September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
10 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. denim

    For that matter, when I lived in Massachusetts, I had no major problem getting a CCL. Never did much with it, but I had it. In that state, it's effectively a matter of where you live. Live in a city, no chance. Live in a more rural area, not a problem.

    September 11, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. TC

    Looks like the " god and guns " morons won this time....

    September 11, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Steve

    Coloradans have very short memories and msut be dense. Do you remember Columbine? How about Aurora? What is wrong with lunatics carrying guns? It isn't smart and it isn't safe. Many more Coloradans apparently need to die before horse sense takes root in the population. Why fear the government when every kook, felon and gang banger has a gun? Look at you children before you go to sleep tonight and make sure they are safe. If you have guns, make sure they are locked up tight. If your child is lonely, afraid, taunted or bullied dont take them to the firing range to "learn how to protect themselves". See a doctor and get help for them before tragedy strikes. If you have a 3 year old in the car, don't ever leave a loaded gun near them unattended or you will lose the most precious thing you have in this world-your child. The gun toting crowd has forgotten that all material things can be replaced but after a bullet goes through th heart of your child your world has ended. Guns kill people and the more guns there are in the hands of more people the more deaths from guns will occur. Propaganda aside from the NRA a gun is silent death waiting ot kill those you love.

    September 11, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. 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.
    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.
    @Rudy Nope. I've just seen the chaos from Hurricane Katrina that was a preview to what it would be like when government fails to protect you. Paranoid? No, I don't spend all day thinking of stuff like that. Jst prepared in case. My choice. Still a free country right?

    September 11, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. MarcusAurelius


    "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."

    More hyperbole from an emotionally charged liberal!

    September 11, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Chris

    @denim. That's why Mass is looney. It simply depends on what town you live in and the political opinion of that local police chief. They can deny you for very simple things.

    September 11, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. blue079

    I love how a lot of these gun-nuts keep talking about 'not cowering when someone is coming to attack you and your family'. Not sure how background checks are cowardly, but whatever.

    Which massacre was it, Columbine or Aurora, that you, as an adult legally able to carry a firearm, would have been able to not only protect your loved ones but take out the shooter? The one in the high school, where the parents were at work... or the dark movie theater where the shooter didn't give a heads up before he started shooting and setting off explosives? Just wondering.

    And even if you are in a situation like that, how would background checks and limited magazines prevent YOU from protecting yourself? You need more than 15 rounds before you can successfully either take out the attacker(s) or get away? Target practice?

    You are the paranoid, gun-nut, psychopaths we, the law-abiding citizens, need protection from in addition to just the regular violent criminal.

    September 11, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Katey

    Good riddance to both of you. This is the problem with American politicians; they think they're doing what's right because they're too busy toting political talking points that they don't realize what they're pushing for is useless and counterproductive. So stick to your guns all you like senators; tighter guns laws will NOT prevent criminals from killing innocent people; however a well armed populace would certainly help more so than your pathetic gun free zone signs.

    If a criminal breaks into my house; what's going to scare / stop him more: A sign that says gun free zone no guns allowed? Or waves of lead being sent down his direction @ 975 FPS?

    It doesn't take a politician to figure it out. We need more innocents with guns, not less.

    September 11, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Vince

    Then let there be more movie theatre incidents. They must love guns more than their children.

    September 11, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. morgan


    They pushed their agenda, ignored the voters and now the voters have come back and kicked their backsides.

    September 11, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. SFC Mike

    Yoo wont taek are gunz ever, commies!

    September 11, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Stu K

    It is not wise take it out on the general population, when a few sick people are responsible for a few heinous crimes!

    September 11, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Doughboy

    Next stop...recall the big "O". Impeach the king of gun control

    September 11, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. frank

    Sanity, Bill is correct. CNN deleted my previous response to you because they are liberal and antigun so this one will get deleted too as they ignore the first amendment!!!! You mislead people with made up drama. No one in all 50 states may buy a firearm online UNLESS it is done through a Federal Firearms License(FFL) holder. The FFL is required to run a background check on the buyer. That check MUST be clear/approved PRIOR to delivery. You are a liar.

