September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
10 years 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.

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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. The law

    Good, the people have spoken..

    September 11, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Worm

    Yay....Nah Nah Nah Nah......Hey Hey Hey..........Goodbye....

    September 11, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. DroneAlone

    Nice to see sanity has returned to Colorado. This was sure hard to find on the CNN site...

    September 11, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. John Richard

    Perfect example of why we will never have reasonable controls when it come to guns in this country – because of the power of the NRA. It's no wonder politicians are scared to death to speak out on gun control issues. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the death toll continues to rise as we are awash in firearms. Really, limiting the number of rounds in a magazine and requiring background checks are an assault on our "second amendment" rights? Change is NOT on the horizon; we can expect more mental patients armed to the teeth with ever increasing weaponry to do as they please in the years to come.

    September 11, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Steve

    Well Bloomturd you lost again, are you getting the big picture yet? We don't want more gun control or any of your stupid restrictions on firearms or their owners. Please move to California and have some frankenmonsters with Senator Frankenstein.

    September 11, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. DC Johnny

    We can't continue to bury our children?

    Perfect rhetoric from a liberal who draws imaginary lines in the sand. So anyone against gun control is now in favor of burying children, is that about right? Despite all historic and empirical evidence proving that gun control efforts would have no effect on these random acts of violence by criminals and the insane?

    Wake up, America.

    September 11, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Ron

    We have no party loyalty when it comes to attempting gun control. There are well over 40 million Democrat gun owners and we will vote out anyone who attempts any form of gun control. Clinton lost both the House and Senate in one election due to his gun control attempts, and gun ownership is twice as popular now. This is only the beginning, next year we are cleaning out the rest of them.

    September 11, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Michael

    Maybe now Colorado can pass gun laws that allow blind people to own and use registered firearms.

    September 11, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. djc60

    One word.......Awesome!! Every last one of them, Dems and RINO Republicans, along with the likes of Obama nationwide need to look at what just happened in Colorado. Yes,it's small, but it sends a huge message.

    September 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. stagger72

    Power Rangers T-shirts?

    September 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Hicock45

    My sincere thanks to the people of Colorado, you did not turn into one of the sissy states like New York or Kalifornia. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! You showed those grabbers that unlike them, you protect the constitution of the United States.

    September 11, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. DBC

    "Giron also said she was "proud" that she voted for the gun laws."

    She didn't learn anything did she?

    September 11, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. YouAreStupid

    "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."

    OH THE HORROR. I feel so badly for the gun-nuts (eye roll).

    September 11, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Dylan

    I'm a registered Democrat, and even I can see the political suicide that can come from taking away peoples guns. Give the government an inch and they will take a yard.

    September 11, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. mfh

    Taking America back one vote at a time.

    September 11, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. TheThinker

    The people have spoken.

    As far as anyone who thinks that banning a specific model of rifle will end the horror, this is just a feel-good notion that is ultimately futile; a badguy can do great harm with a shotgun, pistol, or chemicals.
    As far as anyone who naively thinks an anti-gun law should be passed even if it violates the Constitution, you are playing with real fire. Ten years ago evil was visited upon this country by some blasphemers who wanted to make America suffer. They did not fire a single shot.
    The government jumped on the opportunity to encroach on American's rights. Now for the first time American voters have pushed back. Good for them!

    September 11, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Bill Sanford

    This is a clear victory for the common man... Thanks to the people of the Colorado Districts that stood up to Big, oppressive, government.

    September 11, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. Alpha Deus

    And they say this group is just a group..they are the biggest threat America has to domestic terrorism

    September 11, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Continue to force your beliefs down the throats of "The People" and we will vote you out of office.

    September 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. John

    A victory for the Constitution! The founding fathers would be proud.

    September 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Steve Lyons

    Now if can begin the process of repealing the 14th Amendment to eliminate the FEDERAL ability to tax individuals. After reviewing it, the 14th Amendment did NOT eliminate slavery, but rather enslaved everyone to the federal government. It is improperly taught in schools. CNN, please research and educate the public on this issue.

    September 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. JoshO

    Freedom loving Coloradans are dancing a jig today. The gun control measures were very unpopular and these politicians ignored the will of the people and did instead what they were instructed to do by Washington and the tiny Napoleon in charge of NYC. They deserved to lose their jobs and I couldn't be happier that they did.

    September 11, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  23. Jerry

    The elected officials in the federal government should all take note of this.

    September 11, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. Steve Lyons

    That only got the officials out of office. The law still stands. Now get the law repealed.

    September 11, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  25. Colorado Voter

    Truly Sorry Mr. Morse: A lot of craziness comes out of the Springs. Gun lobbyists talk about knee jerk reactions. If only they would look in the mirror. So much for trying to do something about the pressing issues we face today. The gun lobby wants to put gun gaurds in the schools. These are the same people who would fight tooth and nail to pay for any school ventures to help our kids. Go figure. God Speed.

    September 11, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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