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. Quark Hadron

    Neither major party will acknowledge that regular people did this. People registered as Democrat, Republican and independent voted to recall these two state senators. Neither party wants you to believe they can be successfully challenged. They are happy to have you fighting between the 'sides' and not realize the two extremes are impossible – no chance for compromise and the rational, reasonable people 'in the middle' are left unrepresented.

    As the reporting on the recalls goes national, you can expect the two parties will continue to try very hard to usurp the success and say it was all about guns and Democrat vs Republican. Pay attention and do not be fooled.

    The Democrats tried very, very hard to frame the issue as only 'guns' and Democrat vs. Republican, but that isn't true. The Republican Party was very careful to steer clear of the 'recall' issue. They halfheartedly backed the Republican on the replacement ballot – but were careful to avoid endorsing the recall.

    It was also about the arrogance of elected 'representatives.' It was about sloppy, poorly written laws because they had enough majority they could pass anything they wanted. They got lazy and arrogant.

    It was about regular people standing up to that arrogance.

    One of the most important messages from this recall is that BOTH parties are put on notice. Meaningless rhetoric, lies, and the presumption that everyone is too stupid to see what they are up to will not be tolerated. They can no longer rely solely on the passive acceptance of party as religion and fanatical faithfulness – too many people are wising up for that to continue working. We are tired of the two party playground mentality of only two 'sides' – where there is no possibility of compromise. We are tired of only the extremes being represented and are increasingly starting to demand representation for the moderate, rational people 'in the middle' – where compromise is possible.

    Those people registered as 'Democrat' or 'Republican' might take a moment and consider whether they really are 'Democrat,' 'Republican' or more free thinking. Whether they mindlessly support whatever agenda is put forth, whether they fit with the fanatical, 'representative as celebrity' mindset or whether they are perhaps actually 'independent' and want to change their registration to reflect their independent thinking. Both parties would like you to believe there are only two 'sides,' but this is not about a game of grade-school kickball.

    The independents were the deciding factor in the recalls – BOTH parties take heed. People are starting to wake up and start thinking for themselves.

    September 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. alexthegreat

    Ok folks, guns don't kill people, people kil people. An deranged person will get a gun reguardlees of any law on the books.

    September 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. motoxdoc

    I would be embarrassed if I was a republican.....I think that's why all my republican friends now say they are independant. However, they are still so uninformed and clueless that they can't even get out of their own way and they continue to vote republican. At least some of them are afraid to admit it, but many others are proud of their ignorance!

    September 11, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Mark from Middle River

    Thank You Colorado. Also, a big ... "you lost, move on" to all the anti-gun rights fanatic Dems as an echo right back at you.

    September 11, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Sanity

    Colorado, where Republicans fight like hell to make sure that people they don't like can't get a marriage license.

    But they couldn't care less who buys an assault rifle and high capacity ammo clips.

    September 11, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. QS

    Based on the frenzied and fanatical, truly borderline sociopathic responses from those celebrating this, I have to say with all sincerity that I fear not only for my country because of these people, but also for my species.

    As much as I once honestly believed we could remain the United States, I am now beginning to realize that the ideological differences are too great to be bridged and that there is no middle or common ground to be found with paranoid xenophobes who think so illogically that they believe more guns makes for a safer society.

    I have never made a secret of my anti-conservatism; but conservatives seem so intent on the destruction of anything resembling a civil society that I can no longer stand by and watch this ideology turn this country into a free-for-all that will leave it as nothing more than a shadow of its former self.

    For all the bluster about how this is all about rights, mark my words – this country will never recover if conservatives are allowed to control any part of it.

    September 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. waitaminute

    Indeed. Does any politician want to step up and slam some anti-second amendment legislation down the citizens' throats?

    September 11, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Bye-bye

    Good-bye and good riddance, Colorado Democrats that "used" the system. There really is not much difference between this and Obamacare, it also was rammed down American;s throats with little or no respect for the voters. Obmacare will also follow a similar fate – and get repealed eventually.

    September 11, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Leonard

    To RudyNYC

    Your obviously not from Chicago, there isn't enough room on this forum to list the endless list of licenses, taxes,
    permits, restrictions, etc.,etc, still in place in Chicago,and they are continuing to enact more. Do your homework before you call me out, I live it.

