Senate President Pro Tem John Kavanagh and House Speaker Pro Tem T.J. Shope respond to the students walkout and demonstration in front of the capitol for the March for Our Lives movement.
The two republicans say they are working to meet some of the students’ demands, but the guns aren’t the problem, it’s society. They agree that it’s smart to go over the current laws we have in place now and update them. For instance, Shope says the background checks are only as good as the information being uploaded into the system so that process should be looked at and updated.
Kavanagh says he is trying to get a bill of his passed after it failed the first time he presented it. It’s mirrored after a program used in Israel where there are highly trained volunteer school employees who have access to bulletproof vests and firearms that are locked at strategic places in the school. Many students a part of March for Our Lives has made it clear that they don’t want to see firearms or school resource officers (SROs) on campus.
“I think what you’ll probably see at the federal level is bump stocks and background checks dealt with very quickly,” Kavanagh says. “I have no problem dealing with that at the legislative level, also. However, we have to prioritize and do things that will most protect kids in schools… How do you protect kids? When seconds count, the police are minutes away. You need to have people on site who can have access to guns and can neutralize these killers.”
The SRO who was at the Parkland shooting didn’t do anything, so Kavanagh says he would have more than one armed individual at the school in the chance that one is shot or panics.
Many students are asking for stricter and more extensive background checks. There were many complaints against the Parkland shooter to the point where he shouldn’t have been allowed to own firearms. Kavanagh says one of the problems to that is “the current bar for taking somebody into custody for mental observation is extremely high.”
“I don’t have a problem with lowering the bar,” Kavanagh says. “You have to talk to the ACLU on the left because they’re the ones who raised the bar extremely high. They’re the ones who emptied out the mental hospital so paranoid schizophrenics wander our streets.”
Shope says nearly every level of government failed the people of Parkland by not responding to their concerns about the shooter. He says it makes sense that they are being more persistent about this because “we failed.”
Kavanagh says the best we can do right now is get both parties to agree on getting firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and dangerous people, while also assuring that decent people who are trained can have access to guns for protection.
TED SIMONS: YOU HEARD YOUR FELLOW REPUBLICAN YOUNG JACOB MARTINEZ SAYING, DO SOMETHING. DID YOU GET THE MESSAGE?
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: I DID. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE DONE THINGS IN THE PAST. WE HAVE RUN SEVERAL BILLS DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS AND ACTIVE SHOOTERS. I WAS A COP FOR 20 YEARS. I WAS A COP IN NEW YORK CITY. I TOOK PEOPLE INTO CUSTODY A LOT OF PEOPLE BECAUSE OF MENTAL ILLNESS THAT WERE VIOLENT OR OUT OF CONTROL. WHEN I CAME TO ARIZONA, WE HAD ONE OF THE FIRST SHOOTINGS. I REALIZED THAT ARIZONA LAW WOULD ONLY ALLOW YOU TO TAKE SOMEONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS INTO CUSTODY IF YOU SEE THE BEHAVOIR, WHICH IS CRAZY BECAUSE IT IS OTHERS THAT SEE IT. I CHANGED THAT LAW. I'M RUNNING ANOTHER LAW DEALING WITH SCHOOL GUARDIANS, WHERE YOU HAVE HIGHLY TRAINED SCHOOL EMPLOYS WITH ACCESS TO BULLET-PROOF VEST AND FIREARMS LOCKED IN STRATEGIC PLACES IN THE SCHOOL TO RESPOND.
TED SIMONS: MANY OF THE KIDS ARE SAYING, THEY DON'T NEED S-R-OS, THEY DON’T NEED COPS OR TEACHERS PACKING PISTOLS AND THAT THING.THEY NEED A BAN ON BUMP STOCKS. THEY NEED STRICTER BACKGROUND CHECKS, UP TO PERSON-TO-PERSON SALES. AND THEY NEED A WAY FOR A FAMILY MEMBER OR A POLICE OFFICER OR A FELLOW STUDENT TO BE ABLE TO GET TO A JUDGE AND GET THAT JUDGE TO KEEP THAT PERSON FROM HAVING ACCESS TO HAVE FIREARMS. WHAT IS THE LEGISLATURE DOING ABOUT THOSE THINGS?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF CONVERSATIONS BEING HAD. THEY ARE SERIOUS CONVERSATION ABOUT THE LAWS WE HAVE CURRENTLY ON THE BOOKS, AND WHAT ARE WE LOOKING TO DOFOR PEOPLE SAFETY ALL OVER THE PLACE. I STARTED A CONVERSATION WITH THE COURT SYSTEM TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE LAWS ON THE BOOKS USING KNICKS TO BE SURE THAT IF THEY HAVE DONE THINGS IN THE PAST, THEY HAVE FOREGONE THEIR RIGHTS. THEY ARE PROHIBITORS OF FIRE ARMS. WHAT ARE WE DOING TO BE SURE THEY ARE ACTUALLY GETTING ONTO THAT. THE BACKGROUND CHECK IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE INFORMATION IN THE SYSTEM. WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE IN ARIZONA TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE UPLOADING THE CORRECT INFORMATION. TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE FOREGONE THEIR RIGHTS TO FIREARMS MAY BE ISSUED. THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE IT CLEAR FIREARMS ARE SOMETHING HE WANTS TO TACKLE.
