COLO. SPRINGS – Senate President John Morse appeared Sunday on MSNBC news to defend his support of controversial gun-control measures, and his decision to instruct fellow Democrat senators to ignore emails from 2nd Amendment rights activists who opposed the bills.
Morse said most of the emails were “disgusting and vile” and failed to address their opposition to seven gun-control bills – all pushed through two state Senate committees on March 4.
“They start with ‘you are an idiot,’” said Morse, adding that whatever email content followed wasn’t “going to have a great value for you.”
The comments attempted to clarify statements Morse made on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show in May when the Colorado Springs lawmaker admitted advising the Democrat Senate Caucus to ignore the “thousands” of emails from gun-control opponents.
“You can’t read them all of them anyway,” Morse told Maddow. “We just have to stay away from some of this toxicity.”
“We get the point that some people think their 2nd Amendment rights are being abridged – we know darn good and well that’s not true,” declared Morse. “It’s not worth getting into that argument… Don’t read anymore of these than you absolutely have to because it will wear on your psyche.”
As the Sept. 10 recall draws near, Morse has been generally silent on the gun measures that sparked the recall effort by the Basic Freedoms Defense Fund. But, Jennifer Kerns, pro-recall spokeswoman, raised the gun-control issues Sunday on the MSNBC show and challenged Morse to hold a public town hall meeting to answer questions from his constituents in Senate District 11.
Morse declined to participate in a public forum, and claimed that his “tele-townhall” meeting two weeks ago was “structured to include thousands of people.” Yet, that evening it was stated that an estimated 200 callers were listening to the lawmaker answer pre-screened questions.
Last week, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse campaign launched radio and TV ads imploring folks to vote against the Senator’s recall and extolling his 7-year voting record. The ads do not mention the gun-control measures.
Yet, the Morse-defense campaign also posted a video of the lawmaker elaborating on the gun-control measures during an interview with Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader on July 27.
“It almost appears that they came, signed their names so they could claim that they didn’t get the opportunity to testify,” asserted Morse who estimated 500 people had signed up to testify against the bills being heard on March 4.
In response to complaints that gun-control opponents had traveled from across the state but were not afforded the opportunity to testify, Morse said, “There was lots and lots of opportunity for people to testify.”
Opponents of the gun-control measures were unable to testify against several bills because the hearings were held in two committees that met for roughly 12 hours each – at the same time.
“We weren’t going to spend three weeks doing what we could do in a day,” Morse said. “That’s not how the legislature works.”
The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs listened to proponents and then opponents of three bills to ban concealed carry gun permits on college campuses, require background checks for all gun transfers and determine fees for the background checks.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on four bills, which included banning ammunition magazines greater than 15 rounds, prohibiting on-line training for concealed carry permits, taking firearms from domestic violence offenders and the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act.
The Assault Weapon Responsibility Act, sponsored by Morse, would have held gun manufacturers and sellers legally liable for weapons used in a crime – even if the guns had been stolen.
The Senate committees passed all of the bills, but later Morse withdrew the gun liability act and Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) killed his bill to ban concealed carry on campus – both measures were deemed too extreme by Republican and several Democrat lawmakers.
“Why am I being recalled?” asked Morse. “Because I have a low voter turnout” in the 2010 election, creating a threshold of 7,178 petition signatures.
Though 10,137 signatures were certified by the Secretary of State and upheld by a district court judge, Morse continues to challenge their credibility.
“As president of the Colorado state Senate, taking me out would be a tremendous trophy to put on the wall,” declared Morse.