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. pablo

    "According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%"
    Hmm these politicians voted against the majority of their represented population and got recalled... what a novel concept!

    September 11, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Jdalco

    Despite being out spent 7 to 1 the pro rights pro gun folks won. .. Bloomberg and all his money was stopped. this is a great start at taking back our country. We need to put a few more pols out of work for voting against our rights and maybe the rest will wake up to who works for whom .. .

    September 11, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. noone


    Do we really have to shoot them? Couldn't we just put them on a reservation somewhere (California maybe) where they can ban guns all they like as long as they leave the rest of us the hell alone?

    September 11, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. "Elitist" Not

    Can't fathom how people with common sense can coexist with close minded irrationals in this place. In any case, sad to note irrational ideology trumps reason and common sense! To the two elected officials who were just unseated..great job!

    September 11, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. just saying

    I guess those Colorado folks just can't get enough Columbime

    yup... to liberal left wing democrats, they see a law abiding gun owning citizen as just another mental patient waiting to explode and they only way to save them is to take their gun away.

    September 11, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Otremer

    Those so worried about weapons falling into the 'wrong' hands should first disarm the government. Besides 'Fast and Furious' Eric's arming of the drug cartels and Obama's arming of terrorists, the government at all levels from all agencies just plain loses more weapons of all types than any other entity in the nation. We're not just talking machine guns and assault rifles here. They still haven't found that thermonuclear bomb they lost off the coast of Georgia in 1958.

    September 11, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. "Elitist" Not

    Can't fathom how people with common sense can coexist with close minded irrationals in this place. In any case, sad to note irrational ideology trumps reason and common sense! To the two elected officials who just were unseated..great job!

    September 11, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. MG

    These so called patriots should be ashamed of themselves. No one is taking your guns away. Common sense should tell you that additional restrictions are needed. If you are such a law abiding gun owner, then you should not be concerned about going through a simple background check to buy a gun. I'm embarrassed today to be living in CO.

    September 11, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Jay in Maryland

    Good for Colorado, I wish we could give some people here in Maryland the boot.

    September 11, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    The interesting thing is the fact that all of the gun grabbers are still shouting about the NRA when it was clear that the majority of the people spoke on this. It is interesting to see the same ineffectual arguments pop up repeatedly in clear instances of them not applying.

    Oh, and before we start with the "gun-toting conservitard" rhetoric, keep in mind that the gun debate is not (or should not be) a partisan issue. You would think the social freedom-loving left would also be all for individual liberty up to and including the ownership of firearms, not just the right wing. I guess nobody is an actual liberal anymore, just statists.

    September 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Jim

    Congratulations to CO citizens for punishing those responsible for assaulting citizen's civil rights. Repealing the unConstitutional laws and rolling out the recount or other punitive processes should be the next step. Also, if we are interested in maintaining our rights, then we simply can't elect those hostile to them.

    September 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. toyo

    elections/recalls hace consecuentes...

    September 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. tom

    The moral of this story is that both parties need to start paying a lot more attention to the Independent voters. Getting the support of those in your party is a no-brainer. However the Independents determine elections and they are not in lock step with either party's agenda. I'm sure the Independents also swung the vote on legalizing marijuana and probably could care less about gay marriage, take note GOP. And the Democrats should now realize that they won't have the final say on gun control, not in CO or the rest of this country..

    September 11, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. noone


    But if those big scary, what are they...high capacity assault clips, were illegal; then the Sandy Hook shooter wouldn't possibly have been able to get them and maybe wouldn't have killed as many precious babies! He couldn't have just made as many as he liked in his own basement, or just printed them out all day long on his 3d printer. Nope, because they'd be illegal. And when things are illegal people just can't get them. I mean, look at marijuana. it's illegal an absolutely no one can get that stuff anywhere! Right?

    September 11, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. minzwa

    what images of 6 and 7 year olds in power ranger shirts? Somebody show me one photo or one piece of video showing and stretchers, bodies, or anything like it. He is a lying moron, and it's a very good thing he was ousted.

