Gov. Tim Walz said Monday he would ask Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to hold hearings on gun measures this fall, following the latest mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

"I will make the call once again, pleadingly, can we at least have a hearing? Can we at least discuss this?" Walz said, adding that he is open to listening to different ideas about how to combat gun violence. "I just think the deafening silence of not doing anything, of rejecting the call to hold a hearing, it simply can't go on any longer."

Democratic leaders and gun safety advocates in Minnesota have long pressed for universal background checks and "red flag" laws that allow law enforcement to remove people's guns if they are deemed a threat to themselves and others.

Gazelka, the top Republican in the Legislature, released a statement Monday saying he is looking for "solutions that work and that have significant bipartisan support."

But he added that expanded background checks are not one of those solutions. "Most gun purchases already require background checks," the Nisswa Republican said. "Universal background checks on sales to relatives, friends, and neighbors have not proven to eliminate deranged murderers from killing innocent people. We can continue to focus on mental health issues broadly and tougher sentencing on felons caught using guns in their criminal activities."

Gazelka did not comment specifically on the red flag proposal.

Gun safety activists increasingly believe that the plague of random shootings in America is moving public opinion. An overwhelming 9 out of 10 Minnesota voters favored mandatory criminal background checks on all gun sales, including those sold privately and at gun shows, according to a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll conducted last year.

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a candidate for president, took issue on Twitter with the GOP focus on mental health, which was echoed Monday by President Donald Trump, who also spotlighted the influence of social media and video games.

" 'Mental illness & hate pulls trigger, not the gun' " is President's dodge to avoid truth," Klobuchar said in a post Monday. "There's mental illness&hate throughout world, but U.S. stands alone w/high rate of gun violence. When someone can kill 9 people in a minute, that gun should never have been sold. Action!"

While political leaders squared off on the back-to-back shootings that killed at least 31 people and left another 50 wounded, Walz ordered flags flown at half-staff across the state until Thursday.

Gun control groups Moms Demand Action and Protect Minnesota announced they will hold a rally near the State Capitol on Wednesday evening. An organizer said Walz may speak at the event.

In one potential sign of compromise, Trump said in a televised speech Monday that he supports red flag laws, which remain mired in the national gun debate in Congress. In an earlier tweet, Trump floated the idea of tying new background checks legislation to immigration reform, but he made no mention of a deal in his prepared remarks from the White House.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House passed background check legislation in February, though Republicans who control the U.S. Senate have not brought it up for a vote. No Minnesota Republicans in Congress voted for the bill. Rural Democrat Collin Peterson also voted against it.

The three Republicans in Minnesota's congressional delegation, Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Pete Stauber and Tom Emmer, said in separate statements Monday that additional gun control measures are not the answer to stem the tide of mass shootings.

A statement from Stauber's office said he voted against the background checks legislation "because it completely ignores the factors that actually contribute to mass casualties while imposing steep penalties on law-abiding gun owners." The statement said Stauber "believes we must pass legislation that navigates a culture that has become desensitized to violence, better diagnoses and treats mental illness, and improves law enforcement response efforts."

Peterson's office did not respond to a request for comment. He has previously said he could support red flag laws if they protect due process.

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she doesn't think Trump's red flag law comment will inspire local action. "Minnesota Republicans, I don't think, read presidential statements as a directive to move off of the Republican Party line, because I think that they see that he is saying what he feels like he needs to say in the moment and they don't hold him to it. And I don't think they hold themselves to change," Hortman said.

Legislators in the DFL-dominated House held numerous hearings in the past session about gun measures. They sought to pass a law that would expand criminal background checks for some private gun sales, as well as a red flag law.

Senate Republicans did not hold hearings on those two measures this session.

Walz, who is a gun owner, has previously said he supports both the measures considered last session. He said he would bring them up during a call to Gazelka on Monday.

The Legislature doesn't reconvene until February. But Senate leaders scheduled several joint meetings of their human services-focused committees, starting this month. The meetings are intended to look into fraud and abuse at the Department of Human Services.

Walz said he would ask the legislators to consider gun measures, as well as a proposed emergency insulin program, during those meetings.

"I'm going to suggest that they stay a little longer and do insulin and guns," Walz said.

Staff writer Patrick Condon contributed to this report. Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044