The student-led gun safety advocate group March for Our Lives is pressuring Governor Doug Ducey via letters, emails and social media to hold a special session on the matter following a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 dead last week.
The Arizona branch of March for Our Lives is calling for the governor to do something immediately about the crisis by calling a special session. March for Our Lives Arizona co-chair Jordan Harb says the feeling in his classes following the latest shooting wasn’t just despair and sadness, but anger and frustration as well.
March for Our Lives began following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February that resulted in 17 deaths. The group has led marches, sit-ins and lay-ins at the capitol and sent a mass of letters to government leaders. Harb says the anger and frustration comes from putting in all of the hard work to get the attention of the government only to have 10 more lives taken in another school shooting a mere three months later.
“I’m sick of seeing thoughts and prayers, and then nothing,” Harb says. “Everyone is sick of this cycle. We have a school shooting, we have thoughts and prayers, we need to take action, then that legislation comes up and it dies. Then the next school shooting happens. It happens over and over again.”
Harb says all students in this country now share a single fear, whether they’re in California or Connecticut. March of Our Lives tweeted Ducey in response to the prayers he offered to those affected by the Santa Fe shooting.
We are the kids being slaughtered again and again. We pray for those in Santa Fe because politicians like you don’t have the guts to take action and listen to the very kids suffering in and out of our classrooms @dougducey. https://t.co/ADAm26PcTw
— March For Our Lives AZ (@PHXMarch4Lives) May 18, 2018
“That tweet was a call to action for the governor because he failed to even meet with us after the Parkland shooting and he failed to really take aggressive action,” Harb says. “He did come out with a school safety plan, but he didn’t push the controversial issues like stop orders and background checks.”
March for Our Lives is calling for reforms that would include comprehensive background checks, stop orders and funding for school counselors. Ducey came out with a school safety plan following the Parkland shooting that had details on stop orders and offered $9 million for school counselors.
“If you aren’t familiar with Arizona’s budget, that’s pennies in a bucket,” Harb says in regards to the funding for counselors. “The stop orders were completely gutted by the Republican Senator [Steve] Smith who removed stop order effectiveness completely. What the governor’s school safety plan turned into was not a compromise at all.”
The stop orders would allow family members to petition a judge to forcibly remove weapons from somebody temporarily. Harb says it’s crucial for teachers to be included in those stop orders. Students and teachers at Santa Fe have said they were not surprised by who the shooter was, but those outside the classroom walls were stunned to find that someone they thought was a nice boy had been the killer.
“[The school shootings are happening] because it’s too easy to buy a gun,” Harb says. “It’s really a multi-faceted issue, but it really comes down to the fact that a 17-year-old who is going through quite a lot is able to go and get a weapon, body armor, pipe bombs and go to a school and kill people. That is the issue.”
March for Our Lives will hold a candlelight vigil for the victims in the Santa Fe shooting in front of the capitol building at 7 p.m. on May 21. Harb says there will be descriptions of the victims, a 10 minute moment of silence and a prayer for closure.
For more information on March for Our Lives, go to marchforourlivesaz.org.