(CNN) – Voters booted out two Democratic state lawmakers in Colorado on Tuesday in a heated recall effort that generated national headlines as a referendum on the renewed gun control debate.
Both lawmakers voted in favor of the state's unpopular new gun laws earlier this year, sparking a wave of protest that got their names on the ballot for the state's first-ever recall at the state level.
Follow @politicalticker Follow @KilloughCNN
State Senate President John Morse, who was a little more than a year shy of finishing his final term in office, conceded after he narrowly failed to win enough votes to keep his seat representing Colorado Springs. He was term-limited and would not have been able to run for re-election next year.
Read more: Colorado recall a proxy in national gun control debate
According to results from the secretary of state, 51% of voters in his district said "yes" to the recall, while 49% said "no." He'll be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin.
Morse's colleague, state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, was also on the ballot and conceded late Tuesday night. She lost in a 56%-44% yes-no vote, and will be replaced by Republican George Rivera.
Giron's loss came as a bigger surprise, as her district is more Democratic than Morse's.
The new laws in Colorado, which took effect in July, limit firearm ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and require universal background checks on all firearm sales.
National groups on both sides of the gun rights debate jumped into the race, pouring money into a state level contest that normally would generate few headlines beyond Colorado's borders. But gun rights activists and gun control supporters nationwide saw the election as a chance to score an electoral victory for their respective movements.
Following the deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado last July and the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December, the Democratic-controlled legislature and Democratic governor quickly ushered the laws into place by mid-March.
A former police chief, Morse spent the past six weeks going door to door, asking voters to help him keep his job.
"You have to take it personally to some extent," Morse told CNN in an interview before the election. "But I also understand this is way bigger than me. I need to do it for those way bigger reasons."
While campaigning, Morse argued he doesn't have any regrets in his fight for tighter gun laws. Asked why he advocated for new regulations in the face of fierce opposition, he pointed to the real catalyst of the renewed firearm debate.
"The vision of 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown being carted out on stretchers, with their Power Rangers T-shirts now covered by a white sheet," he said. "We can't continue to bury our children."
Giron also said she was "proud" that she voted for the gun laws.
"This is not the wrong business to be fearful about doing the right thing," Giron told CNN before the election.
But in a state with rich gun culture and tradition, a majority of voters, however, disagree with the laws. According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%. Democrats were supportive of the measures, 78%-16%, while Republicans more strongly opposed them, 89% to 7%.
More importantly for electoral purposes, a majority of independent voters opposed the laws, 56%-39%.
Tim Knight, founder of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, the group that initiated the recall against Morse, labeled the election as a "victory" for the state and those "who have been subject to the overreach of a Democrat agenda on guns, taxes, and accountability to the people."
"Since day one, they said it couldn't be done," Knight continued. "Tonight, this is a victory for the people of Colorado, and we share this victory with them."
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which helped mount the recall effort, also celebrated the results as a major milestone.
"(NRA-PVF) is proud to have stood with the men and women in Colorado who sent a clear message that their Second Amendment rights are not for sale," read a statement from the group.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, argued the gun laws are still in place in Colorado, despite the lawmakers' ouster. The pro-gun control group vowed to continue supporting like-minded candidates, hoping to tamp down fears that the recall sent a message to lawmakers across the country.
"For the last 20 years, the NRA has had the field to themselves in contests like these, but no more. We're committed to backing elected officials across the country who are willing to face these attacks because they agree with Americans about the need for better background checks," Bloomberg said in the statement.
Gov. John Hickenlooper said he was "certainly disappointed" by the outcome but acknowledged voters in the two Senate districts "have spoken."
I have never posted one of these inane comments, but I can't help myself.........
If I lived in CO I would take a gun and blow my brains out after this recall vote. However it appears the voters there have no brains to start with. Sounds like they have more guns than they have brains. When is the next massive shooting scheduled?
Citizens are not opposed to legitimate solutions to real problems. Clearly, these laws are nothing beyond feel-good political gestures that restrict law-abiding citizens. We need better than that........ And we need the right to protect ourselves...............
