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Joe Donnelly Opposes Assault Weapons Ban, Spokesman Says

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JOE DONNELLY ASSAULT WEAPONS
Democrat Joe Donnelly thanks supporters after winning the U.S. Senate race over Republican Richard Mourdock at an election night celebration in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) | AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Freshman Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is opposing a ban on assault weapons sought by President Barack Obama.

A Donnelly spokesman told The Associated Press Wednesday that the Indiana lawmaker will vote against the ban but has not decided whether he would support universal background checks.

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.

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