WASHINGTON — Colorado’s Mark Udall indicated support for two key proposals of President Obama’s legislative package to reduce gun violence, taking a stand slightly to the left of his fellow Senate Democrats who also are up for re-election in 2014.
The Colorado Democrat told Denver’s FOX affiliate last month he supports a renewal of the assault-weapons bans that lapsed in 2004.
After Obama rolled out his legislative proposals and signed executive orders Wednesday, Udall released a statement that indicates he also supports a ban on magazine clips of more than 10 bullets.
“While Colorado has a storied tradition of gun ownership, I am not certain that owning high capacity ammunition clips or weapons made for the battlefield are necessarily part of that heritage,” he wrote.
Udall’s statement did not mention his position on requiring universal background checks on prospective gun buyers and authorizing $150 million for schools to hire more police officers.
While Udall’s attempt to straddle the guns issue is nothing new, it departs from several of his Senate Democratic colleagues standing for re-election next year. Democrats from smaller, more rural states that former Gov. Mitt Romney carried in 2012 released statements or made comments that were cooler to Obama’s gun package.
Take Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. He challenged the thrust of Obama’s proposals, suggesting they were misdirected. “Before passing new laws, we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners in Montana instead of one-size-fits all directives from Washington,” he said.
Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina indicated more support for Obama’s gun package, but less than Udall. “I will look at any proposal with an open mind, including the President’s proposals to make schools safer and grant law enforcement additional tools to prosecute gun crime,” she continued.
Jennifer Duffy, Senate editor of the Cook Political Report, said “(t)here are always Senate Democrats that won’t vote for gun control …You go into some of these districts and states, you’ve got a very, very different situation.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) represents a conservative district, as both the US Air Force Academy and the Focus on the Family headquarters are in his central Colorado seat. Lamborn said he was “skeptical” of Obama’s call to reinstate the assault weapons ban, noting “(g)un bans have proven ineffective in the past.”
The results of some recent national polls suggest that Udall’s support for limiting magazine rounds may be popular, while his support for an assault weapons ban is not.
A National Journal poll found that 56 percent support and 41 percent oppose eliminating ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds. The same survey found that most opposed renewing the ban on semi-automatic weapons. Forty six percent agreed the ban should be renewed, while 51 disagreed. More than three in five Democrats supported the ban, but only 45 percent of independents and 37 percent of conservatives agreed.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) has said he plans to introduce the proposal in the new Congress.
Duffy said re-imposing the ban on semi-automatic weapons would be tougher sledding in Congress than limiting high-capacity clips, but said gun-control supporters will struggle to enact their measures even if Obama pursues an LBJ-style lobbying blitz.
“All of these proposals have a better chance as stand-alone bills,” she said, “but for Obama to lobby for them like LBJ would represent a real departure from the previous four years. When have we seen him do that?”