Interview: The Men Behind the Colorado Recalls - Part 1
In 2013, several state governments, at the behest of the Obama administration and against the protests of their electorates, passed sweeping citizen disarmament laws. The impact of these laws varied from region to region, restricting magazine capacities to arbitrary limits, subjecting private transfers of firearms ownership to the de facto registration of background checks, and in some cases banning possession of entire classes of firearms altogether. Charges varied from simple misdemeanors to felonies more suitable to acts of wanton violence.
Among the list of states targeted for this campaign was Colorado. With a Western mystique and deeply entrenched culture of firearm ownership and use, it was the perfect poster child for acceptance of “reasonable” laws designed to reduce citizens’ access to guns and increase the legitimacy of government control over their ownership and use. Despite days of protests and thousands of opposing citizens - including virtually every county sheriff in the state - literally filling the halls of the state capitol to overflowing, the laws were passed along party lines by the Democratic super majority.
This was a watershed moment. There had been no mistake about the will of the people of this free state – it had simply been dismissed. Before the bills had even been signed by the governor, a chorus of voices started repeating a word rarely heard outside of historical quotes or histrionic rallies: “Tyranny.” Soon, another word rose above the murmur. Less dramatic and easily ignored, it carried just as much weight to those who understood it.
In Colorado’s one hundred and thirty-seven year history, no sitting member of the state legislator had faced recall. Yet only nine months after the gun laws were forced upon the citizenry of the state, not one but two senators had been removed from office for their part in embracing the overreach and, in the opening weeks of 2014, another resigned to avoid becoming the third.
While already historic, here is what makes the tale remarkable. It would normally be presumed that established pro-rights groups would have led the charge or that savvy politicians would be the ones to defend their constituents, yet neither happened. The recalls were the work of politically naïve citizens – strangers to each other prior to taking on the task – who dedicated themselves to pushing back against this encroachment of their rights.
They didn’t know the risks or the rules, the players or the field. They didn’t care. All that mattered was answering what, to each one of them, was a call to duty in the service of freedom. They sacrificed financial opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime family moments. They dealt with betrayal by those they expect to be allies. They worked on a shoestring budget, spending their personal reserves and some selling their guns to raise money for the fight. They strained their health, their marriages, their businesses because they would not meekly sit back and “leave it to the pros” to attempt to reclaim their rights.
The efforts began in Durango, Colorado, with the formation of a 501(c)4 called “The Basic Freedom Defense Fund” or BFDF. Founded by local businessman Timothy Knight, the group was formed with the intention of spawning independent “issue committees” throughout the state, each operating as an independent cell but under the corporate umbrella of the BFDF. That effort proved to be more than the group of seven men could achieve, forcing them to narrow their focus to El Paso county where they would eventually bring about the recall of Senate President John Morse, the first such recall in the state’s history.
Before scaling back, however, the BFDF succeeded in holding two meetings of potential recall leaders. The first was held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs where they met Victor Head of Pueblo. He would take what he learned and form his own 501(c)4, “Pueblo Freedom and Rights,” which would eventually recall Senator Angela Giron mere hours after the defeat of Senator Morse. The second meeting, held two weeks later in Wheat Ridge, was not as productive. Tim Knight traveled north to share key strategic, organizational and legal advice with a group seeking to recall Senator Evie Hudak but they and the BFDF were unable establish a working relationship. The group’s initial effort was suspended for lack of petition signatures and, when revived in 2014, suffered the bittersweet fate of having Hudak resign rather than face a potential recall election.
Both Tim Knight and Victor Head took the time to answer questions about their experiences, the ramifications of their actions and their plans for continued activism in the hopes of inspiring others to act in defense of their rights. We will be posting those interviews over the next few days and hope you find them both interesting and inspirational.