Abusing the option of recall elections
Two Colorado state senators, including the Senate president, were booted out of office by voters in a recall election Tuesday.
You might be wondering what they did to deserve such treatment. Election fraud? Graft? Sex with children? Running a meth lab?
No, none of the above. They were tossed out because they had the audacity to vote their consciences on the issue of gun control.
In the wake of the Colorado theater shooting last year that left 12 dead and scores injured, Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, both Democrats, supported measures, eventually approved, to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and require background checks on private gun transactions.
We believe those bills were perfectly reasonable and that similar controls should be adopted nationwide, but the legislation sparked outrage among gun-rights activists who gathered enough signatures to force special elections that put Morse and Giron on the chopping block.
Tuesday’s votes were close, but both were ousted, despite campaign spending of nearly $3 million on their behalf, including a $350,000 personal check from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The lawmakers’ opponents spent far less, about $500,000, with the lion’s share coming from the National Rifle Association.
Despite his loss, Morse had no second thoughts about his course of action.
“I said at the time, if it costs me my political career, so be it,” Morse, formerly a police chief in suburban Colorado Springs, told Reuters after conceding his loss. “That’s nothing compared to what the families of (gun violence) victims go through every single day. We did the right thing.”
Conversely, the NRA was crowing. A statement released by its lobbying arm, the Institute of Legislative Action, said, “The people of Colorado Springs sent a clear message to the Senate leader that his primary job was to defend their rights and freedoms and that he is ultimately accountable to them – his constituents – and not to the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires.”
Perhaps Morse and Giron felt it was their job to defend the rights of those who prefer not to be gunned down in a public place by someone toting military-grade weaponry with high-capacity magazines, or to be shot by a convicted felon or criminally mentally ill person who could buy such weapons from a private seller with no questions asked.
Perhaps they felt, as we do, that when our Founding Fathers were writing the Second Amendment, they had no way of envisioning the leaps and bounds the world would take in developing weapons of mass murder that make the now quaint-looking muskets with which the Founders were familiar seem like pea shooters.
Some might argue that the recall is simply democracy in action. We believe such means should be reserved for government officials who are guilty of high crimes or great dereliction of their duties to the people, not those who sincerely believe they are doing what is best for the majority of those who put them in office, whether they be these lawmakers or the Republican government officials in Wisconsin who faced recall after taking on organized labor a couple of years back.
Morse and Giron would have faced voters in due time anyway. Nothing they did warranted their immediate removal from the Colorado Senate, but with the political climate in our nation these days, we’ve come to expect that cooler heads and common sense rarely prevail.