Tough gun control legislation is proving to be far less popular than its promoters believed. Politicians in at least two states have faced recall efforts because of their support for gun control laws.
The latest casualty is Colorado State Sen. Evie Hudak. The Democrat resigned in late November rather than face a recall election launched by gun control opponents. Hudak represented Jefferson County, a suburban area just west of Denver.
The Senator said she resigned because she wanted to spare taxpayers the cost of a recall election, The Denver Post reported, but observers believe that Hudak’s resignation was prompted by the fear that she would lose a recall election instigated by gun rights advocates.
“This is a cowardly way out of the recall,” Joe Neville, the political director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, told The Denver Post. Neville’s group was circulating petitions for a recall of Hudak. The organization was upset about the senator’s support for legislation limiting magazines on weapons to 15 rounds and extending background checks for gun purchasers.
Hudak’s resignation came shortly before a deadline for the signatures to be turned in that would have placed her name in a recall election. She won re-election by just 600 votes in 2012. Jefferson County is a deeply divided area in which neither Democrats nor Republicans have a clear advantage.
Second Amendment activists went after Hudak in part because of her perceived insensitivity towards a rape victim at a state senate hearing in March. Hudak had told Amanda Collins of Reno, Nevada, that carrying a gun wouldn’t have kept her from being raped. Collins was testifying at a hearing on a bill to ban concealed weapons from college campuses.
Hudak’s resignation was the second major victory for Second Amendment advocates in Colorado this year. A successful recall election in September removed State Senate President John Morse and State Senator Angela Giron from office. Both Democrats had been outspoken supporters of gun control. Morse and Giron were the first state legislators recalled from office in Colorado history.
One reason why Hudak’s resignation was a victory for gun activists is that she represents a highly urban area close to Denver. Morse and Giron represented more conservative and rural areas.
Recall in Rhode Island
A recall election over gun rights might be expected in a Western state like Colorado but not in Rhode Island –yet that is exactly what happened in the small town of Exeter.
Four council members faced a recall election over the weekend because they wanted to transfer the authority to issue concealed weapons permits from the Exeter town government to the state. Second Amendment advocates opposed the move because they believed it would make it harder to get a concealed weapons permit in Exeter. Exeter is the only community in Rhode Island where the town clerk issues such permits based on recommendations from the local police.
“They’re just anti guns,” the man behind the recall effort, Dan Patterson told The Providence Journal. Patterson is a former town councilman who owns a local garden center that sells guns. The Journal reported that the one member of the council who voted against the measure is not facing recall.
That member, Raymond Morrissey, received a standing ovation for supporting the Second Amendment at a March council meeting, The Journal reported.
All four council members survived the recall, but not before making them think twice if they want to touch the Second Amendment again. Some political observers said the members survived not because they were popular but because citizens opposed replacing them with the losers of the last election, which the recall would have required.
Exeter is a rural community about 25 miles from Providence.
“The Second Amendment is here for the people of America,” Morrissey said. “Let it be.”
It looks like gun control is going to be a far tougher sell than proponents had thought.