Will Colorado's Recall of Anti-Gun Senators Change its Future?
September 16, 2013
Vote for tougher gun laws, lose your job. The people of Colorado sent a strong message to gun control supporters Sept. 10 when they voted two State Senators out of office. The vote marks the first time in a Colorado history when a lawmaker has faced a recall election.
According to a response from the NSSF, "When legislators fail to represent the beliefs of their constituents, it is up to the voters to fire them."
Voters did just that, with state Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, now being replaced by Republicans Bernie Herpin and George Rivera.
In early 2013, Morse and Giron supported gun control legislation sponsored and funded by the deep pockets of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The new laws are responsible for restricting magazine capacity to 15 rounds, and requiring background checks for private firearm sales.
Despite heavy opposition, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the laws in March after passing Morse's Democrat-controlled Senate.
Up for re-election in 2014, Hickenlooper kept a low profile during the recall process.
When asked by about the significance of the recent recall, Hickenlooper told CNN's State of the Union, "I'm not sure it has a national message or even a statewide message. These are very specific districts."
The new gun laws were heavily contested by constituents from rural areas, who came out in large numbers in a grassroots effort against the measures. Dozens of sheriffs have also vowed not to enforce the new legislation, and have even sued to block the laws.
In a recent NRA News Special, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said, "These are not laws that benefit the law-abiding citizen, they actually target law-abiding citizens."
Local residents soon joined forces with contributions from the NRA to get people out to the polls. Interestingly enough, the grassroots effort to remove Morse and Giron is largely attributed to 28-year-old plumber Victor Head, who launched pro-gun advocacy group Pueblo Freedom and Rights (PFR) in response to the restricting legislation. Pueblo Freedom and Rights joined up with the Basic Freedom and Defense Fund (BFDF) to circulate awareness of their cause throughout local communities.
According to Fox News, "Reported contributions to Morse and Giron totaled around $3 million, giving them a 5-1 advantage over recall supporters. Yet foes of the two state senators found enough angry voters to prevail."
Recall voting took place at in-person polling places throughout the two counties, as opposed to mail-in balloting requested by the incumbents.
"This is a good, old-fashioned knock and drag operation — knocking on doors and dragging them to the polls," Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio told NPR.
Playing the blame game with the outcome of her fate, Giron cited the balloting format and lack of mail-in ballots to her termination from office. Giron told CNN News Room, " We know what really happened here," Giron said. "What this story really is about, it's about voter suppression."
In actuality, the only thing suppressed was a poll prediction from Public Policy Polling, which forecasted Giron losing by 12 points. The poll prediction went unpublished, and ironically Giron lost by 12 points.
Ousting Morse and Giron is a sign for many lawmakers to stop following cues from the White House and anti-gun groups, and focus on the will of their constituents. According to unofficial numbers, Morse was recalled by 51 percent of his voters in Colorado Springs, while Giron was defeated by 56 percent of her voters in Pueblo.
On Sept. 13, a statement from the NRA-ILA applauded the outcome.
"We were pleased that our on-the-ground grassroots efforts were able to supplement those of Colorado citizen activists and send a shot across the bow of the nation's anti-gun elites," the statement read.
Colorado residents who supported the recall must stay vigilant. The next step in regaining their freedoms is reversing the legislation put in place by More and Giron. According in a press release from the BFDF and PFR on Sept. 13, Colorado legislators are being surveyed to answer the following two questions:
Will you vote for a repeal of Colorado's new gun laws if given the opportunity in the 2014 legislative session? YES / NO
Would you support a Ballot Initiative that would repeal Colorado's gun laws? YES / NO
Maybe this time around, Colorado lawmakers will take a closer look at the will of their constituents before voting on their behalf.