Colorado lawmakers ousted in recall over support of gun control


A Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver is displayed for customers to rent at the Los Angeles Gun Club on December 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Gun enthusiasts rent the the weapon to try out before making a purchase at a gun store . Leading firearms maker Smith & Wesson reports almost 50 percent increase in sales revenue.


Kevork Djansezian

Two Colorado lawmakers were ousted from the state senate after a recall effort targeted their support of strict new gun laws.

Senate President John Morse and state Senator Angela Giron both failed to win enough votes to hold onto their seats in Tuesday's recall.

The two Democrats will be replaced by Republicans who spearheaded the recall. 

The Colorado legislature passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation this year including adding background checks for private gun sales and putting a 15 round limit on magazines.

Both Morse and Giron voted for the bills, which were signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March.

Tuesday's recall was seen as a gauge of public support for stricter gun laws nationally after recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Conn.

The National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund applauded Morse's defeat in a statement.

"The people of Colorado Springs sent a clear message to the Senate leader that his primary job was to defend their rights and freedoms and that he is ultimately accountable to them -- his constituents, and not to the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires," it said

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Morse will be replaced by former Colorado Springs councilman Bernie Herpin while former Deputy Police Chief George Rivera will replace Giron.

National advocates on both sides of the issue funneled a huge amount of cash into what, on the surface, should be a local political race.

Labor groups, gun control activists and individual donors including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a total of $3 million to try keep Morse and Giron in their seats.

In the end, it was not enough to save the senators from a recall but a spokesman for Bloomberg's anti-gun violence group is warning not to draw too many national conclusions from the results of the vote.

"The only trend here is the NRA wasn't able to defeat as many legislators as it went after," Mark Glaze from Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns told The Huffington Post.

"A national coalition against gun violence provided counterweight to the NRA in these recalls for the first time. The NRA cherry-picked the most vulnerable legislators in Colorado, including a Senate president who represents one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country."

In an emotional concession speech Tuesday night, Morse called the loss of his seat "purely symbolic" and defended the record of the last legislative session as "phenomenal."

He ultimately said that he will continue to fight for gun control from outside the senate.

"The highest rank in a democracy is citizen, not senate president," Morse said.