Watch: Colorado’s new senators, from recall to roll call

Herpin steers clear of gun control. Rivera vows to repeal universal background checks.

Watch: Colorado’s new senators, from recall to roll call

 
DENVER — Word in the chambers of the Colorado legislature this week is that Democrats, eyeing Election Day in November, are planning a “low-bore” 2014 session after the tumult of last year’s gun-control session. That might be possible in the House, where Dems still enjoy a nine-seat majority, but it will likely take a bit more to keep the boat from rocking in the Senate, where the recent, recall-driven, addition of Republican senators Bernie Herpin and George Rivera has narrowed the Democratic majority to a single seat.

In Colorado Springs, a slim majority voted to recall then-Senate President John Morse, replacing him with Herpin. In Pueblo, Senator Angela Giron was recalled in a surprise landslide and replaced by Rivera.

The difference in those margins isn’t lost on the two senators. While he spoke adamantly about his commitment to his district, Herpin doesn’t appear to be reloading on the gun-control issue just yet. Rivera, on the other hand, who rode in on a 12-point lead, said he plans to revisit the gun issue with his very first bill.

“Considering the recall, the bill that I presented as a pre-file is to repeal the universal background checks and the associated fees,” said Rivera. “That bill was highly contested down in Pueblo… I felt I had a duty to my constituents to present [a repeal].”

Rivera added that his three decades in law enforcement taught him that those who use guns criminally have no problem acquiring them. He said his constituents are worried that Colorado’s background checks law is too strict, or too invasive, and may prevent law-abiding citizens from owning firearms.

“I’ve heard from several of my constituents who are very concerned,” he said. “They say, ‘You know what? I had depression. I’ve gone to see a professional because I wanted to get better, and now, all of a sudden, I’m really scared I can’t exercise my right to have a weapon.”

Treading lightly after winning Morse’s former district by just a few hundred votes, Herpin is looking to legislate on issues which may not be as divisive. He said he plans to follow through on calls for bipartisanship and to focus on criminal-justice legislation.

“I’m the sponsor of Jessica’s Law,” said Herpin, “which would mandate a minimum prison sentence for someone convicted of molesting a child.”

Jessica’s Law died in the House last session with a range of stakeholders — from attorneys to survivors groups — saying the measure wasn’t a necessary addition to Colorado’s legal statues. Critics said Republicans introduces it just to grab headlines when Democrats vote against it.

Herpin also plans to bring a bill proposing that Colorado ramp-up its “shield law” to give journalists firmer legal footing when protecting the identity of sources.

The issue recently came to a head when attorneys for Aurora gunman James Holmes demanded that New York-based reporter Jana Winter divulge the source of a tip that came from law enforcement. A strong shield law in New York protected Winter, but the issue could still be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meantime, Herpin hopes to bring the relatively weak Colorado shield law up to the New York standard.

“Being a very strong advocate of the Second Amendment,” Herpin told the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, “why shouldn’t I be a strong advocate for the First Amendment and freedom of the press?”

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About the Author

Tessa Cheek

She writes and makes photos about communities. Her book, Great Wall Style, a monograph-profile-lyric essay, is forthcoming from Images Publishing. tcheek@coloradoindependent.com | 720-440-2527 | @tessacheek

4 Comments

  1. Will Morrison on said:

    What is it about gun nuts that NOTHING else matter to them? Why is it that 85% of EVERYONE In the COUNTRY wants background checks as a COMMON SENSE measure to ATTEMPT to get SOME kind of sanity into the discussion, but these MORONS seem to think that there is ONLY ONE thing in the bill of rights, the second amendment? NOTHING else matters to these LOSERS but their damned guns. Your life, your children’s futures, NOTHING else matters to them. If they don’t have that gun they just fall into complete despair and their lives have no meaning. HOW PATHETIC!

    This man and those like him need serious psychological counseling, if not outright commitment. Thee people have NO sense of proportion or reality at all. They live in constant fear of everyone and everything. And they just can’t STAND that others DON’T. And so it seems that they are going to do their best to make sure that the rest of us have something to fear, alright: THEM.

    I just can’t stand people like this. Myopia is NOT a way to live one’s life, but these people sure seem intent on it. And they are going to do everything they can to make sure that we all live in just as much fear and paranoia as they do. Miserable way to try and have a society.

  2. Matt on said:

    @Will Morrison,

    Gun Control was never truly about safety to the people, what It really is about is money and power to politicians in office.

    I believe in Gun Safety and responsibility just like most other law abiding gun owners in this nation, but none of the people in the office of our government want to take any responsibility with their actions and would rather use gun laws to impose their will on the common folk and
    rob us of our money instead of keeping us safe.

    With the gun sale ban repealed in Illinois and the historical recall in Colorado, there is proof that the American people are seeing through the deception, perjury, extortion, and hypocrisy from our own government .

  3. Will Morrison on said:

    I have to disagree with you. When people can actually be trusted NOT to go crazy and start shooting up the house, the neighborhood, the city, THEN I’ll believe what you say. As it is, I see EVERY DAY the results of how we’re doing things now. 30,000+ dead EVERY year from guns, and you think people can be trusted?

    Sorry, but when you let people walk around with weapons they DON’T need in what is SUPPOSED to be a safe society, things happen that cause death and injury. Hell, a LEGISLATOR in Kentucky the other day shot up her office “by accident”. Her BRILLIANT come back? “Hey, I’m a gun owner, it happens”.

    THIS is what I’m talking about. This MORON woman didn’t even CARE enough to take responsibility for what could have been a death in her freaking office! “It happens” is her reply??? SUCH responsible behavior! And this is an ELECTED official!

    This country is screwed to the gills, and largely because we DO allow such things to “just happen”. And when these things “just happen”people die, but it’s someone’s “right” to have that gun, not so much the other person’s right TO LIVE.

    We do NOT have to make it SO possible for people to kill others, and yet we INSIST on our right to kill. The gun is a freaking THING, lives CAN’T be replaced. What is REALLY more important, here? Someone’s need to feel like a big wild west star, or someone else’s right to live their life to it’s rightful end?

    Finally, think about any ten people you know. Do you REALLY want them ALL to be able to come at you with a gun whenever they want? I don’t know ten people that I WANT near a gun, let alone packing every minute of the day. It’s just NOT smart to let anyone be armed.

    The second amendment should really have been either clarified or left out entirely. It’s caused us nothing but trouble for generations. And it’s just getting worse with all the divide and conquer games that go on in this country.

  4. Ryecatcher on said:

    I’m not sure where gun nuts get the idea the American people are “seeing through the deception perjury, extortion, and hypocrisy of our own government”. If this were the case we’d all be manning the barricades and shooting it out with the Feds. This isn’t happening although I’m sure there are a few gun nuts out there that would like to start shooting.

    The cynical pessimism of the gun crowds and their feeling victimized by a tyrannical government is laughable. The Colorado recalls were perpetrated by a zealous minority who wasted time and money to satisfy their need to feel power. Time will tell how their agenda will fare in the long term. Their egos are bloated over the recalls. They’ll trip on their ego trips sooner or later. Nobody likes a bully especially a bully with a gun.

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