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Published July 24, 2013, 08:54 AM

Walaker to avoid gun-control group event

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A pro-gun control group of mayors started by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has scheduled an event in Fargo. But neither Bloomberg nor Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker will attend.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A pro-gun control group of mayors started by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has scheduled an event in Fargo. But neither Bloomberg nor Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker will attend.

Walaker is a member of the group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is founded and funded by Bloomberg. The Fargo mayor said he's been criticized since announcing his membership in the group years ago.

"I've never resigned, but I'm not an active member either. So I don't plan on attending," Walaker told The Forum newspaper.

The group says Walaker is the only North Dakota mayor in Bloomberg's coalition. The group claims more than 900 mayors as members.

Walaker said he has been distancing himself from the group because he doesn't want to get involved in big-city politics that have little to do with Fargo.

"I can understand the problems in the big cities. I can understand Boston and New York City," he said. "But is it a problem here in North Dakota? I don't think so."

In 2009, the National Rifle Association led a campaign asking people to email Walaker and encourage him to leave the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. Walaker said residents from South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota let him have it.

"I got emails from all over. And I just don't think it's worth it," he said.

Bloomberg will not be in attendance at the event in Fargo on Monday, said Kelly Steele, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The Fargo visit is part of the group's 100-day "No More Names" summer tour across 25 states that's serving as a rallying event for gun violence survivors, their families and community members who support "common sense gun laws," Steele said.

Bloomberg has not attended any of the events so far, Steele said. The tour started June 14.

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