TED SIMONS: HE HAS MADE IT VERY CLEAR. WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT DOWN THERE.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: I THINK THAT YOU WILL PROBABLY SEE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, BUMP STOCKS AND BACKGROUND CHECKS BEING DONE VERY QUICKLY. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT AT THE LEGISLATIVE LEVEL ALSO. WE HAVE TO PRIORITIZE AND DO THINGS TO PROTECT KIDS IN SCHOOLS. BANNING BUM STOCKS AND BACKGROUND CHECKS WOULD NOT HAVE STOPPED THE SHOOTINGS. NONE OF THEM HAD MENTAL ILLNESS. HOW DO YOU PROTECT KIDS? I AM A COP AS I SAID BEFORE. I KNOW ONE THING, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO SECONDS, THEY COUNT, AND THE POLICE ARE MINUTES AWAY. YOU NEED PEOPLE ONSITE WHO HAVE ACCESS TO GUNS AND CAN NEUTRALIZE THESE KILLERS.
TED SIMONS: THERE WAS A PERSON ONSITE WITH ACCESS TO GUNS. HE WAS NOT PREPARED AND DID NOTHING TO STOP THIS PARTICULAR TRAGEDY. THIS KID, THERE WERE A NUMBER OF RED FLAGS REGARDING THIS KID IN FLORIDA. PUT ANY OF THESE FLAGS IN FRONT THE JUDGE WOULD HAVE SAID GET HIM AWAY FROM FIREARMS.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: YOU RAISED TWO ISSUES, NUMBER ONE: THERE WAS A COP THERE. HE WAS A COP THAT FOLDED. HE WAITED OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL, WHICH SHOWS THE NEED FOR THE PROGRAM I'M PROPOSING. I WOULDN'T HAVE ONE SCHOOL EMPLOYEE THERE. IF THAT EMPLOYEE IS SHOT, OR THAT EMPLOYEE PANICS THE KIDS HAVE NO PROTECTION. YOU CAN HAVE THREE OR FOUR TRAINED. THEY ARE NOT CARRYING THE GUNS THEY ONLY SIEZE THEM FROM THE FAULT. THE SECOND THING IS, I DO NOT THINK A JUDGE COULD HAVE TAKEN THE WEAPONS OR COMMITED THAT CHILD. THE PROBLEM IS THE CURRENT BAR FOR TAKING SOMEONE INTO CUSTODY FOR MEM OBSERVATION IS EXTREMELY HIGH.
TED SIMONS: THAT IS THE PROBLEM. ADDRESS THE PROBLEM BY LOWERING THAT BAR. MAKE SENSE?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: I THINK IT IS WORTH TALKING ABOUT. IN THAT SITUATION, TALK ABOUT FAILURES AT ALMOST EVERY SINGLE LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT, YOU WOULD THINK PEOPLE WANT TO BE PROTECTED, BUT WHETHER IT WAS THE FBI, SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SCHOOL ITSELF, FOLKS TRYING TO DO SOMETHING AND THEY GO TO THE GOVERNMENT TO HELP THEM OUT AND WE HAVE FAILED. I AM NOT IN FLORDIA, BUT THE GOVERNMENT FAILED IN THAT SITUATION. DO WE TALK ABOUT THINGS? DO WE KNOW THAT THE NEIGHBOR HAS MENTAL INSTABILITY ISSUES, DO WE PROMOTE CLAUSES FOR MORE IMMUNITY TO BE GIVEN TO THOSE FOLKS IF THEY CALL IN TO POLICE OR SOCIAL WORKERS SO THEY ARE NOT SUED AFTER THE FACT FOR WHAT THAT PERSON MAY VIEW AS RIDICULOUS CLAIN.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: THAT'S ANOTHER BILL GOING THROUGH THE SYSTEM TO GIVE PROTECT SOMEONE FROM A SLANDER LAWSUIT TO SOMEONE IN GOOD FAITH REPORTS SOMEONE THEY BELIEVE IS VIOLENT BECAUSE OF MENTAL ILLNESS. I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM LOWERING THE BAR WITH GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION. YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THE ACLU AND LEFT. THEY RAISE THE BAR HIGH. THEY EMPTIED OUT THE MENTAL HOSPITALS SO PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENICS WANDER THE STREETS.
