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Two significant events happened yesterday in regards to the ongoing debate about gun rights and the aftermath of the events in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

The first was the recall of two Colorado legislators who had voted for stricter gun laws. This was Colorado’s first recall election and both State Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and  state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo were removed from office. The laws in question were concerning limiting magazine size and background checks for private gun sales, two often touted gun control measures that many would like to see become Federal law.

The second was a vote in the California legislature to ban new sales of rifles with detachable magazines, i.e. the grand majority of modern semi-automatic longarms, classifying them as assault weapons. In addition, ones already in private hands would need to be registered.

The recall elections are being touted as a referendum on gun control by the NRA and pro-Second Amendment advocates. The expanded California law has received not as much attention, probably because it still has to reviewed by their State legislature, where it can be amended, before it is sent to the desk of the Governor.

Personally, I can’t say that either is a statement about the wider debate, though I do think there are two lessons to be taken away: 1) People react strongly when it comes to guns and 2)their reactions are not without consequences.

The recall vote didn’t draw huge numbers of voters but from what I saw on various message boards, not every person who voted to oust the legislators did so strictly for pro-gun reasons. The measures that were put in place were not subject to public referendum and were rushed through with little chance for the constituency to comment. It was this disregard for public opinion that likely was the tipping point.

California, on the other hand, was already a very gun unfriendly state. Their vote highlights the fact that “assault weapon” is an arbitrary and meaningless term, subject to the whims and passions of legislators with no real regard for how firearms are used. Anything that lumps a .22 target rifle in with a bullpup AK-47 obviously is too broad in scope. The lack of demonstrable effect by any assault weapons ban also speaks against the wisdom of such blanket definitions.

The Colorado recall is likely to cool the fervor of a few less zealous legislators in other states currently considering tighter measures. The Colorado decision will be touted as a victory by the staunchly pro-control crowd, but if it has any effect on anything else, I will be genuinely shocked. What either means for the national debate is questionable, but I think that we may see many Republican candidates getting a boost from this in the upcoming midterm elections as the NRA and other pro-gun groups will be quick to remind people of California’s over-reach and Colorado’s results.

The only thing I know for certain is I am less inclined to go to California, though Colorado is still okay by me.

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