The NRA claims a couple of victories. They will be short lived. by @DavidOAtkins

The NRA claims a couple of victories. They will be short lived.

by David Atkins

Last night's elections were bittersweet. Alongside the celebrations of De Blasio's victory in the New York City mayoral primary were disappointments in the defeat of two Colorado state senators in driven by the NRA:

Two Democratic state lawmakers who backed tighter gun laws in the aftermath of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut have been voted out of office in a recall election promoted by both grassroots activists and an influential gun-rights lobbying group.

Colorado Senate president John Morse lost by just 343 votes on Tuesday in a swing district in the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs while fellow state senator Angela Giron lost by a bigger margin in a largely blue-collar district that usually favours Democrats.

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 at the 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.

Angered by new limits of 15 rounds for ammunition magazines and expanded background checks on private gun sales, gun-rights activists tried to recall a total of four lawmakers but only succeeded in launching efforts against two. It was the first for state legislators since Colorado adopted the procedure in 1912.

The recalls were seen as the latest chapter in the national debate over gun rights – and, for some, a warning to lawmakers in swing states who might contemplate gun restrictions in the future.

But the vote also exposed divisions between urban and suburban areas and more rural areas in a state where support for guns has not been a partisan issue. Dozens of elected county sheriffs have sued to block the gun laws and some activists are promoting a largely symbolic measure by some rural counties to secede from the state.
So congratulations to the NRA, I suppose. If Public Policy Polling's crosstabs are to be believed (and they probably should be, despite the fact that they didn't even believe it themselves), a full third of Democrats polled supported the recall over gun issues.

But that's not terribly surprising. Both districts are strongly Democratic districts, with low turnout numbers in this election. It's not shocking that those animated by pro-gun beliefs, even among registered Democrats, would be likelier to turn out in this election.

The bottom line is that these seats will remain in Democratic hands, the gun control laws will remain on the books, one of the State Senators in question was going to retire anyway, and the emerging Democratic majority of young and minority Americans remain against gun proliferation.

Still, State Senators Giron and Morse deserve credit for making the right stand even at the cost of their political careers. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is asking people to sign a thank you card for them, which is a good gesture. Courage in public service should be rewarded.

The NRA can claim a couple of victories today, but it changes nothing in the long run.