A week from today, voters in Colorado will be offered the opportunity to recall two state senators who voted for increased gun control in the wake of the shootings at Newtown. We hope that they will take it.
Ripe for the chopping block are Angela Giron, of Pueblo, and senate president John Morse, of Colorado Springs. Both ignored the will of their constituents and pushed for limits on the size of magazines and the extension of background checks to private sales. Now they may lose their jobs.
Because the United States is not a direct democracy, the dismissal of public officials outside the healthy rhythm of regularly scheduled elections is a tool that should be used sparingly. Nevertheless, there remain certain circumstances in which the offenses committed are sufficiently grievous to render such an approach appropriate, which goes some way to explaining why the citizens of Colorado have felt provoked to call for the first recall elections in the state’s 137-year history.
As in New York and Connecticut, lawmakers in Colorado were aware that gun-control efforts benefit immensely from the unlovely combination of legislative haste and emotional rawness — and they leveraged both. During debate, swathes of law-enforcement officers went to the capital to argue against the proposals; they were turned away at the door. Women, many of whom had been the victims of sexual violence, assembled to add their input; they were treated with condescension and impatience — if they were called to speak at all. Citizens who had driven down from other parts of the state were so frustrated at being kept out of committee meetings in Denver that they drove around the capitol building for eight hours honking their horns. This was not, to borrow a favored chant of the Left, what democracy looks like.
The recall movement, conversely, most definitely is. Its representatives are neither monomaniacs nor traditional political operatives. Both of the groups at the head of the charge formed in response to the vote, and both are composed mostly of formerly apolitical citizens. Both outfits, too, have attracted considerable support from across the political spectrum, bringing into the fold a considerable number of Democrats, independents, and unions, too, including a former president of AFSCME. If you want to support the effort, you can do so here.
Yet it will not be easy. They are up against significant financial and political opposition: Michael Bloomberg, who was involved in the laws’ passage, recently wrote a $350,000 check to an anti-recall group, and billionaire Eli Broad has contributed $250,000 of his own.
The billionaires can write all the checks they like, but that doesn’t make their agenda popular. Since he signed the measures, Governor Hickenlooper’s approval rating has dropped 16 points, while the legislature has become sufficiently unpopular to prompt a state pollster, Ciruli Associates, to observe that there is a “a full-scale revolt going on right now in Colorado.” The Washington Times put it more bluntly: “Voters appear to be having a case of buyers’ remorse.” The state of Colorado has a generous return policy. Voters should make the most of it.