They are avoiding early endorsement of proposals related to assault weapons and putting their emphasis on mental health funding and background checks.
Majority Leader Harry Reid is worried about a host of swing state senators up in 2014 being forced to take positions on gun bills that have powerful and well-heeled constituencies in opposition and likely won’t pass the House. Although Senator Mark Udall starts in a strong position for re-election and has a generally centrist reputation, he would prefer to not have a host of votes on anti-gun legislation that may never get to the President’s desk.
The voting ratings in the Almanac of American Politics shows the most liberal rated senators are from the Northeast and Midwest, with the exception of Reid. They are all Democrats. The West has many of the most conservative senators, mostly Republican.
Udall’s and Michael Bennet’s voting records are in the centrist camp, along with Montana’s two senators. Dianne Feinstein of California is also rated a centrist, but is taking the lead on the assault weapons ban.
Democrats must defend 20 seats, many in more conservative or battleground states, such as Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Udall in Colorado, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Max Baucus in Montana, Tom Udall in New Mexico, Tim Johnson in South Dakota and Mark Warner in Virginia. Two Democratic seats are now open due to Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia and Tom Harkin in Iowa announcing their retirements in states that have elected Republicans statewide.
See Denver Post: Colorado’s Sens. Udall and Bennet uncommitted on assault weapons ban