Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gun Control Legislators Face Colorado Recall

As the Colorado General Assembly, guided by an unflinching Democratic leadership, moves to become the second State to adopt gun control legislation since the Newtown tragedy, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund  has set its sights on recalling the President of the State Senate and at least two other legislators, prominent proponents in the State’s pending gun control efforts.
in mid-January, the New York State Assembly moved fast and clean to approve the country’s most stringent gun control legislation barely one month after the Newtown tragedy, including limits on assault weapons, mental health requirements and ammunition magazines.  Barely one month after the Newton tragedy, New York efforts shrewdly occurred so swiftly as to preclude effective opposition with Governor Andrew Cuomo signing the legislation one hour after passage.
In what is may be a warning to other state legislators across the country and even Members of Congress acting on similar legislation, the BFDF, a tax-exempt organization based in Durango, Colorado has begun circulating petitions against politically vulnerable State Representative Mike McLachlan as local affiliates of BFDF have formed a committee to unseat State Senate President John Morse (D, Colorado Springs) and Senator Edie Hudak (D, Denver).   According to Kjersten Forseth, legislative aide to Morse, Colorado State Statute requires each petition to have signatures from 25% of last year’s Presidential vote to qualify for a recall ballot initiative.   
After recent testimony before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee by former astronaut Mark Kelly, the country’s most famous husband  to a wounded wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, Colorado’s legislative package took shape including a prohibition on gun ownership to individuals with domestic violence convictions, a limit on ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, requirement for gun owners to pay for background checks, an expanded background check process and required training to receive a concealed weapon permit.
Home of a state that has experienced the horror of the Columbine attack in 1999 and the Aurora Theatre shooting last year, Anthony Garcia, who is organizing the petition effort on behalf of the BFDF, said that the gun control efforts were ‘an affront to the second amendment, an affront to the Constitution.”  
With a Democratic majority (23 – 12), Forseth confirmed that the Senate had finalized their legislative efforts on Monday evening, approving all five bills with the required fee legislation on the way to Governor Hickenlooper’s (D) desk for signature.   According to Forseth, the other four bills go back to the State House (with a 39 – 26 Democratic majority) for approval and then onto the Governor.   In a sign of desperation, Republicans have promised to filibuster final passage.  
Senator Morse, a strong supporter of the gun control package said “I wasn’t expecting things to get this divisive.  I really thought that after Sandy Hook that even the NRA recognized we’ve got to do something. “   Commenting on the effort to recall him, Morse added “that‘s why politicians around the country don’t want to stand up for this issue.“ 
As if writing a new chapter to Profiles in Courage, Colorado Democrats might teach Congressional Dems a thing or two including Morse who said he is willing to lose his seat and accept whatever the public decides but that he “will not back down”.   In a recent development Wednesday evening, the State House approved a bill limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds (34 – 30) that is now headed to the Governor for his signature.  The endangered State Representative McLachlan from a swing district who won election by less than 800 votes, voted Yes in the face of “threatening and disparaging emails against his family” stating that “I’m not going to let them bully me. I’m not going to let them hold out a recall as a way to make me abandon the principles that I stand for and the reasons people elected me.”

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