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. pat

    Yay,yay,yay, THAT'S GREAT!!! You gun grabbing communists are all on notice!

    September 11, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. denim

    Those who keep saying that 50, or whatever number, children a day are killed by guns in this nation keep doing so w/o citation, just pulling the number out of the air.

    asdrel, sure, the law doesn't remove guns from law abiding citizens. It also makes sure that NON-law-abiding citizens have to reload less often than those who DO obey the law. Your ilk appear to prefer the criminals. The rest of us do not.

    Denim – not a member of the NRA.

    September 11, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Insane people are the problem and this country has too many, they are called liberals

    Attacking the guns and the ammunition is the liberal mentality. It absolves the person of any personal responsibility and penalty. Nothing in the liberal mantra involves holdiung people accountable for their actions or anything they do in their life. It is always the fault of something else.

    September 11, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC


    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.
    Tell another lie and I will call you out again. Chicago's law banning handguns was repealed a few years ago. I've noticed that you didn't deny that, but in fact tried to change the subject to taxes.

    "Nice try, but we gotcha again."

    September 11, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. John

    Good! The Left is so quick to take things away or make a new law. How about enforcing the ones in the books? Or God forbid, let's hold people accountable for their actions and make examples out of them, something that we aren't doing in America. Don't believe me? Look in your local court log at the amount of repeat offender drunk drivers who kill far more people than do guns.

    September 11, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Dave

    Anyone who would be against backround checks for fire arms is nothing short of a fool, or a criminal.

    September 11, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Snarky MacFee

    So. Does this mean it will be legal and affordable to get bullet proof vests? do they make them in child sizes? They keep the stoners and oust the folks who dont want everyone owing automatic weapons that eventually get stolen and used on innocents? Yes, you CAN tell what recreational marijuana use does to folks.

    September 11, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Dave

    You'll shoot your eye out.....morons.

    September 11, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. JohnRJohnson

    Colorado - The home of Columbine and Littleton. These people are idiots.

    September 11, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. SiGiD

    I am gratified to see that the people of Colorado have more sense than their legislators. I am amazed that said legislators, when faced with the clear statement of the majority of their voters, still have the arrogance to say that they were right, and would make the same decisions again. Legislators – you are there at the pleasure of the people, and have to respect their views even if you personally don't agree! You don't get to impose your minority views on the majority, no matter how right you think you are!

    September 11, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. LWJR

    Libs tried a Scott Walker recall, after he saved Wisconsin and trounced the corruption between teacher's union and the democratic party, but failed. LIBS ruining our beautiful country. Out with the slimy activists.

    September 11, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. sly

    What do you expect from a hick state like Colorado where their state hero is Tim Tebow?

    Colorado is where guys get 30 days for rape ... or maybe that was one of their hick neighbors. In Colorado, rape is legal if you have a gun.

    September 11, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. denim

    Dave, anyone who thinks background checks stop criminals is a fool.

    September 11, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. mjd

    how do background checks infringe on second amenment rights? repubs are voting with the criminals sad!!

    September 11, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. BillP

    @Sanity – you wrote "Why are Republicans fighting so hard for the rights of criminals and mentally ill people to buy guns?" I can answer that. It is because Democrats and Republicans have created a system that is so poisonous and revenge-minded that reasonable conversation about any issue is impossible. The middle of America has lost its voice and we are all paying the price for it. We have a government in place in OUR United States that is designed so that when any one party wins an election, 49% of the people feel as if the world is ending. That goes for both sides of the argument. Republicans win? No one cares about kids or people being killed. Democrats win? They are taking our guns away. Read most of the comments on this one thread! It is an embarrassment. Nothing is going to change until the "We the people" change it.

    September 11, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Payyourowndamnbills

    The right to keep and bear arms is an inherent individual right unconnected to any governmental organization. Would you libs please spare me the "if it saves one child" manure. You don't care about children. The day of 9/11/01, more unborn children were killed than all the deaths from the attacks. And this has continued through today. A recent Harvard study, ignored by CNN and the rest of the Demedia concluded that stricter gun control laws do not reduce deaths and may in fact increase them via other violent means. Gun control does not work. If you Libs cannot control yourself with inanimate objects then don't touch them.

    Liberal ideology in the form of gun control says that the young and the strong and the fast and the quick have a greater right to safety than the old and the weak and the slow. Firearms are the great equalizer. Any person, regardless of age or health, can defend themselves against any other person no matter the differential in size or ability. But then Libs have never had a problem sacrificing the young on their altar of sick ideology.

    Any adult, especially any parent, who does not avail themselves of the right to protect themselves and their families to the point to the point of using deadly force does not deserve either security or families. I cannot imagine any man who would cower with his family hoping that the attacker will run out of bullets before he is killed himself. That isn't a plan. It isn't even morally responsible. It is pure cowardice to expect others to protect you.

    I wouldn't give a boot full of urine for any parent who refuses to take whatever steps necessary to protect their children. Those that won't have chosen tea-party liberalism over rational thought.

    September 11, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Big_D

    Recalls are a waste of money. Not that the GOP cared about that. They still can't afford to fix our bridges here in CO.

    September 11, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. What Ever

    I agree with C-Lo,

    Lets brand them on ther forearm and make them wear a yellow star so we know who they are and when there's trouble we can round them up and put them into camps so there's no trouble!

    Oops, sorry C-Lo the Nazi's already did that one, you'll need to come up with something a little better.

    September 11, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. uncletomscabin

    Everbody thinks "lawabiding citizens should have all the guns they want without anything in place to see who is owning guns. What is suppose to happen when the so call lawabiding citizen kills his family, or the boss on the job, his next door neighbor or his young child or teenager becomes tihe victim of or kill someone. There is no such thing as lawabiding citizen; just people who have all kind of life issues and a love affair with guns of all kind and with the drop of a hat may very well be willing to use them.. I am sure before the day is over I will learn of some other death or deaths because someone has choosen to pull the trigger. I know of and have visited countries where ordinary citizens do not own or stockpile guns and the citizenry is fine with it. Something is not quite right about the thing here.

    September 11, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. davidi


    September 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. 1uniquemonique

    What do you expect in Colorado? First Columbine and then Aurora. The people in Colorado just voted for more massacres.

    September 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Audrey

    Don't forget to stay out of Iowa. They just voted to let blind people carry firearms.

    September 11, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. blue079

    That's fine, Colorado. Keep your assault weapons and your magazines that could take out an entire classroom of children in less than 30 seconds. But after two large-scale massacres that happened in your state, you would think you would have learned by now.

    The next massacre that happens in your state, their blood is on your hands. Don't turn to the nation for answers next time, we'll be looking at you for them.

    September 11, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Pete

    When the Supreme Court overturned Washington’s handgun ban in its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, was careful to note that the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute. He wrote that his opinion did not “cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications” — like background checks — “on the commercial sale of arms.”

    September 11, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. MaryM

    The NRA think they won. The recalls have just started for the repubs. We will not let the NRA run our government.

    September 11, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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