    September 11, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Mister Craig Troller

    Going through the 38 pages of comments and having seen a good majority of "one sided" comments that could have at best stayed as one sentence punch lines for the “humor” factor. I’ve Read some generalizations of “guns kill people” or any other reference to a few tragic incidents that occurred. The point of the matter for most of the posters that have presented there misguides comments along with derogatory enhancements of how they feel; I do feel sorry for them all.
    Most of who has been described above is ignorant to how a gun actually works. A gun sitting all alone, loaded, unloaded, disassembled, whatever the case may be, cannot function without the will of the user.
    The “Mental Illness” case is valid to an extent and is often times medically cultured to where it is known and expressed to them that they can’t own or handle fire arms for medical reasons.
    The “Magazine Limitation” to 15 rounds actually means nothing. Someone with the malicious intent to harm someone else through the use of a firearm can actually hold several loaded 14 round magazines (If they ever existed, I don’t really know and I don’t care.) and cover, load, fire, rinse and repeat. I don’t know why they would even entertain this law at all. Glad it’s item off the books that was just wasting paper and ink.
    I could go on and on about the different modifications and performance add-ons of firearms, but this all amounts to one thing that no Law, Directive, Amendment, ect, ect, can actually stop and that is the determination of someone willingly making the conscious decision to harm another human being.
    The Law can say murder it’s wrong, eventually the accused will get punished or found innocent, and many will suffer along the way. If you take firearms away from everyone, for the sake of a few out there that are willing to commit to such an act? That is not fair for the rest that enjoy the recreation, the sportsmanship, the hobby, and have accepted the responsibility that comes along with owning a firearm.

    P.S. I don’t bring an explanation without some direction as to how to approach a solution. Government funded and facilitated firearms instructors.. (Probably have those already.)

    September 11, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. t

    .we really need to split the country into NRA/ GOP ......and the smart side............

    September 11, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Stevee

    Sometimes democracy actually does work. Amazing. The people have spoken.

    September 11, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. mugofstout

    They got what they had coming. And the morons whining about not loving your kids are fools. Every household should be armed. Learn to protect you and yours, not be dependent on the police.

    September 11, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. tylor2

    Maybe the leftist transplants from the failed state of California will pick up and move further east to a more suitible liberal stronghold. I hear St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit are fine examples of liberal policy.

    September 11, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. David from south carolina

    glad for the people of colorado..they just got rid of 2 weasels...need to evict more and i feel a growing of recalls about to begin across the states..lets evict them out of there starting with BLOOMBERG..let me know where and what cause and ill send money to help fight has to be an orginazition and legal

    September 11, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. NedTaggart

    @Mister Craig Troller

    The issue here isn't about much more than an attempt to limit gun ownership. The politicians know exactly what they are doing by instilling fear into the populace and saying we need this "For The Children". The reality is, an extremely large percentage of the children affected by this are Teenagers that are in possession of illegal firearms using them on other teenagers to commit crimes.

    The fact that this occurred in CO, after having been through Aurora and Columbine speaks to the fact that reasonable people are able to think through the issue and come to a decision.

    Both sides of this issue were free to show up and vote for or against the recall effort. The people of CO have spoken.

    September 11, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. MaryM

    Just wait and GOP/ NRA. There will be another school shooting and probably in those districts you just won. It is just a matter of time now.

    September 11, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Rob

    In the remote event that the USA should be attacked on US soil by enemy forces, the gun bearing patriots in this country
    will be the ones that save this country.

    September 11, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. David F

    Let this be a lesson to all legislators that American value their basic rights and freedoms. We will not be fooled by the liberal anti-gun lies and deceit.

    September 11, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Michael

    Thank You for getting rid of democrats. They are destroying America from within

    September 11, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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