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. ThinkAgain

    @The 1st Amendment is meaningless without the Second Amendment:

    “This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety ... While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.”

    –Ronald Reagan, in a May 3, 1994 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, which was also signed by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

    September 11, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. neighborlee

    I can't believe how the 'citizen's of Colorado are acting. THank GOD I don't live there if that is how that state settles its affairs. To think someone who legally owns a gun would run like a frightened kid when stronger gun 'laws' are put in place TO PROTECT the innocent who die at the hand of a gun, to me is just absolutely sickening and COWARDLY. You have no soul if you put your prescious prescious GUNS ahead of the lives of innocent people and kids, when a simple background check would help keep us all safer. Makes me think many of you have a lot to hide, so shame shame and shame again on you!

    September 11, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Juanito

    I'm a conservative gun owner, and also a father of 4, and I oppose large capacity mags and I support nationwide background checks on all firearms.

    I've heard and considered just about every argument from every position, and considered all the implications, both policital and otherwise, and I can't think of any good reason why a person can just walk in from the street and buy a mini14, a hundred rounds of .223 ammo, 5 30 round mags and just walk out into the public armed to the teeth, without so much as a screening.

    CNN headlines are filled with horror stories of some whack job that has either gone postal, or about to go, and its just too freaking crazy now to arm the crazies anymore.

    I'm not taking about gun abolition(which many pro gunners fear), I'm talking about some using the same common sense we must use when going for drivers licenses today. Take a class, practice common safe safty and take a test.

    Cars aren't made or used to deliberately kill. Guns are.

    Remember this when we tuck in and kiss our children goodnight tonight.

    September 11, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. MoreGuns

    This is great news. I hope the freedom loving patriots keep pushing for more 2nd amendment freedoms. I happen to believe the 2nd amendment gives the people the right to own ANY "arms", including, and I know I will be laughed at for saying this, nuclear weapons, if a person can afford them That is TOTAL FREEDOM.

    September 11, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Jim

    And the gun wackos gain a victory.

    September 11, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. NedTaggart


    Fedrally, the Militia Act of 1903 defines as consisting of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia.Former members of the armed forces are also considered part of the "unorganized militia"

    States may also have various definitions.

    That being said, By this text:

    "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."

    It can be said that the well regulated militia is a result of this right, not the reason for this right.

    September 11, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Leonard

    To Chris24

    You must have been under a rock a few years ago when the interpretation of the 2nd amendment went to the supreme court and was ruled on. Do a little homework.

    September 11, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Quick question: Without universal background checks on weapons purchases, how can you tell the good guys from the bad guys?


    September 11, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Jim

    @ ThinkAgain.
    I will add remarks by Former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Warren Burger:
    "The Gun Lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

    And former President George Bush:
    "I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

    However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

    You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, George Bush"

    September 11, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. QuidEstVeritas

    "Bottom line: Colorado cares more about their guns than their children."


    Bottom line: Colorado cares more about their families personal safety than the hyperbole of liberals.

    September 11, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. irunner

    After Columbine, I moved from Littleton to Sacramento. Yep, California. Sounds like not much has changed in CO since then. If I was the folks in Boulder, I'd build a really high wall to keep the right wingers out!

    September 11, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Jody

    For you idiots who think Coloradans love guns more that we love our kids, YOU ARE JUST PLAIN IDIOTS, none of the laws passed would have stopped the Phsyco who had an illegally owned weapon from killing our kids in either Sandy Hook, or Aurora. Look at the facts, which you apparently can't understand and you will see that a criminal had an illegal gun, and had a mental problem. Why don't you pass laws that will take guns away from criminals and not law abiding citizens. All of the "MASS Murders" in the last 20 years would have happened even with your stupid laws on the book as the guns were not purchased they were stolen, they shot up people in a gun free zone and they had untreated menatl illnesses, FIX THAT and you will stop this. Thank GOD the idiots were voted out.

    September 11, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. tom


    That was a bizarre statement but then Ronald Reagan had full blown Alzheimers by 1991.

    September 11, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. sheshie

    Good for Colorado!! Many more to come!

    September 11, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Insane people are the problem and this country has too many

    I am bathing in an olympic size pool of liberal and Democrat tears because the American people have finally awakened to the danger the liberals and Democrats pose to their rights and freedoms. I am loving every minute of it. Hopefully many more states will wake up and smell the coffee. One can only hope.

    September 11, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. mmmkay


    "According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%"

    Politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people. They went against what the people wanted, so they should have been recalled.

    September 11, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. PK

    Now, let's arm all the new borns in these districts with 22 calibers and all mentally challenged with AR 15s. Then make sure the NRA gets all the data they need to send them mailings asking for donations. After all, the NRA has the massive data base that they are calling illegal and against the second amendment. It doesn't matter if you are a NRA member or not, if you've taken a safety class or purchased a gun they have your information.

    September 11, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. mmmkay

    Politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people. They went against what the people wanted, so they should have been recalled.

    September 11, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. loyalright

    "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".

    Well Scotty, there are now 22 countries you can choose to live if you don't like it here.

    September 11, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC


    @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.
    Who said anything about taking away your guns besides the NRA? You sound like you're paranoid to me, living in fear and terror of someone bashing in your front door. I've got bad news for you. Even in the unlikely event that something like that did happen to you, I can guarantee you a few things.

    One, the intruder will be just as armed as you are, but twice as ready to fire because they'd be in a state of panic. Two, your guns will be out of your immediate reach because a responsible owner locks them up. Three, if you feel that you're up to a shoot out with a panicky intuder, and feel that you can win, be my guest. I'd rather not take a chance on my whole family being shot up, give the fool what he wants, and send him on his merry way.

    September 11, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. denim

    Frank, well, legally that's true. Illegally, well, that's another story. I hope Missouri overturns their governor's veto.

    September 11, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Scott

    Bottom line more back ground checks will not do a thing, if a criminal wants a gun he will get one. The only way to stop gun toting criminals is with gun toting citizens. I have a gun in my house, I carry one on me (with a concealed carry permit) and have one in the car as a backup piece. All are registered and serials numbers are recorded with the local PD.

    September 11, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. rosie

    So the stoners now have guns. Great.

    September 11, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. Grouch

    Now it's time for Colorado to repeal the stupid law put into place. HickupLooper, you might want to wake up.

    September 11, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Silence DoGood

    Warning – sarcasm alert.
    When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Therefore there should be no guns laws.
    When stealing is outlawed, only outlaws will steal. Therefore stealing should be legal.

    September 11, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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