If this had been a "pro-gun" senator ousted, the media would be trumpeting it and it would be national news (ala TX senator Wendy Davis' pro-abortion filibuster) and on all the news shows instead of buried in the "non-event" news by the liberal media.
Way to go Colorado! If Obama thought 2010 was bad, just wait until 2014.
This is what happens when you limit debate on a subject and push thru your way and block others to speak. Also the big money from NY mayor did not buy the people's vote, this is the heartland of US and still has a voice. you may say some are crazy for wanting to break away fron the state over the gun rules and form a new state but you see they are tring to to it the correct way by vote not by forcing something thru the systems as the senate menbers did. Great to see the rights of the people to be able to recall and hold the lawmakers feet to the fire. I wish all states could and at time wish we could do the sameto higher offices.
I guess if your going to legalize drugs in your state your going to need all the fire power you can muster so the people expecting "Free Stuff" dont take them.
Can someone please explain how an expanded background check infringes on your right to bear arms? Please don't say because it puts your name on a list that could one day be used to track you down and take your guns. The background check has existed for years and we all still have our guns.
Voters in Colorado will get exactly what they deserve two wimpy representatives who will go which ever way the air blows instead of doing the right thing.
Well the next time some crazy opens fire in a Colorado movie theater, do the cops even need to show up? I mean, doesn't this mean they support crazy people and mass murder?
For those in the NRA that are cheering; here a stark reality. You may have won a battle, but the real war is in the technology that is coming, which you have already lost. Drones in the air, drones on the ground, robocop assisted suits, to robocops. The technology is here, the cost is prohibitive yet, but advances in cost reduce are coming fast!
You are the fools!
People in Amereica are getting stupider and stupider ! No amount of guns are going to make you safe !
What will make you safe is , taking guns away and educating children and giving people oppurtunities
for jobs .
Good. But we should have cut the head off the chicken in '12 – and ripped through the rest of this cancerous scum off the pages of history. IF you want to change something you need to start cleansing California AND New York, then you might start rebuilding this once great country tis of thee.
You could put a relevant picture to the story, maybe pictures of the ousted traitors to our constitution, sworn to follow.
I am from the middle east and when I go hunting I want my two 30 round clips with my ak. thank you republicans for the recall. when my three other brothers get here next month they also will buy ak's with many 30 round clips.
Finally the Republicans have figured out a way to win elections!
This isn't surprising to me – the issue doesn't have any simple solutions. I'm a democrat, and also a gun owner. I own an AR-15, and I enjoy shooting it. I don't think the issue is simple as limiting "assault style" weapons or the size of magazines per se, or making guns illegal at all. There are just certain kinds of people that you can't let get any kind of deadly weapon in the first place, and the truth is, there is just no easy way to do it.
Unfortunately, there will be negative consequences no matter which side you take on the issue.
A political candidate is beaten in a recall election by another candidate. What picture does CNN pic? A picture of the losing candidate? The winner? A victory rally? No. A generic scary looking picture of a gun, brass knuckles, and a trove of ammo. It's as if they titled the article "Colorado Voters Are Scary Hicks LOOK!"
CNN ought to be ashamed.
Although the rabidly anti-gun New York City rules New York State by virtue of their population, the Upstate gun-owning voters will be heard. There may not be a recall of King Cuomo, but through a refusal to obey his illegal and unconstitutional edicts we will not be ignored.
CNN"s liberal lies are cute. You libs dumped money and resources into this race. Your opponents didn't. They went about their lives. The enemy of the liberals in this case, was the voters. Ha, ha. Love it.
Now, shouldn't you libs get back to arming Al Qaeda as your President demands?
Well what do you know. The will of the people in the local districts prevailed and not the will of the White House. There is hope for the future.
I guess the majority has spoken. We are not happy with the democrates trying to take away our rights and tired of the democrates telling us how we should live our lives.
Wake up democrates, whos next.
CNN is lame for not making this headline news.
I am surprised CNN even ran this.