September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
7 months ago

Colorado recall: Pro-gun control Democrats ousted

(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.

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."


Filed under: Colorado • Gun control • Gun rights • NRA
soundoff (1,113 Responses)
  1. glaird

    I see the general rationale behind the posts below. If the majority speaks and it is not politically correct, then the majority is stupid and must be led by the intellectual elite. If the law of the land says something, but the intellectual elite are disturbed by it, then the founding fathers must have been stupid. Lastly, if one is the intellectual elite, then everyone must listen and obey, because after all, by virtue of their self righteous pride, they are always correct.
    The 2nd Amendment has been the law of the land for 250 years. It has been twice upheld by the Supreme Court in 2010. It is there, not to protect sporting rights, nor personal property. It is there to protect us from the very intellectual elite described above, who would box up the masses in cattle cars and send them off to a final solution, if a rationale could be cooked up to justify it. Can't happen you say? Germany 1930-40, Argentina 70's, later, China 1950, 1967, 1989, N. Korea every day, Cambodia 1975, Rwanda late 90's, Balkans late 90's, Soviet Union under Stalin, the US under FDR during WWII (Remember the Japanese US citizens). Need I go on; because the historical incidences are nearly endless?

    September 11, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Sooner

    @Mo, couple things...first of all, that "black market" you speak of, would never disappear. There are so many guns in circulation, you would NEVER be able to register all of them, and for several reasons. 1) Criminals wont register what they already have. 2) None of us gun owners would honestly report what we have, you make think thats wrong, but we dont. I might register my 20ga pump, but thats it. And one more note, you claim our world is defined by what we fear? Quite the hypocrit, aren't you? These anti-gun people are the ones who are afraid, I think thats pretty clear. The only fear I have, as it relates to guns, is the fear that some idiot burgler might make the mistake of coming in my house, and I would have to replace my carpet after they take him away.

    September 11, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Jeebus Chreebus

    If you need more than 15 rounds, you're probably planning on going on a shooting rampage.

    September 11, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Marcus

    'Sooner – I saw a comment that basically said "These nut job gun lovers are going to kill us all one day". Well, if that is true, who do you think is gonna be the first to go? I bet it wont be the people with the guns!! LMAO keep crying, I suspect this is the begining of a sweeping victory for us "gun nuts"!'

    You... bet? You believe that something will happen the way you believe it will so deeply and madly that you... bet?
    Ok, fine, but how much will you bet and what will happen if you lose?
    Like, you know, that weaponless lady that managed to convince a 'gun nut' do NOT do what he originally intended to do and made him surrender?

    September 11, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Bill Smells

    @Rudy NYC–

    Your mayor, who spent more money than the NRA by a factor of nearly 10x, lost. He couldn't buy this election because the will of the people is far greater than money. So trying to vilify the will of the people under the shroud of "the evil, powerful NRA" is bunk.

    This is just a clear sign that the will of the American people is NOT anti-gun, but quite the contrary. Americans have clearly shown through the democratic process that they will not tolerate and infringement of their Second Amendment rights. This is something you and the rest of the liberal Democrats need to come to grips with.

    September 11, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Kevin Thompson

    Absolutely shocking. Democracy works. The comments on this article are amazing. Differing opinions are allowed.
    If it does not go YOUR way,,,Then the majority of voters who participated did not agree with your opinion or WANT.

    The Cattle have spoken, and however upset YOU may be, That is the way it is and That is the way it was designed.

    September 11, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Fubarack

    Glad these loons were swatted down. Gun bans make everyone less safe, and the stats prove that. And even if gun laws targeted the people doing the crimes, there is still the issue of freedom. I would prefer the state provide me with my own highways free of drunks and unlicensed illegal aliens, but that is not going to happen. There is risk in everything.

    September 11, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. B. McKay

    No one in the world; and I mean no one, can understand Americans. You want the freedom to own a gun for protection and yet you have the highest gun related death stats in the world. Your whole country is based on a culture of death. From your overwhelming military, to your gun industry, to your health care. It's all about killing people.

    September 11, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. tom

    This needs to happen in Maryland. The liberal legislators here took it upon themselves to enact sweeping gun control legislation without giving much, if any, thought to how their constituents feel.

