Democrats in the West and South who have long embraced gun-owners' rights are facing angry constituents, on edge over a renewed call for a ban on assault weapons from liberal lawmakers in Washington D.C.

The competition between party politics and uneasy voters has several Democratic senators proceeding with caution heading into next year's election season, as gun laws take shape as a major campaign issue that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

At least six such Democratic senators are seeking re-election in pro-gun rural states that supported Republican contender Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Some, such as Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, and Max Baucus, D-Mont., aren't taking chances. Both have come out against any effort to restrict assault rifles.

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