September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
9 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. wendel

    sad sad day every day I see child gun deaths in the news by gun owners who can't keep their fire arms away from children. So many of these gun owners have no clue how to handle a gun. Why aren't they held to stricter rules. You have to have a license to drive a car.? How many go out for a day of hunting and drinking???.

    September 11, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Maria Delaluz

    All I can say is: "YEA"!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 11, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. JBCooper

    Hahaha. And civil rights win again!

    September 11, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. James

    Try to take away the rights of the people to own guns in Colorado, and get recalled. Succeed in taking power away from the people in Wisconsin, and survive the recall effort. Maybe people in Wisconsin need to start arming themselves to defend their rights from the Republican Fascistic, Scott Walker.

    September 11, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. guest

    ep tor: perhaps you should put a sign in your front yard declaring your home a gun free zone.

    September 11, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. joe

    why cant this happen in Maryland?

    September 11, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Bud W

    The Constitution matters, you should not punish law abiding citizens because of some nuts,crazies, deranged folks do horrible acts.

    September 11, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Rucker61

    Morse and Giron were ousted for pushing through internally inconsistent, unenforceable and ineffective laws in a travesty of the democratic process while deliberately ignoring their constituents. Those for the new gun laws keep bringing up the tragic mass killings of Sandy Hook and Aurora as bases for new laws, yet none of the new laws passed in a matter of days without study and with opposition from those who would actually have to enforce them would do anything to prevent similar mass shootings.

    September 11, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. mike

    Duly elected legislators should not be dictated to by those they represent.

    September 11, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. vbscript2

    It's too bad that we don't have a way to recall people at the federal level when they violate our Constitutional rights.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. MarcReiss

    I'm not surprised by this at all, Colorado is just Texas with snow.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Miguel

    Democrats will never learn. As long as we have thugs roaming the streets gun control is not going to happen, because the thugs will certainly not abide by the law.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Jake Remark

    Bet if the Newton massacre had occurred in Colorado Springs a recall would have never been considered. I hope this town does not one day have a reason to regret such actions.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. Ray

    The only positive thing about this is that it shows people don't have to believe in all of one party or another's idealology. Colorado loves their weed AND their guns. You can disagree but at least they are smart enough to pick and choose their stance on each topic and not blindly follow one party or the other. Nobody agrees with everything their spouse says but apparently they think they can agree with everything an entire mass says.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. VoteForPedro

    This is quite an amazing ignorant thing to occur. After Columbine and Aurora? This happens? I would have thought people in Colo would be smarter. Guess not.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. rob

    The NRA, the Republicans, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, should get a little of their own shooting medicine instead of innocent people all the time. And if Rethuglicans keep trying to illegally seize power, they're going to get a violent wake up call.

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Swedge70

    That'll teach you to enact reasonable laws!

    September 11, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Bella

    I support the right to bear arms, and I enjoy shooting trap and skeet. However, I don't support just anyone having them, look at Columbine, or the Elementary school shootings....I'd like to think that even the NRA can see that there is nothing wrong with having stricter controls on who gets to hold these lethal weapons. in the wrong hands, innocent people can die.

    September 11, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |

    To "Reasonablebe:
    Re your quote "either of these legislators committed a crime or other repugnant act of indecency or immorality." – WRONG !
    A public servant is NOT voted in to follow his conscience. He is voted in to implement the will of the majority of his constituents. The MOMENT he uses his vote to further HIS agenda, against the will of those constituents, he has acted "repungnantly" and "immorally".

    September 11, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Steve

    The laws that were passed woul dnever have stopped the gnu violence that they were aimed at stopping. Lawmakers are more interested in doing "something" to make it look as if they are working on decreasing Gun violence. More times than not, doing "something" does not address the real issue. The innocent CITIZENS of the US need to quit being punished by restricting their rights for the actions of the guilty. Typical mindset of the far left – If I do not like what you value, I will take it ways from you, Where as the right's mindset is, I I do not like what you value, I just won't have it. One is freedom and the other is "rule by the king"

    September 11, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. iamthefredman

    Democracy still works. You were elected to represent your constituents NOT YOUR OWN AGENDA. Good riddance to bad politicians.

    September 11, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Bud W

    Constitution matters, you do not punish law abiding people because of nuts,crazies,freaks.

    September 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Rick

    BRAVO CO! Keep reminding these idiots that they work for us. They are to do as we wish not what Washington wishes. Great job to the citizens of Co. for showing these nitwits that we the people are in charge and we will boot your ass out if you do not do as we wish.

    September 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. keltic1

    "Go tell the Spartans." Time to save the republic.

    September 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. Old Gringo

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. "

    Where does this say that the government can't track who owns guns or put limits on magazine capacity? Neither of those issues infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. In fact, it say a well regulated militia. Meaning people with proper training, not mouth breathers who act the victim when they walk into a store with an AK strapped to them, ignoring the sign in the window that says no weapons.

    September 11, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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