    September 11, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Wall Wolf

    After the next big Colorado shoot-out and murders, and you know there will be others, there better be no crying and complaining from this state's citizens. They just voted against their right to complain.

    September 11, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. COFan

    Colorado Constitution

    “The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question..." Article II, Section 13.

    End Of Discussion!

    September 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. rubes

    Nice to see politicians removed for thinking they know what is best and thinking they know what the majority wants. Can we do this at the Fed level?

    September 11, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Dorkus Maximus

    So this is what a country in decline looks like.

    September 11, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. c-lo

    zivo24 wrote:

    "As a Colorado native and resident, I've very disgusted today.

    Lies and propaganda have won over truth and facts.

    Two Colorado senators lost their seats in a recall election because of their support of common sense legislation to close loopholes in background checks for gun sales and limit sales on the types of weapons and ammunition that were used to massacre almost 100 people in an Aurora movie theater, leaving 12 of them dead and more than 70 others with injuries and permanent disabilities.

    We've listened for months as the recall supporters screamed that the legislation is "unconstitutional". Really? Then why did they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to target two of the dozens of legislators who voted for the bills instead of challenging the constitutionality of legislation in court?

    Why? Because they're not unconstitutional. No one's right to keep and bear arms was infringed. You can still buy and own a firearm. But the government maintains the right to regulate what types of weapons we can possess. It's called the National Firearms Act. It was first passed in 1934 and amended in 1968. It's the reason you can't legally own a sub-machine gun, a sawed off shot-gun, hand grenades, missiles or chemical weapons among other things.

    James Holmes had a documented history of seeking and receiving treatment for mental health issues yet he was able to buy multiple assault type weapons in local stores in a span of a few days as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition and body armor online without setting off any alarms.

    It's disturbing to me that we have more preventative measures in place to track purchases of cold medicine with pseudoephedrine than we do weapons that can be used to commit a massacre."

    It's apparent from your post that you are the one who bought into lies/propaganda, or are hellbent on spreading them...

    One of the reasons these two, PARTICULARLY Morse, as Senate Pres were ousted was not simply because of their votes on these measures, but because they were not representing their constituents...and the "debate" during the proposal of these laws was so muffled, Morse was rightly called to the table. Bloomberg's interstate intrusions may have worked for the legislative vote, but it is now obvious that ALL of these clowns who vote party lines and not representative lines are on notice...and this goes for BOTH parties. These people hold the title REPRESENTATIVE of their district. WE THE PEOPLE are sick of not being REPRESENTED.

    If this was solely about the vote, there would have been many others targeted for recall, and Giron would definately not been on the top of the list, given the makeup of her district.

    So please stop spouting the lies and Propaganda you have bought into, and learn to think critically about the issue!

    September 11, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. mike

    The sooner we disarm the NRA, the sooner we’ll have gun crime stats in the USA more in line with European gun crime stats, which are about 20 times lower than the USA. We must, and we will, do everything humanly possible to disarm the NRA!!!!

    September 11, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. Carlos

    Maybe this will remind politicians they were elected to represent the voters and not to push their own agenda.

    They apparently need to be reminded that they are elected to represent the people. And a recall to toss them out when they decide that they are rulers of the people instead of servants of the people is a proper way to handle any disputes.

    September 11, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You can't make these people up....

    September 11, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Zoroaster

    What a bunch of stooges. This country is going right down the tubes – have fun losing with your toys kiddo's don't worry about adult issues like the rest of us.

    September 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC


    The problem that I have with these proposed Colorado gun laws is it opens the flood gates for more guns laws down the road. Once it starts it's hard to turn off and never ends. See NY, NJ, Mass as examples.
    Where'd you hear that? Did you know that most murders per capita occur mostly in the so called red states? Did you know that most of the illegally purchased weapons used in criminal acts in NYC can be traced to a state wtih far less restrictive gun laws, Virginia? Ditto for NJ and MA.

    So you see the problem that I have with these states that have far less restrictive gun laws is that it opens the flood gates for people who should not have them to obtain them, be it illegally or legally.

    September 11, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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