September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
12 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. trilleur

    -Marie MD

    "They are more concerned about their gun rights than their own civil and personal rights. The same rights the rethugs have been taking away for months/years."

    guns rights are civil rights, and while we are on the subject, was it the "rethugs" who went after the AP phone records? Was it the "rethugs" who secretly ordered verizon to turn over the phone records of 98.9 million customers? Was it a "rethug" state that until recently had stop and frisk? If you understood that, maybe you would understand why people are less and less willing to surrender more rights to the state especially gun rights.

    September 11, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Maria

    These so called patriots who voted yes in the recall should be ashamed of themselves. No one is suggesting that you cannot own guns, but common sense should tell you that stricter laws are needed. If you are afraid of going through a background check to buy a gun, then you must have something to hide and shouldn't own one! I'm embarrassed today that I live in Colorado.

    September 11, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. chanruss

    Anyone that's for gun control needs to be shot down like a wild animal and gutted like a fish. I need a gun that holds 500 rounds.

    September 11, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Ziberty

    Morse refers to 6 and 7 year olds at Newtown in Power Ranger tees on stretchers with a white sheet over them. Is there anything at all to substantiate this "vision" of his? Thank you, Z

    September 11, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. loyalright

    Glad to see most of the people in Colorado believe in the Constitution.

    September 11, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. NedTaggart

    @Jeebus Chreebus

    Informing anyone of what they need or don't need is assuming that you believe that man is subject to you. Our constitution was put in place to prevent us from being anyone subject.

    September 11, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. fox

    It says to all who would wish to visit, just stay away from Colorada. Too many gun crazy people live there.

    September 11, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Candy Came

    I'm actually surprised. I'm an independent (socially liberal and fiscally conservative) and I thought they voted reasonably in unreasonable times.

    September 11, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Pete

    You hypocrites that are against the expansion of gun legislation font come on here when another massacre occurs,you deserve it..I as well as other gun owners say yes to more in the way of testing before giving anyone the RIGHT TO BARE ARMS!!Especially you republicans who don't own but advocate nothing in gun control expansion until it happens to a love one or friend of yours but than its too late isn't it!!Remember next time you get upset or inadvertantly scream at someone you don't know remember it could be a George Zimmerman or worse and because of your ignorence you too might end up in a country morgue because of the ease of this countrys present gun laws that give guns to almost anyone that wants one,like it or not!!And remember owning a gun is a privilege not a right as a drivers licence is !!

    September 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. east4gre

    "Jeebus Chreebus

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

    So basically anyone with a 9 mm pistol is planning on going on a shooting rampage?

    September 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. TR

    Keep killing eachother America...........has nothing to with guns.....nah!! What a joke! and you wonder why the USA is losing their place in the world!

    September 11, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    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.
    ---------------------
    If didn't keep reading, I would have thought that you were talking about the right wing's disdain for Obamacare, the law of the land.

    You need to check your facts. Hitler's Germany had repealed most of all of the restrictive gun laws put in place following World War I. Throughout the 1930s, most Germans could freely purchase guns as they so pleased. It's one reason why he was so popular with Germans. Unfortunately, Hitler did not extend that right to own a gun to his domestic enemies. The Jews were prohibited from owning guins and ammo. Your account of history is not only flawed, but completely backwards from the facts.

    September 11, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Jim

    Yet another case of well meaning but misguided people passing a redundant law that does nothing to prevent gun crimes. It's already illegal to murder people, and laws keep the honest people honest and provide means of prosecuting those who break them. No law will prevent a sick person from committing a crime that they don't intend to come out of alive.

    Yet more arguments on what a person "needs". Well nobody NEEDS most of the stuff that most people have. Nobody NEEDS a swimming pool. Nobody NEEDS a car that can go faster than 60 mph. Nobody NEEDS junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. All of these things kill more people than guns. Thankfully one is not required to demonstrate a need in order to have something. I'm sure some are going to roll their eyes and say they are tired of this same old argument, well just because you are tired of it doesn't mean it isn't true.

    September 11, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. PaulCat

    Colorado voters really need to be ashame of themselves!

    Colorado of all places.

    September 11, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. Danlien

    O.K psychopaths, that's your cue.

    September 11, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Mo

    1) Criminals wont register what they already have.
    Of course not. However, it would prevent them from obtaining new guns. Once you create two discrete groups – new traceable guns, and old untraceable guns – then you just conduct a war of attrition against the later. Law enforcement takes thousands of guns of the street every year. The problem is that they get replaced.

    2) None of us gun owners would honestly report what we have, you make think thats wrong, but we dont.
    There's nothing like consequences for turning around bad behavior. You want to become a criminal, go for it. There will be a consequence. At least you won't be getting any new untraceable guns.

    3) 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.
    Um, no. The reason you have a gun is because you fear something. The reason I don't have a gun is because I don't have the same fears as you. My position is not defined by personal fears for my safety. I just want a public policy that causes the fewest aggregate deaths. That's not fear – its just reason over emotion.

    September 11, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. GrumpyMel

    The people have spoken and I'm glad for the folks in Colorado to be able to get a step toward getting thier rights back. I just wish folk out here in NY would do the same. For those of you on the other side of the debate, this is how representative government is supposed to work. Just because you don't like the outcome, don't blame people for petitioning the government for redress of thier grievences and voting upon thier beliefs. Blame yourselves for not being more convincing in your arguements toward your neighbors. I have to live everyday when people in my state elect leaders and pass laws I don't agree with, so should you in yours when you can't convince enough of them to see things your way.

    September 11, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. neoritter

    mountainlady writes: "And the NRA wins again. Why don't we just let them run the country and stop pretending to have any kind of democracy? "

    Last I checked there was a vote to recall these people. That's called democracy.

    September 11, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. janer52

    this is the saddest thing EVER. just goes to show you how powerful the NRA. and make no mistake, gun lovers, the NRA is only the 'front man' for gun manufacturers. they could care less about your rights or your safety. their goal is just to sell more guns and brain wash you into believing that they do care.

    September 11, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. saul nowitz

    the nra is nothine more than the hours of the gun industry. the ira should work in a trama unit for a while. gosh we have more guns per person in this country.

    September 11, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Earle

    Way to go Colorado!!! I know the slide to the left will be hard to stop with all the West Coast transplants who moved there for better opportunity. Unfortunately they bring their bad voting habits with them since they didn't learn the economic lessons of higher taxes/more regulations is bad for everyone. We have the same problem in Florida with people from the Northeast migrating here to escape higher taxes and economic stagnation and voting for more gun control. You guys spoke loud and clear, hands off our 2nd Amendment Rights!!! Bloomberg wasted his money trying to buy the election. Good Job!

    September 11, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. noone

    Good for Colorado! I'm no fan of Republicans, who are going to replace the two that were recalled, but it sends a good message to Democrats. "HANDS OFF OUR GUNS!"

    September 11, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. QS

    Ladies and gentlemen, common sense has left the building!

    September 11, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Bud W

    2nd Amendment 1- left wingers -0

    September 11, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. loyalright

    So the Liberal Extremist Radical Democrats were voted out. It's a good start.

    September 11, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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