Why It Matters - Colorado Recall Election 2013

Democratic Colorado State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron were ousted this week in a recall election that will have impact far beyond the state's borders. For supporting the states new stricter gun laws, the two were subjected to a one-issue recall campaign. Historically, recall elections have been considered in cases of criminal or unethical activity, not a single vote. This matters because the recall election and its result will give pause to any lawmaker in any state who considers a vote to impose stricter gun laws. It will give pause to lawmakers considering any controversial issue.

After the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater that killed 12 in July 2012 and the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre five months later that killed 26 people, mostly children, many states begin to consider stricter gun laws. Colorado was the second state after New York to pass a tougher standard. Morse and Giron were vocal in their support for the new laws.

Gun rights advocates and lobby groups opposed the new laws, and began a recall campaign against every lawmaker who voted for them. They gathered enough signatures to proceed with a recall election on Morse and Giron, but not enough to proceed against the others who voted for the laws.

While a small majority of the people of Colorado disapproved of the new laws, they disapproved of the recall effort in much greater numbers, two to one, according to Pew polls. In spite of this, the election was held, and Morse and Giron lost their Senate positions. Two duly elected officials who voted their conscience were punished for it by the pro-gun lobby and a few extremists.