September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
1 year 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. c-lo

    Freedom

    Unless you are a criminal or have a serious mental illness, why would you be against universal background checks?
    -----------------
    Because how do you enforce them without registering every firearm, and even then, those who wish to obtain a firearm illegally will do so, with/without "required" background checks.

    As an alternative, why not use the driver's license as an identifier...if you have a mark on your driver's license (like they do for organ donors) you can purchase a gun. That way, for the conspiracy theorists, there is no "tracking" of individuals. Any disqualifying events would be reported to the DMV so as to not include the marking on the license. The courts already provide criminal data (revocation of license), just add felony reporting. And with Obamacare, all mental health issues will be at the gov't fingertips too.

    I have had a background check for each and every firearm I own, and am not opposed to them in principle, but do not see these laws as effective deterrents.

    I believe there should be a proliferation of firearms, and a responsibility of each household to pass down responsible use and handling like has been done in my family and will continue to be passed down. Yes, this appeared to happen with the Lanza family, but it has been said time and again, no current laws on the books inclusive of the new ones, would have prevented Sandy Hook...

    September 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Andres

    Bottom line: Colorado cares more about their guns than their children.

    September 11, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. ug

    This just made my day! LOL!

    September 11, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. Smart Guy

    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.

    So he was unwilling to represent the wishes of the people he represented therefore he deserved to be recalled. I hope this sends a message to other politicians who want to trample on our 2nd Amendment rights.

    September 11, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Are you really concerned??

    if everyone is truely, passionately, committed to stopping the death of our children how about this? Imagine if Bloomberg and company used their fortunes and all the gun control energy was spent on the below statistic and truely save our kids. Want reality, be a first responder and respond to a scene with kids being killed.....they happen everyday!!

    In fact, records from 2009 show around 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15–19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents. In addition more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from crashes. During the same year , 1,314 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 179,000 were injured.

    September 11, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. LARRY

    Obama's sons keep reminding us how important our 2nd amendment rights are.

    September 11, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. me

    The sad part is the gun control efforts really have nothing to do with stopping people from legally owning guns (other than a VERY few), just trying to simply tighten controls to make a decent effort to get them only to those who should have them... but the whiny little crybabies who hide behind the 2nd Amendment can't concede that, and they lack any moral/social compass to even come up with any efforts of their own to curb gun violence... It's safe to assume there are MANY more people killed by gun violence than protected (literally, not in your little pea-brain hypothesis) by a gun each year and it's also safe to assume that anyone who wants to own one legally, can buy one legally yet because we listen to fools, the mob rules. It's time to charge the owner of any gun with the crime that was committed with the gun, even if someone else does it... if you're responsible enough to have one, then you should be responsible enough to NEVER let it be stolen, or otherwise taken... if not, and the gun is stolen and then used in a murder, then you are charged the same as the person who pulls the trigger... similar to a bartender serving drinks to someone who drives and kills another and is charged for serving someone to the point of intoxication... of course, I'm sure I'll hear more crying about how that isn't fair...

    September 11, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Lew

    Am I the only one who can't wait for the 2014 Midterm Elections?:)

    September 11, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. The 1st Amendment is meaningless without the Second Amendment

    This is what happens when elected officials don't listen to the people who put them in office. The American people back handed the Democrats in 2010 for Obamacare and put a stop to their madness. Hopefully the American people have had enough of these attacks on our rights, freedoms and privacy by an out of control government promoted and run by big government Democrats. Big government is not here to help you, it is here to subjegate you.

    September 11, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. dnraley

    I would like to personally thank Senators Morse and Giron for having the courage to stand up for our families. While those of us who would like to see reasonable gun measures put in place are not as vocal as the NRA and their supporters we all must do our part. I hope that the fact that Senators Morse and Giron will go on with their lives and be productive in many ways outside of the Colorado Senate gives encouragement to other elected leaders. In the end until our leaders stop cowering under their desk when the NRA and pro-gun advocates enter the room, our child will have to continue to learn to do so, when gunmen visit their classrooms.

    September 11, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Surf for Sun

    Well good for Colorado. I won't be spending my vacation dollars on their slopes any more. Same is true for Disney in Florida as everyone there is packing heat. As for Texas, well, there is nothing worth visiting in Texas...

    September 11, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Chris24

    @Mo
    Still waiting on one of you to tell me what the words "well regulated" in the 2nd Amendment are supposed to mean.

    I've asked 4x now and all I see is screaming about defending "our rights." Great, let's look at the right in question. The text directly and unambiguously references regulation. So what do those words mean people?
    -----–
    It's open for debate...but many people interpret as 'will of the people'. National Guard wasn't a funded unit of the military until early 1900's....long written before then.

    September 11, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Sanity

    40% of all gun purchases in the U.S. happen without the purchaser showing so much as a library card.

    9 out of 10 Americans and even 3 out of 4 NRA members are for universal background checks.

    Why are Republicans fighting so hard for the rights of criminals and mentally ill people to buy guns?

    September 11, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. PS

    Crazy country with a crazy state called Colorado, where they do not seem to be satisfied with the massacres they have! What can we say?!

    September 11, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Wow, Columbine and Aurora and folks in Colorado are STILL in denial about the effects of easy access to guns ... amazing ...

    September 11, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. zuk

    ALL of my weapons combined have killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.

    September 11, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. Bob

    If someone invented an assault rifle that shoots birth control pills instead of bullets, Republicans would ban assault rifles tomorrow.

    September 11, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. bryan

    thank god these laws will prevent another theater or school shooting....oh wait maybe not.

    September 11, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @The 1st Amendment is meaningless without the Second Amendment:

    “With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases.”

    –Ronald Reagan, speech at George Washington University in a on March 29, 1991.

    September 11, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. jed clampett

    I bet ol' Ted Nugent has some creamy jeans today!

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. c-lo

    Surf for Sun

    Well good for Colorado. I won't be spending my vacation dollars on their slopes any more. Same is true for Disney in Florida as everyone there is packing heat. As for Texas, well, there is nothing worth visiting in Texas...
    __________________________________________
    From the bottom of my heart, or maybe foot...Thank You!!! One less flatlander clogging up the highways and slopes. I hear Mount Massive is a great desti"Nation".

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    @The 1st Amendment is meaningless without the Second Amendment:

    “Well, I think there has to be some (gun) control.”

    –Ronald Reagan, during a question-and-answer session with high-school students on November 14, 1988.

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. c-lo

    Make that Mammoth...

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    @The 1st Amendment is meaningless without the Second Amendment:

    “I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.”

    –Ronald Reagan, in a speech at his 78th birthday celebration in Los Angeles on February 6, 1989.

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. Preston Holod

    One less state to retire to. Just plain idiotic to me.

    September 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45