Two Colorado gun rights groups have taken aim at four of their state's Democratic legislators in a recall effort, following passage of what many have described as some of the toughest gun-control measures in the country.
Three of the controversial bills were signed into law in March by Gov. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat. The new laws require background checks on all gun sales and transfers, charging gun purchasers for the cost of the background checks and imposing a 15-round limit on ammunition magazines. The Democratic majority in both houses passed the bills without any Republican votes.
The governor is also expected to sign a bill the legislature passed before adjourning on Friday that prohibits domestic violence offenders from owning guns. Two other Senate proposals, extending liability for gun violence and banning concealed weapons on campus, were dropped after hundreds of gun rights activists showed up at hearings to testify against them.
Two citizens' groups, Pueblo Freedom and Rights and Basic Freedom Fund, have been circulating petitions to recall four of the lawmakers, including Senate President John Morse, who sponsored a bill that would have made owners, sellers, and manufacturers of guns liable for any harm done with the firearms. Though Morse withdrew the bill when he realized there were not enough votes to pass it, his efforts nevertheless have drawn the wrath of gun rights advocates. Senators Angela Giron and Evie Hudak, sponsors of the magazine restriction, and Rep. Mike McLachlan are the other legislators targeted in the recall effort.
The signature count, which has a May 21 deadline, must equal 25 percent of those voting in the last election (in each legislator's particular district) to force a recall vote. According to the Denver Post, that would mean 7,178 signatures against Morse, far fewer than the 18,692 needed in Hudak's district or the 10,586 in McLachlan's. No effort is being made to recall Hickenlooper, probably because it would take nearly 450,00 signatures statewide to force a recall vote on the governor.
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Photo of man firing a 5.56 mm rifle at a shooting range outside Colorado Springs, Colorado: AP Images