Rep. Walz rethinks his position on assault weapons

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Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., says he is rethinking his position on assault weapons in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Connecticut that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

Walz, who gets high ratings from the influential National Rifle Association and represents a conservative district, is among lawmakers in Congress who say the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy has them reconsidering their stances on gun control.

Walz has historically opposed bans on assault-style weapons. In 2009, he signed a letter with other U.S. House members that opposed a ban, but now he says it should be part of a national debate, MPR reports.

"I certainly want that to be at the table," said Walz in an interview with MPR.

Walz said he does not want Congress to make a quick legislative fix that doesn’t bring meaningful change, the Mankato Free Press reports.

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

Among Minnesota's other congressional lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison both called for banning assault-style weapons and large clips of ammunition.

Both Minnesota's U.S. senators sit on the Judiciary Committee, which could consider any proposed gun-control bills. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a Tuesday statement said she supports an assault-weapons ban. Sen. Al Franken said in a statement this week that he has supported the ammunition clip ban in the past, MPR reported.

But U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., says there is not much evidence that an assault weapons ban like the one in place between 1994 and 2004 would be effective.

Minnesota state lawmakers also have signalled they might consider new state legislation that would curb gun sales. Moving in another direction, state Rep. Tony Cornish told MPR he plans to introduce legislation to allow teachers to carry guns in schools.

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