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Published: Saturday, 9/14/2013

The Colorado recall


The Colorado Legislature showed good sense when it voted in March to require universal background checks in the sale of firearms and limits on magazine clips to 15 rounds.

This week, two state senators who supported the gun-control laws lost recall votes in two small districts in Colorado. Their ousters were a disgraceful low point in punitive single-issue politicking by the gun lobby.

The two lawmakers — Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron — showed more political courage in facing up to the gun mayhem than Congress did last April in its shameful retreat from tightening gun laws that allow thousands of deaths each year.

The recalled lawmakers knew the gun lobby would pounce on their votes, but they stood up for the badly needed laws that Congress ducked. Mr. Morse, a former police chief, helped lead the charge against the battlefield-styled weapons used in the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and in Colorado’s own carnage last year at a movie theater.

The act of the Legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, represents an important transition in Colorado, long considered a bastion of rural gun rights. Urban interests and their politicians are more willing to push for sane gun controls; the background check law was supported by 80 percent of state residents polled. The task of the recall proponents, however, was made easier by a controversial ruling against mail balloting, normally heavily relied on by state voters.

The gun lobby is congratulating itself on this vote, aiming to use the recall as the ultimate warning to politicians who might abandon timorousness in the gun-control debate. In truth, the recall fight showed that something sensible could emerge among politicians — at least in Colorado — even if two worthy incumbents were sacrificed. The state’s new laws survive, and Colorado residents are safer for them.

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