The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 18, 2012

NRA-endorsed Walz willing to talk about gun control

MANKATO — Congressman Tim Walz has opposed a ban on high-capacity, military-style rifles — sometimes called “assault” weapons — in the past.

And while he hasn’t reversed his position on the federal ban, which expired in 2004, he said Tuesday he’s willing to talk about more restrictions on guns.

“What people are putting forward, looking at assault magazines, assault weapons, that should be in the discussion,” he said.

But he also said he doesn’t want a feel-good legislative fix that doesn’t solve anything.

“It has to strike the proper balance between the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens versus the safety of all Americans,” he said.

It was clear Walz was striking a balance himself. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his contest this year against Allen Quist.

One of the guns used in last week’s school shooting in Connecticut, a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, used 30-round magazines. The expired federal ban used a 10-round limit.

When asked specifically about whether he would support a ban on high-capacity guns, Walz said he would be “willing to entertain, if it’s crafted correctly” reductions to magazine size. He declined to get specific, saying the “devil is in the details” in this case.

But Walz said he isn’t willing to do nothing.

“My take on this is we have a responsibility to get it right. That argument that you can never prevent all of these, it doesn’t remove us from responsibility.”

He said providing access to mental health care for people who need it should also be discussed, as should fully funding the National Instant Background Check System.

In March, he was one of 33 members of Congress to call on his colleagues to fund the system, which helps prevent felons, mentally ill, drug abusers and illegal immigrants from obtaining guns.

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