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Second Colorado Democrat facing recall over gun vote

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2013

DENVER | Gun-rights advocates submitted signatures Monday against a second Democratic state lawmaker in the escalating backlash against the Colorado legislature's recently approved gun control bills.

The recall group, Pueblo Freedom and Rights, reported delivering 13,570 signatures, about 20 percent more than the 11,285 needed to force a recall election of Democratic state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo.

Ms. Giron, who voted in favor of three gun control bills that were ultimately signed into law, vowed to fight the recall effort at a Monday news conference and she ruled out resigning her seat.

"This is what my constituents wanted," said Ms. Giron, adding that she's received support from firearms owners who support the gun bills.

The Giron recall effort is the second to turn in signatures in the past week. Organizers submitted more than 16,000 signatures June 3 in an effort to oust Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat who helped lead the push for the gun-control bills.

The secretary of state's office is expected to announce Friday whether there are sufficient valid signatures to place Mr. Morse's name on the recall ballot. The certification of either recall bid would mark the first recall election against a state legislator in Colorado history.

The Colorado recall drives are being watched closely as a brewing national referendum on firearms laws in the wake of two U.S. mass shootings in 2012.

"Colorado is becoming a backdrop for this issue to play out nationally," said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. "There are national implications. There's a movement afoot in Washington to bring back some of the gun bills, and they'll be watching to see what happens here."

Organizers of the Giron recall stunned the state's political establishment by collecting their signatures with volunteers, not paid petition-circulators. The grass-roots effort was led by three Pueblo plumbers, brothers Victor and Adam Head and Ernest Mascarenas.

The Senate district is packed with Democrats, but many of them also own firearms, which made it relatively easy to gather signatures, said Pueblo Freedom and Rights president Victor Head.

"We just set up our tents in parking lots and let people come to us," said Mr. Head. "You didn't have to talk anyone into anything, they just came and signed."

Ms. Giron accused recall supporters Monday of using "racially charged vitriol" against her volunteers.

"When people are hollering out 'You need to be deported,' you ask, 'What does that have to do with anything we're talking about here?'" said Ms. Giron.

Mr. Head dismissed the charge as "politics as usual," saying that his volunteers did not use racial slurs and in fact included many Hispanic residents.

"That's generally the last resort, playing the race card," said Mr. Head. "I don't think most people are falling for it any more. She still hasn't addressed the issue of why she didn't listen to her constituents."

If the Giron recall moves forward, at least one Republican, retired Pueblo deputy chief of police George Rivera, has said he will challenge her.

Ms. Giron's campaign, Puebloans for Angela, has raised more than $70,000 to fight the recall, mainly from pro-Democratic groups, including a $35,000 donation from the Sixteen Thirty Fund in Washington. Pueblo Freedom and Rights has raised about $11,000 since launching the recall effort in April, according to campaign-finance reports.

The state's three gun bills, which become law July 1, would limit ammunition magazine capacity to 15 rounds; mandate background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including temporary transfers, and require gun buyers to pay for their own background checks. All three were passed with no Republican votes.

This story was based in part on wire-service reports.

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