John Morse, the Democratic president of the Colorado state Senate, was recalled from office Tuesday night, as was Democratic state Sen. Angela Giron.
Morse and Giron helped stiffen Colorado's gun laws, and were ousted in a recall that turned into a nationally watched referendum on gun control.
Morse, who pushed for the legislation's passage, was defeated on a 51 percent-49 percent vote. Giron lost 56 percent to 44 percent.
The two were replaced by Republicans that oppose the new restriction, and the loss of Morse and Giron is seen as the biggest defeat for gun-control advocates since the push for expanded background checks failed in the U.S. Senate.
It also gave moderate lawmakers across the U.S. a warning about the political risk of voting for stricter gun laws. Morse called the loss of his seat "purely symbolic" and defended his own record as "phenomenal."
“We made Colorado safer from gun violence,” Morse said. “If it cost me my political career, that’s a small price to pay.”
Colorado is one of 19 states in which voters can recall state officials, and no evidence of fraud or official misconduct is needed to gather the signatures necessary to hold a special vote.
Tuesday's elections prompted gun-control advocates to argue that the results should not be over-read. In the recall, voters did not receive ballots automatically -- a change for Colorado, in which the majority of voters cast their ballots by mail.
The vote does not necessarily mean Republicans will control the Senate, nor that the gun laws signed in by John Hickenlooper will be repealed.
“This election does not reflect the will of Coloradans, a majority of whom strongly support background checks and opposed these recalls,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement distributed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group he co-founded, which put $350,000 into the referendum.
“It was a reflection of a very small, carefully selected population of voters’ views on the legislature’s overall agenda this session.”
The National Rifle Association donated six figures on the other side.
“The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (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,” the NRA’s political arm said in a statement.
While the vote has symbolic value, its immediate impact on policies will be limited, according to Colorado State University professor John Straayer.
"The sound and the fury, the noise and the money are far larger than the consequences,” Straayer said.