A Donnelly spokesman on Wednesday said that the Indiana lawmaker will vote against the ban but has not decided whether he would support universal background checks.
Donnelly issued the following statement:
“I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and my voting record shows that I have stood time and again to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Like all Americans, I was shaken to my core by the senseless murders of 20 children last month in Connecticut. It is only reasonable for all of us to ask, ‘What can we do to make sure this never happens again?’
In 2007, just weeks after 32 people at Virginia Tech were murdered by a single gunman, Democrats and Republicans came together to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used to check the backgrounds of most prospective gun buyers. That system still does not work as well as it should and should be examined again in the coming weeks.
Whether a gun owner or not, a city-dweller or not, a Democrat or a Republican, everyone would agree that we can take steps to reduce violent crime without sacrificing the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. My concern is not those who follow the law, but those who do not. I will give serious consideration to proposals that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
Donnelly represents a key bloc of moderate to conservative Democrats the president must win over. The announcement also marks a key early stance from Donnelly just a few months after winning a state that went heavily for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in last year's election.
Donnelly called himself "a strong supporter of the Second Amendment" in a statement issued shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing featuring testimony from National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.