TED SIMONS: THEY REPRESENTATIVE RANDY FREED IS GOING TO BE ON THE SHOW. HE HAS A NUMBER OF BILLS. NOT ONE HAS BEEN HEARD.WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THAT THESE ARE COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROL MEASURES WE ARE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW BUT THEY CAN'T BE HEARD IN THE HOUSE. WHY?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: CHAIRS OF COMMITTEES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO HEAR BILLS OR NOT. I HAVE HAD SEVERAL OF MY BILLS THAT HAVE GONE AWAY BECAUSE MAYBE THE CHAIR DOESN'T LIKE THE BILL OR WHAT HAVE YOU. I DON'T KNOW EVERY BILL WHAT COMMITTEE IT'S BEEN SENT TO. ULTIMATELY, THE CHAIRS GET TO DECIDE ON THAT. THAT IS ONE THING. A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO THERE WAS AN EFFORT TO BRING A BILL DIRECTLY TO THE FLOOR USING A PARLIAMENTARY MANEUVER. IT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE THAT'S JUST NOT THE WAY IT OPERATES THERE.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGHBILLS DON'T GO THROUGH HERE AND CONGRESSIONAL LEVEL BECAUSE YOU HAVE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICS TRYING TO PUSH THEIR OWN SPECIALTY BILLS AND GET EACH OTHER OFF THE BILL. WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER, WE NEED TO FIND A WAY TO GET GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE AND DANGEROUS PEOPLE AND AT THE SAME TIME ENSURING THAT PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO GUNS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. IF PARKLAND SHOWED US ONE THING.
TED SIMONS: ACCESS TO AR-15? SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES?
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES ARE PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY RIFLE PEOPLE CAN BUY THESE DAYS.
TED SIMONS: SO YOU ARE SAYING YES.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGHYOU CANNOT BAN SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES. WE HAVE THE SECOND AMENDMENT. GO TO THE PISTOL RANGE. PEOPLE ARE SHOOTING BENIGN SEMIAUTOMATICS.
TED SIMONS: SO IN ORDER TO ALLOW FOR THE SEMIAUTOMATICS TO PRIFILATE AROUND THE COUNTRY, WE HAVE TO PUT HOW MANY PEOPLE WITH GUN ON THEIR HIPS IN SCHOOLS FOR THAT. THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: EVEN THE FAR LEFT IS NOT TALKING ABOUT BANNING SEMIAUTOMATIC WEAPONS. MOST PEOPLE FOR SELF DEFENSE HAVE SEMIAUTOMATIC HANDGUNS. YOU GOING TO GIVE ME A MUSKET?
TED SIMONS: SO THE ANSWER IS NO?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: IT'S CLEAR TO ME. IF YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT BANNING SEMIAUTOMATIC WEAPONS, THAT'S NEARLY SINGLE FIREARM THAT THERE IS.
TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT AR-15? WHAT ABOUT RIFLES?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: SHOW ME A DEFINITION THAT DOES NOT BAN SOMETHING ELSE THAT AT THIS POINT WE ARE EVEN TALKING ABOUT. I DO NOT THINK IT EXSIST. I DO NOT KNOW. I DO NOT BELIEVE WE SHOULD HAVE A BAN ON THAT. TO ME, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, LAST QUESTION. BEFORE WE GO, LAST QUESTION. IF THE LEGISLATURE RESERVES SIGNEE DIE AND NOTHING IS DONE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?
REP. T.J. SHOPE: I THINK, I TRULY BELIEVE THAT WE WILL HAVE ANY NUMBER OF THESE TOPICS WE TALKED ABOUT. I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL MAKE SENSE, ANY REASONABLE PERSON WILL SEE MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
SEN. JOHN KAVANAGH: YOU WILL SEE FIVE OR SIX BILLS. YOU WILL NOT SEE BILLS THAT VIOLENT THE SECOND AMENDMENT, BUT THEY LIMIT THE AVAILABILITY OF WEAPONS, BILLS THAT MAKE SCHOOLS SAFE. NOT BY ROUNDING UP LEGALLY POSSESSED WEAPONS, BUT MAKING SURE THAT WHEN SECONDS COUNT AND THE POLICE ARE MINUTES AWAY, THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE ABLE TO PROTECT OUR KIDS.
TED SIMONS: GOTTA STOP YOU RIGHT THERE. THANK YOU TWO FOR JOINING US. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.
Sen. John Kavanagh: (R) Senate President Pro Tem
Rep. T.J. Shope: (R) House Speaker Pro Tem