Colorado Recall of Anti-Gun Democrats Sends Message to Lawmakers: 'This Could Happen To You'

Tuesday's recall elections of two Colorado state legislators who spearheaded the campaign to impose new gun control laws earlier this year is sending a message to lawmakers nationwide: "This could happen to you."

Sen. John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) failed to keep his seat with 51 percent of voters in his district saying "yes" to the recall. He'll be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin.

Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) also lost in a 56 to 44 percent vote. She'll be replaced by Republican George Rivera.

"Gun rights activists nationwide see the election as a pivotal moment in the gun debate," wrote CNN's Ashley Killough. "If Morse and his Democratic colleague, state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, are both ousted, some say it will send a cautionary message to other lawmakers: Mess with guns and this could happen to you."

"The downfall of John Morse and Angela Giron should send a message that extremist anti-gun politicians are not beyond the reach of angry voters," said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a Sept. 11 press release. "Tuesday's recall vote affirms that the power of government ultimately resides in the hands of the people."

"Taken together, the losses arguably represent the biggest defeat for gun-control advocates since the push for expanded background checks failed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year," writes Sean Sullivan on Sept. 11 in The Washington Post. "The message the defeat of Morse and Giron sends to legislators all across the country is unmistakable: If you are thinking about pushing for new gun-control laws, you could face swift consequences.

Morse and Giron were among the most vocal of the Democratic lawmakers who imposed new gun control laws in mid-March, when Colorado became the second state after New York to put new gun laws on the books after December's Newtown school shooting.

Effective July 1, Colorado's new laws limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and require universal background checks on all gun purchases. Gun buyers, rather than sellers, must pay for their own background checks, a $10 fee.

Gun owners statewide reacted swiftly, launching a grassroots campaign to get their recall petitions on the ballot, and succeeding with Morse and Giron.

National groups on both ends of the spectrum, including the National Rifle Association and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the contests in what CNN's Killough describes as "a proxy war over firearm regulation."

"This was a huge victory for civil rights over extremism," Gottlieb said, "and the well-financed gun prohibition movement knows it. In reality, what yesterday's election shows is that big money, the kind shelled out by anti-gun New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, really can't buy an election."

The Wall Street Journal apparently agrees: "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn't on the ballot Tuesday, but he still managed to lose a couple of important elections."