COLORADO IS the site of two of the most horrific gun massacres in recent history — Columbine High School in 1999 and an Aurora movie theater last summer. It’s also where two state senators face recall elections next month because they dared support a sensible package of gun-control measures that could make future massacres less likely.
The measures passed both chambers of the state legislature, were signed into lawin March and went into effect July 1. They include requiring applicants to pay for background checks and limiting the size of magazines that can be sold. Pro-gun activists in Colorado were outraged. The New York Times reported that one borrowed $4,000 from his grandmother and took a leave of absence from his job as a plumber to “send a message” to legislators in Denver who dared question his constitutional right to buy an AR-15 rifle — the same weapon, it’s worth noting, that claimed so many lives in Aurora.
Other activists gathered the signatures needed to stage recall elections for Angela Giron (D) and John Morse (D), the Senate president and a former police chief. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) has pledged his support for the senators; the National Rifle Association (NRA) is backing the recall campaign with phone banks and mailings.
Although the recall election directly affects only Colorado, it portends a troubling future in which powerful interest groups such as the NRA exert an even tighter stranglehold on legislative proceedings than they already do. Citizens ought to be able to oust elected officials for unethical behavior, as Mr. Morse pointed out in the Denver Post. But political disagreements are settled in regular elections; demanding a recall for every such dispute could inhibit lawmakers from governing.
Ms. Giron, a first-time senator, would be up for reelection next year; Mr. Morse is term-limited in 2014. Colorado taxpayers shouldn’t be subjected to a costly recall effort that puts politicking ahead of policymaking.