Colorado Gun Restrictionists
The campaign to recall two Democratic state senators appeals to some surprising demographics.

Colorado state senate president John Morse



As in New York and Connecticut — which both limited debate and passed their measures in a manner usually reserved for emergency legislation — many Coloradans felt unreasonably shut out of the process: Law-enforcement officers went to the capital, Denver, to testify against the legislation but were turned away at the door; floor debate was shut down on a seemingly capricious basis; and the rules were changed midstream. Rape victims who testified were, Kerns recalls, “treated with disdain and disrespect.” So frustrated were many citizens at how they were silenced that they drove around the capitol building honking their horns.

“John Morse saw an opportunity to become a national star,” Kerns observes, submitting that he has fallen in with “the Bloomberg set, which has not sat well in Colorado — an independent-minded state.” Governor Hickenlooper, too, once a reliable friend of the right to bear arms, appears to have turned toward New York for his inspiration. Contra his desperate insistence that neither “the White House [nor] New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group was controlling the agenda,” Todd Shephard, an investigative reporter at, used an inspired freedom-of-information request to demonstrate that Bloomberg was in fact involved in the passage of the law:

Phone records obtained by show that Mayor Bloomberg personally called Governor Hickenlooper at two critical moments of the gun-bill debate. While the calls may not exhibit a direct “controlling” of the process by Mayor Bloomberg, at the very least they likely show Bloomberg taking a hands-on, executive-level approach to the events in Colorado.

Kerns believes that Colorado is serving as a test case for progressives nationwide. If pro-gun-control forces can win there, she predicts, they will try to emulate their success elsewhere. If not, in the words of Paula Noonan of the left-leaning website Colorado Capitol Watch, gun restrictionists will have to “tuck away any initiatives for 20 years.” “This has struck a nerve with national Democrats,” Kerns confirms.

It certainly seems that way. Senator Angela Giron, one of the two recall targets, has hired Chris Shallow, a staff member from President Obama’s reelection campaign, to join her fight in Pueblo. “It’s amusing to see all of these signs in Giron’s window decrying ‘outside influence,’” Kerns laughs, “and then see a car with Illinois license plates parked just five feet away.”

“This is a truly grassroots campaign, and we’re reaching demographics that the GOP seemingly can’t,” Kerns says, noting that the campaign is popular with unions and steelworkers. (The former president of AFSCME 123 signed the petition to recall Giron, calling the senator’s vote for gun control “the final straw.”) Five of the six founders of the BFDF have never been involved in politics before, she tells me. Two of them are “plumbers in their twenties,” and another is Hispanic. “Not typical conservatives,” Kerns notes. The group is also popular among women. “In fact,” she adds, “this isn’t a partisan thing: Combined, the number of Democrats and independents that signed the recall petition outnumbered the Republicans.”

In a rather flustered post yesterday, the Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas indulged himself with the typical and peculiar insinuation that if elected politicians do something that people don’t like and then are recalled because of it, democracy is dead, arguing witlessly that the recallers wish to “intimidate elected officials into subservience.” He also suggested that pro-right-to-bear-arms groups are somehow overstepping the legitimate bounds of advocacy in a free society by backing the recall effort. Ultimately, though, Moulitsas has seen what is happening in a state that is increasingly important to Democrats, and he’s worried. Senators Morse and Giron, he warned, are “in real danger of being ousted.”

Let’s hope so.

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer for National Review.