    September 11, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. us_1776

    Let the SLAUGHTER continue...

    .

    September 11, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Capt. Jellico

    So much for the "90% of Americans support more gun control" argument. This will serve as a warning to all politicians that might consider supporting this type of legislation. No, not the Feinsteins or the Waxmans, but the politicians who tend to flap in the wind (which is most of them). Any thoughts they might have had about supporting more gun control are now gone and those people will either oppose such measures or be absent when they come up for a vote. The days of passing laws like the Clinton "Assault Weapons" Ban, or quietly sneaking in crap like the Hughes Amendment are over!

    September 11, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Al

    So the gun nuts win again. Heaven help us.

    September 11, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. T.W.A

    To bad we can"t recall Obama!!!!!

    September 11, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. chris

    Go Colorado! Stop crying to the rest of ya'll GOP gonna take all in 2016

    September 11, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Greg

    Lawless4U. As opposed to Mayor Bloomberg spending millions of his own money to influence elections in other states where he doesn't reside and has no personal stake? I'll take the symbolic victory over the communist nanny state any day, thanks.

    September 11, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. martin

    Great news! If they want to fix the law without trampling all over people's rights to bear arms, prosecute those who use guns illegally – as well as – those who own those guns but were negligent in allowing their illegal or unauthorized use.

    September 11, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Jeebus Chreebus

    The Republican party is owned and operated by the gun lobby.

    September 11, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. dana ely

    Gun control is really man-control gussied up in a legislative or
    regulatory dress. It is a way for the government to emphasize their
    monopoly on the use of lethal violence. Any of these supposed gun
    control laws only create the simulacra of safety but the end result is
    the constant intimidation of the law abiding and the ceding of
    responsibility to an uncaring bureaucratic government that is only
    concerned with one thing, covering its bureaucratic ass.
    I lived in Northeast DC for over 22 years where you could not even own a
    handgun. The strictest gun control laws in the history of the country.
    The result? the law abiding hid behind their metal barred doors and if
    you went out on the street you better not make eye contact other wise
    you would end up like this guy:
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P...

    September 11, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. Phil in KC

    When did CO get so right-wing? I know they've always leaned to the right, but they also had a certain progressive streak. Looks like the neo-cons have taken over. Too bad.

    September 11, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. HJA

    Under current laws nothing stops a felon from getting a firearm. A CNN report showed CNN reporters buying 4 weapons (one an AR15) at gun shows no questions asked. I guess the NRA figures felons have gun rights too.

    September 11, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. helipilot

    so if we dont need more than 15 rounds then why do police need them?...people forget us civilians are victims of the same people the police go against but if you tell a cop he can't carry more than 15 rounds he will laugh

    September 11, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. Namepaaul n Michael

    Thay should have the right to gun u down...pnm...

    September 11, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Mo

    You seem to be confused about the meaning of the word "keep and bear." If your gun is registered, you can still keep it. You can still "bear" it. Keeping and bearing are completely unaffected by registration. You seem to think that the 2nd Amendment says that Congress shall make no laws regulating guns in any form, but the words "well regulated" are right in the text, which is one sentence long.

    One of the most basic tenants of legal interpretation is that all of the words in a law must be afforded a functional meaning. That is – the Courts should assume that a legislature had a purpose for all of the words it used. Otherwise, judges could just pick the parts they think are a good idea. So here's the rub – What functional meaning do you gun rights advocates attribute to the first half of the single sentence that is the second amendment.

    September 11, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. craig

    No mention of firearms or guns in the Constitution. The definition of "arms" has not changed since the arm(ies) of Ceasar.
    Just a fact folks.

    September 11, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Donna

    Jeebus Chreebus
    If you need more than 15 rounds, you're probably planning on going on a shooting rampage.
    -----

    If accosted by a group of thugs, it is nice to know that the Democrats would grant us all the privilege of one bullet per thug. And should we not be accurate with any of the shots, oh welll, so much for your life. Thank you Democrats for putting the power back into the hands of criminals and not the law abiding citizens that may need that extra bullet to protect their life. I guess we just aren't worthy of your trust.

    September 11, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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