    September 11, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine


    At least 40% of all gun sales in the U.S. happen without the purchaser showing so much as a library card.

    Why are Republicans fighting so hard to defend the right of criminals and lunatics to buy guns?
    Because adhering to an extreme, absolute opinion means more to them than doing the heavy lifting of deciding who has truly earned the right to bear arms. They fight it so hard because all the thinking Republicans, the ones who actually look at a situation and see all the nuances, have been expelled from the party for daring to think. Anyone who thinks the GOP and the NRA really give a damn about your safety and well-being are all dreaming: all they care about are donations and power.

    September 11, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Leading from Behind Putin

    God & Country
    An average of eight children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day.

    Lock up all the black gang members in Chicago and this will drop to one a day. If you were truly serious about saving the lives of children, you would do this.

    September 11, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Bill

    9 out of 10 Americans are for UBC? NOT TRUE. Where did you dig up these lies? Everyone I've met is against them. You're citing a biased poll. Polls cannot be trusted. Those numbers might be true in NY and California, but for the other 48 states it's not true by a long shot. Stop bloating your numbers. Stop lying.

    September 11, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. *

    karl from az

    GOOD! Teachers in Israel carry guns. There hasn’t been a school shooting since 1974: ‘nuff said’!


    You really need to read up on gun laws in Israel. It is illegal to own any kind of firearm without a license. To own a gun you must be a citizen for three years, with no criminal record, be in good health (mental and physical) and renew the license ever three years. Israeli teachers are not armed except in dangerous areas. Gun ownership in Israel is considered a privilege. not a right. They also regulate how many guns a person can own and how much ammunition can be purchased. Still want to hold them up as a shining example? Israel's anti terror measures have prevented incidents at schools which have been carried out by trained terrorists. Gun laws pertaining to individuals have been tightened, not relaxed. nuff said.

    September 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Fred

    Every day, 50 American children are shot.

    Hurray for guns!

    September 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Bob

    And gun-nut craziness trumps sanity. Again.

    September 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Melvin

    Every day 282 Americans are shot.

    September 11, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. G

    looks like the criminals and drug lords won again

    September 11, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Sickened

    Its really too bad the people of Colorado by and large, seem to not care at all about their own dead.
    You must take a test to drive a car. You get a background check to get most jobs. Yet in order to obtain a firearm designed specifically to kill, there are no real restrictions.
    This country is spineless as well as paranoid, and its ony a matter of time before we have vending machines in every elementary school to buy guns and ammunition.

    September 11, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Tim

    Good riddance. And the kids killed by guns generally are related to gangs in the inner city. It is black/minority on black/minority crime for control of the drug trade. Hope this sends a message to Governor Brown. Stupid laws aimed a law abiding citizens isn't going to reduce gun violence. Going after the malevolent fraction the population that commit 99.99% of gun violence with long prison terms is the only way to solve the problem.

    September 11, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Butangding L.A

    California needs to recall Boxer & Fienstien a.s.a.p.

    September 11, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Reason

    9 out of 10 Americans and even 3 out of 4 NRA members are FOR universal background checks.

    Republicans and the gun lobby are against them.

    Guess who Republicans work for?

    HINT: It's not the American people.

    September 11, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. denim

    It's hillarious. The NRA "tampers" but the liberals "guide". Right.

    September 11, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. J

    The most important thing to remember is Democrats like Bloomberg will always take advantage of tragic events to push their anti-freedom policies on Americans. Don't even let them start down the road of incremental-ism.


    Bloomberg is not a Democrat. He has been an Independent since 2007, and for the 6 years prior to that he was a Republican.

    September 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. frank

    Sanity, NO ONE can buy a gun in the 50 states online UNLESS the buyer supplies the seller with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders, name address phone number and his/herFFL number. The buyer must take delivery from that FFL holder. Other wise there is a law violation. The real problem is off the chart lax enforcement of existing gun laws. If the penalties were mandatory no appealable fines and no appealable prison time for violations, then we would be where we all would want to be.

    September 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Brad

    The hypocrisy of the left is astounding. They're completely comfortable killing 1 million babies each year via abortion but argue that everyone should hand in their guns because some nut offs goes crazy in a school.

    September 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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