MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tim Walz says he’s donating the money he’s received from the National Rifle Association to charity in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The Democratic congressman who represents Minnesota’s 1st District is, like many lawmakers, under pressure to address gun laws following the Sunday night massacre that left more than 500 wounded and 59 dead, including one Minnesotan.
The gunman, Stephen Paddock, rained fire from his 32nd floor high-rise hotel suite onto concert-goers at a country music festival on the Vegas Strip. The 64-year-old retired accountant then killed himself as police closed in.
The shooting, which is often described as the worse mass shooting in modern U.S. history, has pushed gun control efforts to the fore. Many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have said that now is not the time to talk about gun laws.
One Minnesota lawmaker, who is also running for governor, state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), has called on all Minnesota gubernatorial candidates to give back any campaign contributions from the NRA.
She specifically called out Walz.
“Nearly 700 Minnesotans have been killed by gun violence in the past decade,” her campaign wrote on Facebook. “Until we confront the issue, confront the NRA, it will continue.’
According to a Washington Post report on NRA donations to members of Congress, Walz has receive more than $18,000 from the gun lobbying group. Other Minnesota lawmakers who received money were Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen ($20,150) and Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson ($20,450).
On Tuesday, Walz responded to Murphy’s call, saying that she was using the Las Vegas shooting to “gain a political edge” in the gubernatorial race.
“I get it – that’s politics,” his campaign wrote in a Facebook statement. “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.”
Walz’s campaign says he’s donating the NRA money to The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a national nonprofit that helps support the families of military personnel who are killed or severely wounded in service.
The congressman’s campaign says Walz supports universal background checks and increased funding for mental health services.