One welcome surprise in gun safety occurred this year in Colorado, where the Democratic-led Legislature dared to defy the gun lobby and mandated universal background checks on firearm sales and 15-round limits on ammunition magazines.
The ink was barely dry, however, before the National Rifle Association was vindictively pressing for recall votes against two supporters of the stronger law, the State Senate president, John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and State Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo.
The recall vote, set for Sept. 10, could hardly be more important as a barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.
Colorado traditionally had been a gun-friendly state firmly locked into the reckless agenda of the N.R.A. It suffered its own gun massacres at Columbine High School in 1999 and the Aurora movie theater a year ago without tightening the law. But the slaying of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., in December finally pushed lawmakers in a new common-sense direction, which Gov. John Hickenlooper applauded in signing the law in March.
Senator Morse is a former state police sergeant who knows the gun issue firsthand. A respected Second Amendment proponent, he seems ready to give as much as he gets from gun absolutists aiming to unseat him in the first recall election in state history. “Recalls are for unethical behavior, and not disagreements,” he properly noted in The Denver Post.
For all the message of risk for politicians embodied in the vengeful recall attempt, there is a parallel opportunity for the public to rebuff the gun industry. But enough voters must show up in defense of two lawmakers who conscientiously stood for public safety.
The gun lobby’s defeat in Colorado would send a stirring message to statehouses across the nation that the public must not be denied in demanding better gun safety.