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. Huh?

    For a ignorant group with a very warped sense of perspective their gun rights outweigh everything else and everyone else's rights. NOTHING matters to them except the "right" to kill and empower others to do so too. That and the NRA's ability to make money from their warped morals and ethics.

    September 11, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. KrjMc

    This whole thing is a joke paid for by the NRA who seem to have no conscious when it comes to victims. Colorado has had two major mass shootings and all they can focus on is the right to bear arms, which has been skewed from it's original meaning of a "well regulated state militia". How about the rights of people to send their children to school and have them return alive at the end of the day or the rights of people to see a movie without carnage taking place in the theater. In both incidents those guns were purchased legally by law abiding adults.
    NO LAWS WERE PASSED HERE THAT SAID YOU CANNOT OWN A GUN. The legislation was to limit magazine size and there is no reason at all that someone needs a 50 round clip, only that they want to, just because.
    I will be boycotting both cities and counties and will not be spending so much as a penny in either. After this I hope the next mass shooting happens in their schools or their theaters and trust me there will be another. I guess when it happens to them they will finally get it, but by the time they realize it – it will be too late just like it was up here.

    September 11, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. John Smyth


    Get rid of them all.

    September 11, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC


    For those that say it is just a handful of voters in tw districts, I ask then why did the anti gun lobby bring in so much fire power from out of state to persuade this handful of voters to vote their way?
    Uh. Because the NRA and special interests we already there tampering with the electorate, trying to organize a recall election?

    September 11, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. Bob

    Republicans had a recall because Dems supported universal background checks that make it harder for criminals and lunatics from buying guns?

    9 in 10 Americans and 3 in 4 NRA members are for universal background checks.

    How out of touch with reality can Republicans be?

    September 11, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Uniquitous

    Thank you Colorado for correcting a bad situation. The job is only half done. The new recruits will have to overturn that the ousted reps put in place. Keep at it.

    September 11, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. john

    I am glad they got the boot. We shouldn't make laws that negatively impact so many people just to make victims' families feel a little better.

    September 11, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Bryan

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    September 11, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. John Farmer

    I find all this pro-/anti-gun talk interesting. Imagine a society as advanced as the US needing guns in every household, and any changes to control something in that country makes every yell out "Freedom!"

    But then again, I guess there are other countries that would like to have guns in every household for protection – Iraq, Afganistan, Syria, Somalia, Mexico...

    September 11, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Freedom

    Unless you are a criminal or have a serious mental illness, why would you be against universal background checks?

    September 11, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC


    TO Rosma41

    I'm from Chicago, the gun control laws that are in place here make Co. look like you don't have even one.
    Decades of corrupt politicians enacting more and more gun control on law abiding citizens. The result,
    Chicago....the murder capitol of the country,and it's citizens are virtually some homework
    on gun control and violent crime.
    If you actually lived in Chicago and were genuinely concerned about gun laws, then you would know that is entirely false. Chicago's restrictive law banning handguns within the city was overturned a few years ago. Handgun crime has since increased dramatically.

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    September 11, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Chris24

    @Rudy NYC, the problem with states like NY, NJ, Mass is it's loaded with people who believe only the police and government need guns for protection. I don't have a problem with background checks. However, the problem that I do have is politicians thinking they can solve all problems with new laws (Mass proposed laws: mandatory security systems on homes with guns, mandatory gun insurance. NY law: 7 rounds only in a 10 round magazine). Criminals don't respect guns laws no matter where you live! You can pass all kinds of laws but it would only create an underground market. Guns are not going away. Just the way it is.

    September 11, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Anthony

    You're FIRED...Now go sit in the corner and color

    September 11, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. RWB1956

    I can hear Oprah now: "You get a gun and you get a gun and..."

    September 11, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Bob Head

    Huh opined:

    "For a ignorant group with a very warped sense of perspective their gun rights outweigh everything else and everyone else's rights. NOTHING matters to them except the "right" to kill and empower others to do so too. That and the NRA's ability to make money from their warped morals and ethics"
    How nice to know we have you to guide us. We being the ignorant group. I'm a Democrat. Turkeys like you make me laugh. Your intelligence is quite limited. You need Schumer or Cuomo to guide YOU little boy.

    September 11, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. OK

    Proud NRA Member
    So you willingly turn over your information to an organization that has been compiling an even larger database of gun owners and those with interests in firearms than the government could ever hope to complile? An organization that has been quietly doing exactly what it is warning everyone about. Slightly hypocritical, not to mention, we have all seen how secure some of this so called private information really is.

    September 11, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. asdrel

    I just don't understand the opposition to Colorodo's new law. It doesn't take away guns from any law-abiding person. It just makes it necessary to reload more often and closes the gun show loophole for background checks. What is wrong with that? I don't buy the weary argument that such laws will inevitably lead to other laws taking guns away; such proposals can be rejected on thier own merits (or lack thereof).

    September 11, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Amerrrca!

    Why are Republicans fighting for the rights of violent criminals and mentally ill people to buy guns?

    Is the Republican party owned by the gun manufacturers?

    September 11, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. GunsForEveryone!

    I think as a victory celebration, these new republican'ts should introduce legislation providing free guns to school children and movie theater patrons with 2 boxes of free ammunition when you join the NRA too! You know, since universal background checks and limiting ammunition capacity to an amount that doesn't impede your ability to shoot targets on the range or defend yourself against a violent attack is obviously a violation of our basic human rights.

    September 11, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. Amerrrca!

    On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.

    September 11, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. John the Baptist

    Every day on average, 51 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 45 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.

    September 11, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Scotty

    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.

    September 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. mrkhrrs

    Colorado took out the trash.

    September 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC


    Unless you are a criminal or have a serious mental illness, why would you be against universal background checks?
    Because many of these so called "law abiding citizens" wouldn't pass the background checks because of incidients of domestic violence and DUIs, among other things.

    September 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. God & Country

    Although guns can and have been used successfully in self-defense in the home, 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.

    September 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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