them to sit there at the table and talk to us about getting this right.”

He reiterated that he’s donated contributions to him from the NRA and won’t take any in the future.

“All Minnesotans want solutions to ending gun violence and they want them now,” he said. “They’ve had it and I’ve had it with the years of obstruction and inaction.”

He vowed to build new coalitions to “finally end the obstruction, get the NRA out of the way and get us to the common-sense solutions that we all agree on, “including universal background checks, a bump-stock ban and “and yes, after listening hard to Minnesotans, an assault-weapons ban in Minnesota.”

One of his opponents in the race for the DFL endorsement said Minnesotans will have to decide whether Walz is changing his position for political gain.

“I mean it is an election year. He’s running for a very different position,” said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester. “I frankly think he was always wrong in his support of the gun lobby.”

  • Jeff

    Great, I hope he continues to campaign on this issue all the way into the general election and that he doesn’t stop talking about it after he wins the primary.

  • Fred

    This flip-flop isn’t going to endear him to our out-state brethren.

  • Frank Burns

    If Walz can articulate a good argument for banning assault rifles and campaign on it, more power to him. Events of the past year have shown me that on issues like sexual harassment there can be a clear break with the past, and this latest shooting could well follow the same pattern. Anyone who sees the light regarding our terrible problem with firearms that have no business being in civilian hands has my blessing at least.

    • Robert Baker

      Assault rifles are already banned for most of the public. I think you mean assault weapons. The liberal made up terms can become confusing.

      • phil ford

        I believe the obvious intent is lowering the victim/minute ratio. (though I’ll admit the LEGAL language needs to be precise to avoid endless court wrangling)

      • Tmaximus

        you could call them weapons of war because…they are.

        • Wes Peterson

          ….cause you’ve been in a war and know what a weapon of war is.

          • Tmaximus

            Yes. Yes, I have. It’s not fun and frolics when rotting body parts fall from trees when you need to get out of the sun and stuff like that….or when you’re scraping parts of someone’s face, blood and guts off your windshield…. but I digress.

    • Billy

      We don’t have a “terrible problem” with firearms. We have a terrible problem of the government not doing their jobs and following up on tips, leads, or reporting domestic assaults that would lead to a person not getting a gun.
      Blaming the gun for this is like blaming s fork or spoon for your weight problem.

    • Lorri G.

      Military weapons were banned from civilian hands decades ago & that’s not changed. Here we’re talking about look-a-like weapons. The AR-15 is akin to women Botoxing their lips to look like Angelina Jolie’s lips. It doesn’t make them Angelina Jolie any more than the AR15 looking like a military weapon makes it a military weapon.

      • Frank Burns

        I’ll outsource the explanation of why the AR-15 is a military assault rifle to author Joe Haldeman, from his novel 1968:

        The Black Death (2)

        The M16 that Spider carried in 1968 was the retarded child of an elegant parent, the Armalite AR-15, designed by weapons genius Eugene Stoner. The AR-15 was an ideal weapon for jungle warfare – lightweight, reliable, deadly. Its tiny 5.56-millimeter bullet was more lethal than the 7.62-millimeter one it was designed to replace, because it tumbled end over end inside the victim’s body, tearing a wide swath of destruction rather than punching a neat hole straight through. If it hit a bond, it could glace off at any angle; there were stories of bullets that would hit a man in the leg and rip all the way up through the body to exit through the top of the head.

        But the U.S. Army did not accept the AR-15 without modifications. The bullet tended to wobble at minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which could be a real disadvantage if we declared war on Antarctica, so they increased the “degree of twist” in the rifling, which stabilized the round in frigid weather, but also reduced the amount of tumbling inside the victim, and thus the weapon’s lethality. …

        Needless to say, this is why those kids in Florida didn’t stand a chance if they were hit. The bullet from the AR-15 tore through their organs and there was nothing left inside, and nothing doctors could do but watch them die.

  • Tmaximus

    So…let’s get this right. The slaughter of elementary school kids, a few hundred victims & 59 dead at a hillbilly concert, movie goers, colleges, church goers, women’s clinics, synagogues, mosques, night club, Xmas luncheon, etc. wasn’t enough to have these NRA money recipients find their humanity. But… finally some vocal surviving teens did what a grown man’s mirror could not do….awaken his humanity and empathy for others right to life. For a sentient being, one slaughter was more than enough. One could become jealous of how roosters start the day screaming and the rest of us are just supposed to act like everything’s cool. Those kids were brave during the shooting in Florida and even braver for putting up with the right wing’s prolific death threats and verbal abuse interjecting into their grief.

    • Billy

      If ignorance is bliss, you must be one happy person. You know not what you speak of and make your side look even more ridiculous than it already is. Walz is nothing more than a panderer to the latest cause and he will regret his decision later.
      Oh, and I’m going to wager you’re more than happy to fund the mass murder of thousands of babies each and every year. Am I wrong?

      • Tmaximus

        Actually…let’s go back to the good old days like the right wing wants….fund to re-open all the state run orphanages that were full to the rafters with the All American males’ abandoned spawn created with their Back Seat Betty. That way they won’t be held responsible or accountable anymore for their lack of morals, family values or child support anymore. Bonus! They can all harmonize their bible bigotry’s ‘moral superiority’ sing-a-long. Just follow the bouncing ball!

  • PaulMN

    Tim Walz just lost my vote. I will be looking for another candidate to endorse.

  • Wes Peterson

    The AR15 is NOT an assault rifle. Do your homework before you take a stand or speak out.

    • Tmaximus

      It’s only a weapon of war.

      • Jon

        Name one military unit in the world that is issued an AR15. Name one war in which it has been employed.

  • Joel Nielsen

    When I was a kid, we all had access to rifles. I was born and raised in a small farming community and us “city kids” would take our rifles our of town to the “woods” and target practice. These same rifles had the firing capacity of the AR15. Each time you pulled the trigger the rifle fired one bullet. The only difference now is that the AR15 looks like an assault rifle. It is not. It has the same capacity as the rifles I fired as a kid. This is nothing but a story for the media that is pushing it and blowing it all out of proportion. As for the lose of life, what are they saying about black kids in inner cities killing themselves. NOTHING.

  • Jon Eggleston

    Mr. Walz’s statements indicate a simple-minded misunderstanding of the issue. Whether this is really the case, or that he has cynically decided that this stance is politically expedient in the current climate, is beyond my ability to tell. In either case, I don’t think he needs to worry about what to do with future NRA contributions..
    By the way, do you suppose he has any idea how many semi-automatic magazine-fed rifles there are in Minnesota? He should. Simple arithmetic will show the futility, let alone the irrationality, of a ban. After the next tragic fire started by a kid with matches, will he propose a ban on matches and (horrors!) push-button high-capacity lighters?

  • Frank

    What a weasel.

  • Pete Reck

    I would rather have a law that states that any semi auto gun cant have a clip that holds more then 4 rounds.and one in the pipe for a total of 5 rounds.This would let law abiding citizens possess and use there guns.Banning semi auto rifles will not change anything with the lunatics in the world.Those individuals that carry out a malicious act don’t care about this sentence “Thou shalt not kill.” …

    • Lorri G.

      & criminals, thugs, gangs, and the black market will abide by such a law?