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. TJ

    @TonyGa: You are so right! Imagine... if that teacher who shielded her students (and died doing so) had a firearm on her... just imagine how many of those children would be sitting at the dinner table tonight with their families... laughing, smiling, joking, kidding, hugging their moms and dads!

    But liberals LIKE dead children (when they're not moIesting them). At least, that's what it seems like.

    September 11, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Grouch

    You notice when CNN don't really want debate the put on this stupid comment format. If they think it's gonna break their way they put up Disqus. CNN doesn't believe in 2nd Amendment rights and they obviously don't care much for the First either, the way they cull comments that don't suit their needs.

    September 11, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. Patrish

    The angry, the violent will always fight to keep their guns. My choice is to live gun free.

    September 11, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  4. Isaac Bickerstaff

    Gun control is not about guns, its about control.

    Liberals love to stand over the bodies of children slaughtered by lunatics and demand control oversociety. They don't even think they look ignorant, crazy or evil when they do it.

    (Only some children's bodies count. There are no lessons to be drawn from the ongoing slaughter in Chicago.)

    September 11, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. Taxed Citizen

    Governor Andrew Cuomo are you listening...

    September 11, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  6. Michael

    Imagine that….Gun Control

    The United States is ranked 3rd in Murders throughout the World.

    But, if you remove just 4 cities from the statistics:

    · Chicago
    · Detroit
    · Washington, DC
    · New Orleans

    The United States is then ranked 4th from the bottom in the entire world for Murders.

    These 4 cities also have the toughest Gun Control Laws in the United States and are
    run by Democrats.

    Imagine that!

    September 11, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. t puschaver

    Why doesn't NY daily news carry this story. I would guess that they are anti-gun and this story doesn't hurt. Hey, Am I right

    September 11, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. Roberto

    I got a huge smile from reading this article.

    September 11, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. wstwood

    why do politicians always choose\to\punnish millions of honest gun owners for the crimes of a few sickos? for every butheaded criminal there are millions who never broke the law. get a grip!

    September 11, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. Countryboy

    This country was founded on GOD &GUNS. You hippies an libs need to grow a pair a stand up for our country.

    September 11, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. You Betcha!

    9 out of 10 Americans, including 3 out of 4 NRA members are FOR universal background checks because it's the sane thing to do.

    So why are Republicans fighting like hell against making it harder for criminals and crazies to buy guns?

    Protecting the 2nd amendment?

    The only thing Republicans are protecting is gun industry profits.

    September 11, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. John Jons

    I look forward to more newtowns. Thank you God.

    September 11, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Reagan

    The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.

    God bless Amerrrrrka!

    September 11, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. simplulo

    Firearms and marijuana freedom? Sounds like Colorado is going libertarian.

    September 11, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. NevisMN

    What drivel! The NRA is responsible for the greatest marking ploy ever. Who gains from their scare tactics? The answer is gun and ammunition manufacturers. Unless the Ted Nugents of the NRA are willing to join a militia all this is bluster. And we all know what Ted would chose- he would load his pants.

    September 11, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. Bush

    A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

    Hurray for guns!

    September 11, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. jim

    Gun ownership is self limiting and Darwin at work. Keep your gun.

    Residents of states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political conservatism are at greater risk of suicide than those in states with less gun ownership and less politically conservative leanings, according to a study by University of California,

    September 11, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  18. jason

    Obama back stabbed the progressives so badly that people are afraid to even vote for the really good ones. In 2014 Obama can claim mission accomplished

    September 11, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. groinksan

    You have to really be a narcissist to spin a loss like this. These two politicians campaigned for week in order to keep their jobs. But, they attempt to spin it as if they don't mind losing their jobs, using language along the line of the sacrifice was more important than the job. Morse said in his speech that the people are in charge, and not the politician. Well, if he really believed that, he wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. Which just goes to show that there is no politician in this country who vote the way the people want him to vote. And, the voters have to take much of the blame because they're perfectly find with the status quo – politicians voting for anything but the people, such as ideology, money, party allegiance, etc.

    September 11, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  20. PDXSerric

    Well, once again the gun lobbyists and NRA have successfully held America hostage. Long live the reign of ignorance through greed and manipulation!!

    When law-abiding gun owners realize that regulation doesn't infringe upon their rights but actually helps to secure them THEN we'll talk. I won't hold my breath tho...

    September 11, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Ceswho

    The Constitution says American citizens have the"RIGHT to keep and bear arms and that right shall not be infringed".
    If legislators want to keep their job (power they lust for) then they should uphold the Constitution like they have sworn to do. If they do not then recall them and let them look for a real job. Good job Colorado citizens.

    September 11, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. KWeb

    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.
    What criminal gets a back ground check and buys a gun legally THEN goes about committing a crime with a gun registered to him/her??? Bloomberg is no idiot. He is hiding a different agenda by making statements like this. What is his actual agenda and whom else is he allied with? I don't know, but making the money he has with the educational background he has, I have to assume that he can not actually believe the statement he made. Either way you look at it, he is not a supporter of our Constitution and actively campaigns against the 2nd Amendment. If the people(LAW ABIDING CITIZENS) of our country can not protect themselves, families and our rights then how can we ensure the government of the people, for the people is going to do the right thing???

    September 11, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. CommonSense101a

    Message to Bloomberg, Obama, Biden, and Feinstein: Colorado is not for sale. You can buy Syria though if you send the rebels enough FULL automatic assault rifles. After all, to liberals the Syrian rebels are to be trusted with our military grades weapons which we have shipped them for free, but American citizens can not be trusted with civilian-grade firearms.

    September 11, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  24. VoteForPedro

    How does eliminating fully automatic "machine" guns, and limit bullet extended magazines....how does this commonsense minimal legislation, violate your 2nd Amendment right? Nobody is coming to take your guns, you paranoid fools.

    September 11, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. Not A Gun Owner

    Martha

    Shameful result, but it has prompted me to give more money to Mark Kelley's & Gabby Gifford's Americans For Responsibile Solutions. The gun lobby must not be allowed to buy elections!
    ---------------------------------
    Let's see, who tried to buy the election? How about two out of state democrats that contributed more than the whole recall effort. Seems to me the democrats tried to buy the election and couldn't. That should send a clear message that this is what the people of Colorado wanted. Go ahead and give the money to Gabby Giffords, whose husband tried to buy an assault weapon. No hypocrisy there. Liberals hate it when they're on the short end of the stick. Instead of conceding that this what the people want, they go on a voter fraud rant. Sore losers!

    September 11, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
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