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Former NY mayor riles Colorado pols with 'rural' gun remarks

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

DENVER (Reuters) - Republican politicians in Colorado have slammed former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying parts of the Western state that recalled two lawmakers last year over new gun laws were so rural they didn't even have roads.

Colorado's Democratic-controlled legislature passed tighter gun laws last year in the wake of the deadly shooting rampages here and in Connecticut.

But critics slammed the move as severely restricting the constitutional right to own and bear arms, and voters recalled two key Democrats who approved the laws. A third resigned after also being targeted.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bloomberg, a staunch advocate of gun control, blamed the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the recalls.

"The NRA went after two or three state senators in a part of Colorado where I don't think there's roads. It's as far rural as you can get," he was quoted in a story on Rolling Stone's website.

"They lost ... I'm sorry for that. We tried to help 'em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced."

The Colorado Republican Party called Bloomberg's comments flippant and out-of-touch, and the two GOP senators elected as a result of the recalls criticized him as well.

"It's shameful that Mayor Bloomberg would resort to such petty insults," Senator Bernie Herpin of Colorado Springs, the state's second biggest city, said on Thursday in a statement.

Not only does Colorado Springs have plenty of roads, he said, it is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Olympic Training Center and Committee Headquarters, among other noteworthy facilities.

"It's disgusting the lengths he is willing to go to disparage those who believe in protecting our Second Amendment rights," Herpin said.

'EAST COAST ELITES'

Senator George Rivera said voters in Pueblo did not appreciate being stereotyped by "East Coast elites."

"While it might be hard for a New York billionaire to comprehend, we do in fact have roads and running water," he said.

Colorado's gun laws were passed with scant Republican support in response to a shooting spree in 2012 that killed 12 people at a suburban Denver movie theater, and the slaying later that same year of 20 children and six adults at an elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The measures banned ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and required background checks for all private gun sales and transfers.

The curbs met with immediate resistance from opponents that included most of the state's elected sheriffs, who sued in federal court to try to stop their enforcement.

Last month U.S. District Chief Judge Marcia Krieger ruled the laws constitutional. [ID:nL2N0P7284]

The Rolling Stone article was later taken offline, but the editor who interviewed Bloomberg tweeted that it had been published prematurely and would be uploaded on Monday as scheduled.

The three-term mayor, who became particularly outspoken about gun violence after Newtown, was successful in implementing smoking bans and has pushed for measures to tackle obesity.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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