Colorado senators ousted in recall vote after supporting gun bill

Democratic state Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse lose their seats in Tuesday's recall vote

Signs calling for the recall of state Sen. John Morse stand near a polling area during the recall election on Tuesday, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
David Zalubowski/AP

The national gun-control debate took center stage Tuesday in Colorado's first-ever recall elections, with two state senators losing their seats as a result of supporting laws introducing background checks for gun purchases, and ammunition clip limits.

Senate President John Morse and fellow Democratic Sen. Angela Giron conceded defeat Tuesday night. Both had voted for 15-round limits on ammunition magazines and for expanded background checks on private gun sales after the deadly mass shootings in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last year.

"I'm a fighter," Giron said in her concession speech, according to The Denver Post. "We will win in the end, because we are on the right side."

She said she didn't regret the votes that led to her ouster, the Post reported.

The measures were passed by the state’s Democratic-led Legislature this year without any Republican support and signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The National Rifle Association said the election sent a clear message to lawmakers that they should protect gun rights and be accountable to their constituents, not to "anti-gun billionaires" -- a swipe against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supported Giron and Morse.

Democrats will still maintain control of the state Legislature, and the laws are expected to remain in place.

"The loss of this Senate seat is purely symbolic," Morse said.

VIDEO: Colorado recall election sparked by gun control

Earlier this week, Morse told Al Jazeera’s Tamara Banks that the recall election amounted to "some extremists who are throwing an extreme temper tantrum."

The recall votes in Morse's district of Colorado Springs and Giron's district of Pueblo have exposed divisions between Colorado's growing urban and suburban areas and its rural towns. Dozens of elected county sheriffs have sued to block the gun laws, while some activists are promoting a largely symbolic measure to secede from the state.

Seth Masket, an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver, said recalls may become a strategy for gun rights supporters and a new way to intimidate or remove politicians who don't support their interests.

"If you’re considering voting for gun control, you could be attacked for it and you need to be careful," he told Al Jazeera.

The recall elections attracted more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, with the vast majority of the funds -- nearly $3 million -- coming from opponents of the recall effort who support stricter gun control.

Only about $500,000 came from the pro-gun lobby, mainly $368,000 donated by the NRA. Bloomberg, who founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, wrote a $350,000 personal check to the anti-recall campaigns.

Missouri's gun fight

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Missouri are attempting to override their governor's veto of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which is aimed at blocking federal gun laws that allegedly infringe on state residents' rights. 

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed legislation Friday that would have made it a crime for federal agents to attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri. Nixon said the bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives preference to federal laws over conflicting state ones.

Legislators would need a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override Nixon's veto of the the bill, which passed in May with bipartisan support. 

For an override to succeed in the House, Republicans would need to secure 109 votes, which is the exact number of Republican lawmakers in that chamber.

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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