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Gun advocates fund recall efforts in Colorado

By CAPITOL HILL BLUE and Wire Service Reports
May 28, 2013

Colorado Senate President John Morse. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Colorado Senate President John Morse. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

In Colorado, where legislators actually had the nerve to take on the pro-gun lobbyists and pass new laws curbing the glut of weapons sales and use of deadly arms in crimes, those who voted for the new laws now face recall efforts.

Pro gun advocates, who see any legislative attempts to curb gun sales as some sort of anti-Constitutional conspiracy, want to make the point that anyone who attempts to use the law against gun owners faces dire consequences from those who think anyone and everyone should be armed.

The message from gun fanatics is simple:  “Mess with us and we will mess you up.”

Democratic state lawmakers in Colorado face recall petition efforts in what looks to be the first wave of fallout over legislative votes to limit gun rights. In an era in which recall efforts are booming, from governor’s offices down to town councils and school boards, the Colorado efforts will serve as the first test of gun-rights groups’ ability to punish elected officials who expanded gun control laws after last year’s Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., shooting massacres.

In Colorado, gun-rights activists wasted no time seeking recalls to oust state Senate President John Morse and three other Democratic lawmakers. The targeted lawmakers weren’t necessarily the main advocates for ratcheting back gun rights, but all come from districts with enough Republicans to give opponents hope they can boot out the Democrats and replace them with lawmakers friendlier to guns. Colorado is the only state outside the East Coast to have adopted significant statewide gun controls this year.

“Colorado seems to be the testing ground for some of the gun measures, so this has national implications,” said Victor Head, a plumber from Pueblo who is organizing a recall attempt against a Democratic senator.

But the gun nuts are finding that the general public may not support their antics as half of the recall efforts have already gone bust from lack of support.

In gun-happy Colorado Springs, however, the pro-gun types are piling up signatures in gun shops and outside libraries and grocery stores. The National Rifle Association sent a political mailer saying it was coordinating the recall effort with local groups, though the local recall petitioners have denied that. The NRA did not return calls for comment on their involvement in the Colorado Springs effort.

Morse has mounted a campaign to urge voters not to sign petitions. In an indication of the national stakes, that push is largely funded by a $20,000 contribution from a national progressive group called America Votes. The Morse campaign said the donation came through the group’s local Colorado office.

The recall group’s main funding comes from a $14,000 contribution from a nonprofit run by a local conservative consultant, Laura Carno. She said that contribution was made possible by some out-of-state donors.

Assuming the Morse recall goes to ballots, with an election to be held by late summer, the incumbent holds a slight party registration advantage in the district. He believes most voters liked his gun votes.

He’s counting on the support from voters like Joan Muir, a retiree who placed a pro-Morse sticker on her car bumper after seeing other cars carrying messages calling for his ouster. In an interview, Muir said she was dismayed by the recall campaign.

“I live here. I’m for gun control,” Muri said. “I don’t care for guns, period, so they don’t speak for all of us when they say Morse didn’t listen to the people.”

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Associated Press writers  Kristen Wyatt and Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report.

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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.