As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports:
A national gun control group is hoping to flip control of the Colorado Senate and other key races in the state by injecting $650,000 into campaigns and efforts to mobilize Democratic voters.
“The politics on this issue have shifted dramatically in favor of gun safety — and nowhere is that more true than in Colorado,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said. “We are proud to support candidates up and down the ballot who will put public safety ahead of gun lobby priorities.”
Democrats hold a safe majority in the Colorado House of Representatives, but Republicans control the Senate by a single seat. Senate Republicans blocked a “red-flag” bill during the 2018 legislative session that would have let law enforcement confiscate weapons from people in the midst of mental health crisis. Sen. Tim Neville, R-Jefferson County, fought to kill the red-flag bill and was the sponsor on another proposal to remove the permit requirement in order to carry a concealed weapon.
In 2013, following mass shooting tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and (especially) the July 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the unified Democratic majorities in the Colorado House and Senate debated and passed a landmark package of gun safety bills: most controversially, laws requiring background checks on most transfers of guns including private sales and a limit on magazine capacity at 15 rounds.
These laws provoked an intense backlash from national pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association and the hard-line National Association for Gun Rights headed by local gun rights extremist Dudley Brown. Brown, who believes there should be no pre-sale checks on gun purchases of any kind, and allied local groups flush with NRA cash initiated a recall election in September of 2013 that successfully recalled two Democratic Senators: Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo. A third Democratic Senator, Evie Hudak of Arvada, voluntarily resigned rather than putting her swing district (and herself) through the pain of a recall.
Since that time, though, all of the gains made by Republicans as a result of the events of 2013 have been retaken by Democrats. The successors for Morse and Giron both lost their seats in 2014, and fringe-right Sen. Laura Woods held Evie Hudak’s former seat for only two years before being ousted by Rachel Zenzinger in their second matchup in 2016. And despite annual attempts by Republicans to repeal the laws passed in 2013, they remain on the books. In the meantime, the ongoing and worsening tragedy of mass gun violence in America has shifted the politics of the issue to the point where Democrats in Colorado and elsewhere no longer fear taking the gun lobby head-on.
In 2013, Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute predicted the recalls would create a “wave of fear” among Democrats across the land, and for a few years, yes–it probably did. We submit to you that those days are over, and history will record that it was Morse, Giron, Hudak, and everyone else who tried to reduce the impact of gun violence instead of make excuses for it who were on the right side.
And yes, flipping the Colorado Senate would be a powerful way to say so.