Just nine months after President Obama launched his second-term gun grab, citizens have answered a call to arms. The historic recall elections in Colorado on Tuesday mark a turning point in a string of successes in the states by gun-control advocates in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy. The outcome of the races could determine how much further Second Amendment rights are abridged across the nation.
For the first time, Coloradans have organized recall elections for holders of state office — state Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo. Mr. Morse, the Democratic leader from Colorado Springs, led his party to pass four gun-control laws this year, coming after the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012.
The elections are being watched closely by both sides to see if this movement will be a referendum on Mr. Obama’s gun-control agenda, and whether the grass-roots movement will spread. That’s why New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wrote a personal check for $350,000 in the final week. The billionaire mayor wants to win these elections in order to say that it was a repudiation of the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, labor unions and other left-wing and Democratic outside groups have spent millions on these state races. The NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups are also running independent expenditures, but they are being vastly outspent.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado, Ryan Call, said in an interview, “The fact that so much money from out of state is being spent here is an indication that Obama and Bloomberg and their allies know that if they get pushed back here in Colorado, it takes the wind out of their sails to enact gun control on the federal level or other states around the country.”
Early voting for the recall started on Thursday. Mr. Call told me on Sunday that returns in Mr. Morses’s district showed Republicans out performing in early voting. The Colorado Springs district is 34 percent Democrats, 26 percent GOP and 40 percent unaffiliated. However, 4,160 Republicans had voted, compared to 3,400 Democrats.
Ms. Giron’s district is much more strongly Democratic (45 to 23 percent) and early voting showed 6,300 Democrats had turned out compared to 4,000 Republicans.
While the elections have taken on national importance, they are organically driven by grass-roots supporters. These activists and pro-gun groups were able to get well in excess of the approximately 10,000 signatures required to force a recall.
The anger arose when the Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled legislature ignored their constituents’ interests and instead rammed through bills in closing hearings without allowing law enforcement to testify.
The laws that passed were a “high-capacity” magazine limit of 15 rounds and a “universal background check” for private exchanges as of July 1, banning people from taking an online course to get a concealed-carry permit and confiscation of weapons for those merely accused of domestic violence.
The politicians didn’t want the public to hear from the elected sheriffs who do not support these measures, a view that is shared by up to 96 percent of law enforcement nationwide, according to a PoliceOne poll. Fifty-five of the 62 elected county sheriffs in Colorado even joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the magazine limit and the private-exchange background check requirements.
As not a single gun-control law has ever been proven to reduce crime, police view it as a waste of time and resources to go after the law-abiding instead of criminals.
In fact, in the first month that the private exchanges went through the mandatory background checks, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation reported that only 10 of the 561 applications were initially denied. The agency did not release the reason for the initial denials, but the low percentage shows that criminals are not going to go to a licensed firearms dealer for a background check before handing over an illegal gun.
It’s not as though the politicians don’t know this. As I wrote in my new book, “Emily Gets Her Gun,” the White House put the screws to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to push for gun-control bills in this Western and largely rural state.
Mr. Hickenlooper had previously said that no gun law would have prevented James Holmes from committing the horrific movie-theater shooting. Unfortunately, the Democratic governor was not able to stand up to Mr. Obama and his moneyman, Mr. Bloomberg.
In this same legislative session this spring, Democrats also rammed through new voting rules that allows for same-day, “motor voter” registration and moved away from precinct polling places to district or county polling centers. Republicans estimate these changes could give Democrats a 2 to 3 percentage point advantage.
Colorado has a strong tradition of gun rights and ownership, along with a culture of agriculture, sportsmanship and hunting. Mr. Obama may have thought that making inroads in a swing state would help his cause, but it may end up backfiring on him. Gun owners do not want to have their rights abridged, especially when it would do nothing to make anyone safer.
Whatever the results of this recall, it has shown the power of our democracy that citizens have an outlet against politicians who don’t listen to their views or respect their constitutional rights.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).