September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
11 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. abbydelabbey

    NRA wins again - lots of money - and spreading lies and fear ....

    September 11, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. Progressive Beast

    Another stellar performance by the NRA, pushing its agenda of increasing gun sales at all costs, even the dead bodies of children. At least there were some politicians and campaign people that stood up to the NRA. If more people get involved there will at least be a two sided campaign instead of letting the NRA roll out their money and PR machine and steamroll anyone who doesn't obey them. Ironic that such a fascist organization wraps itself in an American flag and "freedom."

    September 11, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Nodack

    I kid you not, there is a swat team trying to get a guy two doors down from me right at this moment. Some kind of domestic dispute and the is an injured guy in his house. The Swat team is on the megaphone telling him to come out for over an hour, but no sign from the guy. They announced that it shows on their records that he has weapons and their policy is that they won't come in because of that. This guy is probably dead by now sitting in a pool of his own blood. They would have come in if he didn't own a gun.

    September 11, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  4. Dave

    Well, the nra wins another one. Sad day. maybe after a few more thousand kids get slaughtered they'll come to their senses, But I doubt it.

    September 11, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. Carly

    @TonyGa "women and children" What is this, 1950? Women still need to be protected by big strong men?

    September 11, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. steven

    The blood of any more high school deaths due to shootings is on the hands of the voters and NRA.

    September 11, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Jane33

    Why, why, why do the dems think gun control is important? Dems, please listen to me, you have obvious issues to address and gun control is not one of them. For crying out loud, we have high unemployment with insane stock market growth. How about getting back to the basics on stuff like binding arbitration, consumer rights, privacy, etc.

    Gun control is actually counter to a democratic notion. As the government gets larger and starts organizations like DHS and NSA, the need for personal gun ownership increases. As a democrat I am more concerned about the DHS arming it self against civilian protesters than I am concerned about my fellow citizens owning guns. In fact, right now I want all my fellow dems to own guns.

    September 11, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  8. Name joe

    Responsible gun owners deserve to own guns but there a far too many irresponsible gun owners for the current laws to remain the same.

    September 11, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. What have we become

    This is very sad day for democracy, no one but the NRA and Republicans here won. What these idiots don't seem to realize is the laws did not take away their right to bear arms, but to help limit the kinds of weapons that are out there. Frankly if you can't hit your target with 15 rounds or less you shouldn't own a gun to begin with, you are just putting yourself and your family members in danger. Background checks help keep weapons out of the hands of crazy people. But now It makes sense, those who started this whole recall mess probably wouldn't pass the background checks which is why they pushed for it

    September 11, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. Jim

    Glad to see that there are states that have sense nowadays.
    California is not one of them though.

    September 11, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. John

    "Keep crying and standing on the bodies of dead children liberals. Your tears are delicious."

    This comment left by one of you blood-thirsty, gun-worshipping members of the far right says it all. So fearful are you of stricter efforts to keep guns out of the hands of future mass-murderers, you just foam at the mouth and angrily (soon, violently) scream that everyone should have the right to own a gun. YOU have only yourselves to blame for those bodies of dead children.

    September 11, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. Mr. Glock

    now let this be a lesson to others having any gun grab thoughts..........

    September 11, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. ABarker

    My, my, all the name calling from both sides. Children behave.

    I'm not a gun owner, but if I were, I'd be a little ticked if you tried to take it away from me. Taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens isn't going to solve the problem. Law abiding citizens aren't the ones committing the crimes. If you want to lower gun violence, find a way to remove guns from the NON-law abiding citizens. I'll give you a tip – all the laws in the world aren't going help – the people you are trying stop already ignore them. It's not like they are suddenly going to go "oooh, there's a new law that says I can't own a gun. I guess I'll have to get rid of mine."

    September 11, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Bill

    We're not whimps, we just want options. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Guns will always be here in the US. These sorry excuses for "legislation" are just sad attempts to infringe on our rights. And we are in the majority. You people give too much credit to the NRA. It's the people's will, not just the NRA. This is one of the clearest signs you can get.

    September 11, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    To all those saying "The NRA won again" implying they are some big bully and the only reason the recall was successful: The anti-gun lobby outspent the pro-gun lobby(including the NRA) 12:1. seriously, do some research of your own.

    September 11, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. Tom in Colorado

    Arrogance, if you don't even listen to your constituents, even pretend to listen, just cut the debate off....then plan on getting recalled. I am proud, finally, to live in beautiful Colorado. The gun changes should have been put on the ballot, not just legislators shoving laws down our throats. We also don't take kindly to New York Bloomberg money pouring into the battle, it was easy to see through.....The people have spoken.

    September 11, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  17. rtrauben

    This is sad. I truly love Colorado but .. I wonder however if Colorado voters recognize how foolish
    and indecisive they appear to have cave in to the gun lobby so rapidly after MULTIPLE gun
    tragedies in Colorado theatre and school attacks by folks who abused their opportunities
    to manage their guns responsibly.

    September 11, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. Buddy

    People are tired of having their rights taken away by elitists. Good riddance. May their political careers be over with.

    September 11, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  19. scootfl78

    As bad as my state of Florida is, at least we're not completely crazy like the PEOPLE (not just the politicians, the voting public) of Colorado who consider most important issue to them is allowing kids and criminals to carry around guns.

    September 11, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. B

    No one is taking away regular hand guns or the majority of rifles, shotguns,etc. Who needs 15+ round clips?

    September 11, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  21. Britannia

    Why is there this huge debate over gun control? There is nothing to fear from any regulation for normal, law abiding citizens who wish to own guns. Those who are so rabid about their "rights" re gun owning could thus be described as having something to hide, yes? And what sort of person wants to own a combat type weapon? I suppose these are people who feel the need for a large weapon to make up for physical or mental defects.

    September 11, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  22. Good Grief

    “People are tired of the government taking away their rights: what they own, what they buy, what they say, what they smoke, etc. People desire freedom, and they're starting to vote that way. Good for them!”

    September 11, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. Don

    Drewscriver

    Wait, whats wrong with limiting clips to 15 rounds, and mandatory background checks? People quibble over that?? 15 rounds is enough, and why the hell are people against background checks?? Its a good idea!!>>

    Sound like a plan. We should go further though, in order to exercise your Constitutional right to free speech, you should have to register and pay a fee, have a background check and a two week waiting period before you can say anything? I'll go for restrictions on the 2nd amendment as soon as you agree to limits on the 1st. Do we have a deal. How about paying a fee in order to use your right to a jury trial? How about a fee to not incriminate yourself? We can go on and on.

    September 11, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  24. Kevin Alexander

    Some victory for democracy with a 15% voter turnout rate!

    September 11, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Don

    mark

    Funny how in a mostly democrat district in pueblo Giron lost by over 5,000 votes and at the same time the election was going on there were plenty of out of town cars with out of town plates on them. A local reporter showed how easy it was to fraudulently vote in in this election all he had to do was say he was renting a room in town and that pretty much gave him the right to vote.>>

    But Mark, don't liberals claim that requiring that you prove who you are is racist? How dare question those people's right to vote. Why can I say with a certainty that if they were ILLEGALLY voting against guns, you would have no problem with fraud? And liberal hypocrisy rears its head again. Thanks for your demonstration.

    September 11, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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