US & Canada

Colorado voters sack gun-control Democrats

State senators Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, who were sacked by voters in facing recall elections on 10 September 2013
Image caption Sen Angela Giron (left) and Senate President John Morse were recalled over their support for gun controls

Colorado voters have forced out two Democratic legislators - including the state senate president - in a recall election over gun controls.

Senate President John Morse and Sen Angela Giron were kicked out after backing tighter gun-control laws.

Mr Morse said he had "no regrets", but the National Rifle Association said the result showed legislators should protect people's "rights and freedoms".

The vote was at the centre of a national battle over gun control.

The debate gained added emotional resonance following the shooting deaths of 12 people at an Aurora, Colorado cinema in July 2012 and 20 children and six teachers at an elementary school in Connecticut last December.

In the wake of the tragedies, the Democratic-controlled Colorado state legislatures passed new laws banning ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds and beefed up background checks on private gun sales - an effort in which Mr Morse played a leading role.

The new controls infuriated gun rights advocates, who launched the recall - a process by which voters are able to remove elected officials before the end of their terms.

Campaign 'backfires'

In the battle that followed, contributions to opponents of the recall drive dwarfed supporters, at a reported $3m (£1.9m) to about $500,000 - though some independent groups did not have to declare spending.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns - made a personal contribution of $350,000 along with $250,000 from Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad.

Image caption The issue of gun control polarises Americans

But despite the contributions, about 51% of voters in a swing district of Colorado Springs opted to recall Mr Morse. His Republican opponent, Bernie Herpin, reportedly received 83% of votes to become Mr Morse's successor.

Mrs Giron lost her largely blue-collar district by about 56% to 44%, reports said.

Claiming victory late on Tuesday, Mr Herpin said the big pro-gun-control contributions had "backfired".

"In Colorado, we don't need some New York billionaire telling us what size soft drinks we can have, how much salt to put on our food, or the size of the ammunition magazines on our guns," he said, according to Reuters news agency.

The NRA - which gave some $368,000 to the recall effort - lauded the outcome, saying it sent a message to the Senate leader that "his primary job was to defend their rights and freedoms and that he is ultimately accountable to them".

But Mr Morse said he had "absolutely no regrets".

"I said at the time if it costs me my political career, so be it," Mr Morse told Reuters shortly after conceding.

"That's nothing compared to what the families of [gun violence] victims go through every single day. We did the right thing."

Democrats retain control of the state legislatures, and the gun-control measures are set to remain in place.

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