COLORADO SPRINGS - Gun rights supporters want to punish Democrats who passed a package of new gun-control laws this year in Colorado and they've focused on Colorado Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs).
Rather than mount a more difficult statewide recall, pro-gun advocates pointed their effort toward Colorado Springs, where they think they have a vulnerable target in Morse, who won district 11 by a single percentage point in 2010.
"I think this will send a message that we're not going to tolerate bad bills in Colorado," said Bill McDonald, owner of The Uniform Shop.
McDonald volunteered his small business as a signature gathering location for the recall effort against Morse. He has a map on the wall to help people determine if they are in Morse's district, a clipboard for the petition and a stack of bumper stickers.
"I'm very disappointed in [Morse's] actions," McDonald said. "He's not representing Colorado Springs well."
The recall effort isn't a rag-tag effort with a handful of mom and pop shops gathering signatures. It's hitting the pavement enough that Sen. Morse was asked recently to sign the petition to recall himself at the supermarket.
"I said no, really, I am John Morse. And I pulled out my wallet and showed my driver's license so that he could see that I wasn't making it up," Morse said.
Morse said he heard the signature collectors exaggerating the impact of the gun legislation debated in the state legislature this year.
He pointed out to the people with clipboards that none of the proposals would have required anybody to give up a gun.
"And I pointed out how they can verify every word that I was saying by going and looking at the bills to see what the bills actually say," Morse said.
Still, Morse was front-and-center as Democrats advanced a package of gun legislation that gun advocates think went too far.
He supported the new laws imposing universal background checks and limits on magazine capacities. He also pushed for and failed to pass a bill to extend civil liability to manufacturers, owners and retailers of semiautomatic rifles for what's done with the weapons.
Come what may, Morse has no regrets.
"There are no second thoughts anywhere," Morse said. "If I needed to pay with my political career to make Colorado a safer place from gun violence, that's a small price to pay."
Morse and his opponents do agree that this effort could have far-reaching implications on future efforts to pass gun legislation.
"If you can take the senate president out, then you can have a very chilling effect on gun legislation throughout the country," Morse said.
"This will send ripples across the country," said Laura Carno, a recall supporter with the group "I am Created Equal."
That's why the weekend will see a big last minute push in the district to collect as many signatures as possible in time for the Monday deadline.
"They're going to be precinct walking doing sign and drives and just out en masse," Carno said.
The secretary of state's office will take about two weeks to validate each signature. Supporters will need nearly 7,200 of them to belong to registered voters from Morse's district.
If they meet that goal, Morse will have a choice: face the recall election or resign and allow Democrats to appoint his replacement.
"If we really do get to the point where it's like, 'you know what, let's just make sure that a Democrat holds onto the seat,' and that becomes the top priority, then you're right, I have the option of stepping down and that's what would happen," Morse said. "But at this point that's not in my plan."
Covering downtown and surrounding areas, Morse has the only swing district around Colorado Springs.
He feels comfortable with his chances, but so do his opponents.
They don't want him to resign.
"Because it doesn't allow us to put somebody else in who feels differently about the gun bills," Carno said.
Signatures are due June 10 in the only other recall effort active in Colorado.
That effort is aimed at another Democrat in a close district, Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)