By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On the heels of mass shootings in Florida and Las Vegas, gun violence is taking center stage, even in the Minnesota governor’s race.

Rep. Tim Walz, who is a DFL candidate for governor, announced his support Tuesday for tough gun control measures — a big reversal from a man who recently had an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association.

Walz said in a Facebook post that he is now supporting gun control measures, including a statewide ban on assault weapons, after listening to voices across the state.

This is the second time in five months that Walz has walked back his years of support for NRA positions.

rep tim walz DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Walz Walks Back NRA Support Again

Rep. Tim Walz (credit: CBS)

After the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 dead, Walz donated $18,000 in NRA contributions to a veterans group.

“I think it should be expected that our legislative leaders should follow where the will of the people is,” Walz said. “And if you haven’t walked in a coffee shop over the last week and had 15 conversations on how this must end, you’re not getting out, and I’m out, I’m hearing them.”

State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who finished second to Walz in this month’s caucuses, blasted Walz’s new stand

“It’s too little too late,” Otto said. “I’ve been leading on this, he’s following. He took money from the NRA in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016.”

Analysts say the odds of passing an assault weapons ban or other gun-control measures in the Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature is unlikely

“I don’t really see a lot of movement right now among Republicans to want to touch this issue,” said Hamline University Political Science Professor David Schultz.

But gun control is expected to be a key issue at the DFL nominating convention in June.

Walz has said he will not drop of the race if he loses the nomination at the convention. Instead, he will move directly to the August primary, where more moderate DFLers are expected to have a strong say.

Rep. Erin Murphy, who finished third in the DFL caucuses for governor, released a statement last week saying she too supports a ban on sales of AR-15s in Minnesota.

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