Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) will receive support from an out-of-state gun control group in his reelection campaign, after backing stricter gun laws in the past.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, has raised more than $15 million in support of candidates like Udall, who wants a return of the assault weapons ban. The group wants to limit gun owners to 10-bullet magazines, and to "examine" America’s "glorification of violence."
Following the Newtown, Conn., shooting at an elementary school, Udall called for a return of the 1994 ban.
"I’ve come to the conclusion that military style weapons really don’t have any place in our society," he said in December 2012. "We ought to reinstate the assault weapons ban that served us well for 10 years from 1994 to 2004."
Udall said he made his decision after "listening to Coloradans." Coloradans later kicked out lawmakers who passed sweeping gun control measures in the state through a recall election.
"As I considered what happened in Aurora this summer and now Connecticut and the mass shootings in between, it just seems to me that guns that belong on the battlefield and are used to kill as many people as possible, that we ought to make sure they don’t get in the hands of people who want to commit these heinous crimes," Udall said. "I wanted to believe that the existing laws we have would be enough to prevent these tragedies, but experience tells us otherwise."
Udall also supported limiting Americans to magazines that hold only 10 rounds and a universal background check system.
"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 said last year.
He also predicted the public would rally around universal background checks, which Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) argued could lead to a national registry for gun owners, after legislation failed in the senate.
Udall voted for a universal background check system and a limit on magazines over 10 rounds, but ultimately did not support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D., Calif.) assault weapons ban, which would have prohibited the manufacture of 157 firearms, because it would have banned certain hunting rifles and shotguns. All three measures failed to pass the senate.
The Udall campaign did not return request for comment on whether he still supports a universal background check system and an assault weapons ban.
Giffords formed Americans for Responsible Solutions after she survived a gunshot wound to the head in a shooting in 2011 at a campaign event in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead.
The political action committee has spent $7.4 million this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The group received $250,000 last year from former New York City Mayor and fierce gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg, and $250,000 from Napster founder Sean Parker.
Udall is not the only Democrat that will benefit from the organization’s announced plans to spend $20 million. Incumbents Mary Landrieu (La.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), and Kay Hagen (N.C.) will also receive support, the group announced.
Giffords and Kelly identify themselves as "gun-owning Westerners with moderate, consensus oriented politics," and are committed to passing a universal background check system, stronger penalties for straw purchases of firearms, and banning the sale of guns online.
The group also opposes allowing service members to carry weapons on base.
Funding from outside gun control groups has not helped the cause before. Despite receiving millions from Bloomberg and Giffords’s group, voters recalled two Democratic state senators in Colorado last fall in response to stricter gun laws.
Udall paints himself as an avid hunter and defender of the Second Amendment, while still calling for "comprehensive" action on gun control.
"We need comprehensive solutions that examine our culture's glorification of violence, the effectiveness of our laws, our ability to enforce those laws, and access to firearms, especially those designed for the battlefield," Udall’s website says.