Gun control prompts local recall elections

September 2, 2013

Dezarae Yoder
[email protected]

From the very beginning, the gun show in Colorado has been one for the books. A bit like a dramatic opera, there are moving parts and many players.

Recall elections for two southern Colorado state senators have prompted national attention as many consider the state a bellwether for the rest of the country on how moderates will behave toward new gun legislation.

In the spring, Democrats pushed forth gun legislation seldom seen before in a western state. Five of the originally proposed bills passed and were signed into law July 1 by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The laws range from requiring background checks for private sales and transfers to establishing a background check fee.

Two of the Colorado senate bills – SB 195 and 197, which respectively require in-person classes for concealed carry permits and prohibit domestic violence offenders from owning a firearm – were co-sponsored by Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs).

Morse voted against failed HB 1226, which would have removed concealed carry on college campuses.

As the first lawmakers in Colorado state history to ever be recalled, Morse and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) have set precedent both in the state and in the country.

Both legislators have the potential to join only 36 who have ever been recalled.

Twice now the recall has been in court due to legal issues, further playing up the background for the dramatic end.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Aug. 27 that potential recall voters are not required to indicate “yes” or “no” in order for their successor vote to be counted.

Ballots were previously expected Aug. 27, but because of the statement made by the court, the wording will have to be changed.

The document contains two sections. One regards the issue campaign to vote “yes” or “no” to either remove or keep Morse, the District 11 senator.

The second segment is a candidate campaign with the Republican Bernie Herpin asking for votes to replace Morse if successfully recalled.

Herpin has also had a claim filed against him by Manitou resident Ann Schmitt. Schmitt claims in her complaint the ads being promoted by Herpin are illegal since he is not considered a “candidate” and does not appear in opposition in that section of the ballot.

Potential Libertarian candidate Jan Brooks also looked to join the race but fell short of the needed amount. More than 50 percent of the signatures Brooks gathered were rejected by the state last week.

Out-of-towners like Democrat New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a major gun control advocate, have gotten increasingly involved in the debate. Last week, Bloomberg himself donated $350,000 to fight both recalls.

This was not Bloomberg’s first contact with the state regarding Colorado’s recent gun legislation.

In the days leading up to the Senate Committee hearings, the NYC mayor called Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper twice.

The NRA has also thrown their money hat into the ring in support of the recall efforts. The organization’s lobbying arm, Institute for Legislative Action, has spent more than $100,000 to support the removal of both Giron and Morse.

Laura Carno, conservative strategist and Founder of I Am Created Equal recently joined Jon Caldara, “Devil’s Advocate” current events show host and president of the Independence Institute to discuss the issue of recalling John Morse.

“Sen. Morse was a very moderate Democrat senator,” Carno stated. “Then 2013 happened … Sen. Morse will say there are all these tragedies that he needed to respond to, I say Mayor Bloomberg started spending money here and Senator Morse changed his legislative profile significantly.”

Money has also been donated from Carno’s organization. “It’s 100 percent Colorado money,” Carno stated. “Every penny, every single penny … All Colorado a combination of large and small numbers and no NRA money.”

Students at UCCS have also been doing their part to get involved. While many are opposed to the new gun legislation, Kayla Strecher, vice president of the Young Democrats, has been an active proponent of Morse.

“I know he has the good ideas of the people and wants to protect the people,” said Strecher. “Even if making the big decision isn’t always what pleases everyone, sometimes it’s what you’ve got to do to impact the community.”

As for the gun legislation specifically, Strecher said, “[T]his piece of legislation does not take away the weapon. It only limits the amount of ammunition in terms of magazine and it also pushes for stricter punishment and enforcement of criminals. For example, domestic violence. Domestically violently and charged criminals.”

Strecher also spoke on a more personal level regarding her reason for supporting Morse. “As a family member of someone who was domestically violent … [the legislation] speaks volumes to just have that security backed by the protection and the enforcement of the law,” she said.

Voting for the recalls runs Sept. 5-10.