by Steve Lipsher / The Denver Post
August 6, 2013 (still valid today)
(Today’s) recall elections of Colorado Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron — both Democrats — stand as a twisted version of “democracy at the barrel of a gun.”
Proponents of the recall petitions are angry that Morse and Giron supported measures in the past legislative session that — heaven forbid — require every gun purchase to go through a background check and limit the number of bullets that pre-loaded magazines can hold.
Most of the sane world sees those as common-sense steps intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and lunatics and prevent them from creating the kind of unspeakable carnage that we’ve already seen in Colorado at Columbine High School and the Century Aurora theater.
Polls consistently indicate that more than 80 percent of the population supports universal background checks and at least 60 percent supports the limit on ammunition magazines.
But backers of the recall insist that Morse and Giron “ignored” their constituents — namely, themselves — and they want their heads on pikes as a warning to others who would dare infringe on what they perceive to be their sacred, inviolable Second Amendment rights.
Recall proponents singled out Morse because he is the high-profile leader of the Senate and considered vulnerable, having won re-election in 2010 by a scant 340 votes in an electorally split Colorado Springs district.
Giron, who wasn’t even a particularly outspoken supporter of the gun bills, is being recalled because … well, apparently because the gun-activist front organization Basic Freedom Defense Fund could pay for enough petition signatures to meet the lower total-vote threshold in her district and get her hauled back to the ballot.
Meanwhile, they failed to gain enough support to recall two other Democrats, Sen. Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, and Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster. (Never mind that dozens of other legislators also voted in favor of the bills, and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed them into law.)
That lawmakers would face recalls over this single issue — reasonable checks on who has access to guns — would be considered ridiculous in any other society.
But in a bloodthirsty country where the National Rifle Association keeps members of Congress completely petrified and incapable of passing even the most tepid gun restrictions despite our embarrassing off-the-chart murder rate, this effort stands as reasonable political discourse.
Similar unfounded credibility is given to the effort by a few dozen malcontents and cranks in northeastern Colorado who want to break away and form a new state, also in a pique over those “goldarned lawmakers in Denver takin’ away our Second Amendment rights,” among other things.
Of course, few of those who believe that the new gun laws trample on the Bill of Rights actually are part of any “well-regulated militia” spelled out — but routinely ignored by gun proponents — in the actual text of the Second Amendment.
No one is taking their guns. No one is creating a gun registry long rumored by fear-mongers. No one is even telling them they can’t accumulate more firepower than several small countries or doomsday religious sects.
The state is telling them, however, that if they’re on a murderous rampage, they’re going to have to reload after 15 shots, not 100.
That doesn’t sound unreasonable.
Backed by the NRA and the equally absolutist Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the recall is intended only to intimidate lawmakers and hold them at the barrel’s end of their virtual guns.
It was without a hint of irony that original recall proponent Tim Knight of Durango told The Gazette in Colorado Springs about his motivation in the effort: “Democracy is being held hostage.”
Here’s hoping that the recalls both fail, serving as a punch to the bullies’ noses and giving notice that lawmakers may stand up to the gun nuts with the backing of the vast majority of us who are sick of innocent people dying in Littleton and Tucson and Sandy Hook and Aurora.
Steve Lipsher (email@example.com) of Silverthorne writes a monthly column for The Denver Post.