Partisanship is not grounds for recall

Colorado Senate President John Morse is under fire by gun-rights advocates, and the shots are echoing from Boston to L.A. The battle tactic is recall.

Morse supported gun-control legislation that included stricter background checks to include private and online gun sales and a 15-round limit on certain ammunition magazines.

If backers of a recall effort succeed, voters will decide in September whether the Colorado Springs Democrat gets to keep his job. It’s a big deal; no Colorado state lawmaker has ever faced a recall vote.

This cynical and misguided effort must be defeated.

But first, why do we subject our political process to such excess?

A recall makes it possible for voters to remove an elected official before end of term. It begins with petition signing. In the case of the Morse recall effort, backers collected twice the required signatures, as if we needed a reminder of the heat generated by this debate. Said Bill Adaska, a volunteer collecting signatures to oust Morse, “[We’re] going to show Washington and Chicago that when you come after our guns, we’re going to take you out.”

This attempt to remove Morse is a wrongheaded misuse of the recall option.

Let’s face it: Politicians are biased. They can’t get elected without bias. Their partisan viewpoints undergird political debate. We count on them to pursue their agendas within a framework of expectations, such as working hard and in good faith, while respecting the law and reasonable ethical boundaries. Of course, when a politician oversteps, recall is a valid check. Think Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, and his illegal efforts to sell Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. That’s a good reason to recall.

But partisanship is not.

For six years, Marilyn Musgrave represented many of us in Washington. I disagreed with every word she uttered and every anti-abortion and gay-bashing initiative she backed. But her efforts didn’t qualify her for recall. She worked hard to pursue her ideological leanings and remained true to viewpoints for which she was elected by the 4th District.

Similarly, Morse is staying true to biases he clearly stated prior to his election and therefore should not be targeted with this recall.

What we are witnessing is the willingness of the pro-gun movement to advance its cause regardless of consequences.

We’re seeing too much of such recklessness recently, some of it downright kooky. Fifty-four Colorado sheriffs, including Larimer Sheriff Justin Smith, recently assailed Colorado’s new gun-control legislation. Among other things, the sheriffs argued that a 15-round magazine limit violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because, according to their lawsuit, “Disabilities make it difficult to quickly change magazines under the stress of a home invasion.”

Are we hearing sincere concern about disabled Americans? I doubt it, and if I were disabled, I might find the sheriffs’ argument exploitative and offensive. I wonder how many disabled Americans like being singled out as the rationale for more dangerous gun laws.

Sheriff Smith, why tarnish our memory of your stellar High Park Fire performance with these politicized distractions from your day job? We tolerated enough of that from your predecessor.

But don’t worry. If you choose to stick to your guns, we won’t push to recall you. That would be inappropriate.

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