Walz: Statewide 'swatting' shows need for gun safety, mental health funding
Gov. Tim Walz made a pair of campaign stops in Rochester Wednesday afternoon. He stopped at Gray Duck Theater and Garden Part Books, owned by husband and wife Andy Smith and Anna Smith.
ROCHESTER — Gov. Tim Walz again called for a hearing on gun safety in the Minnesota Senate on the heels of a series of “swatting” incidents at schools across the state Wednesday.
Walz said his 15-year-old son, who attends high school in Mankato, Minnesota, came home traumatized after police responded to a fake call reporting an active shooter at the school Wednesday.
Police responded to Lourdes High School around 10 a.m. for a report of an active shooter there.
“For four years now I have asked the senate to hold a hearing on guns and safety and smart changes that we need to make,” Walz said. “I was very specific about what I said — I asked them to hold a hearing — to start out to have a conversation and they won’t even do that.”
Walz, who is running for re-election in November, made a pair of campaign stops in Rochester Wednesday afternoon.
Rachel Aplikowski, communications director for the Senate Republican Caucus, said Walz needs to refresh his memory on the GOP Senate's willingness to talk about gun reform.
"Gov. Walz can say what he wants, but the Senate had two hearings on guns in 2020. One in St. Paul, and one in Hibbing," Aplikowski said.
In fact, Aplikowski noted that Senate Republicans were in talks to deliver gun legislation reforms when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020, changing the focus of legislators.
Walz stopped at Gray Duck Theater and Garden Part Books owned by husband and wife Andy Smith and Anna Smith. Andy Smith is running for Minnesota House District 25B.
After that, Walz spoke to a group of teachers gathered at the Olmsted County DFL headquarters.
Walz said the Republican-controlled state Senate stands between Minnesotans and family leave, a gun safety hearing and secure abortion rights for women.
“I feel like the Senate is why Minnesotans can’t have nice things,” he said.
Walz told the group of about three dozen people at the Olmsted DFL office the incidents Wednesday highlight the need for more mental health resources in public schools.
“Those are issues that the Legislature needs to be talking about,” Walz said. “Not telling us that our curriculum is wrong and banning books that our educators and our parents can have access to and need access to, not trying to defund at a time when we need more mental health counselors.”
He added three more seats are needed to flip the Senate to a DFL majority and pointed to races here in Rochester as being key to that goal.
DFL candidates for Minnesota Senate such as Aleta Borrud, who is running against incumbent Republican Carla Nelson for the District 24 seat, and Liz Boldon, who is running for the Distrct 25 seat against Republican Ken Navitsky, attended both events.
Jeff Ettinger, DFL candidate for the 1st Congressional District, introduced Walz at the second event.
Walz toured Gray Duck Theater, which is on course to become a nonprofit theater , and neighboring Garden Party Books. He said both independent businesses are key amenities for thriving, interesting communities.
Walz also responded to criticism from his GOP challenger Scott Jensen, who spoke to supporters in Rochester Sunday , that Walz’s climate plan is unrealistic.
“That’s thinking that would leave us behind everywhere else in the world,” Walz said. He noted that Xcel Energy, Fortune 500 companies and research companies have endorsed the plan to lower the state's net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. He said the plan is an economic opportunity that aligns with Minnesotans’ wants.
“When you’re looking out to 2050, of course there’s going to be more things that are going to be going on, but these are the people holding us back from even putting in electric car chargers,” Walz said.
Note: This story has been updated with information from the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus.