SCHOOL SAFETY WILL ALSO BE ON THE AGENDA AS THE MEETING TAKES PLACE JUST DAYS AFTER EIGHT STUDENTS AND TWO TEACHERS WERE KILLED IN A DEADLY MASS-SHOOTING AT A TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL. THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE DID NOT TAKE UP GOVERNOR DUCEY'S PROPOSED SCHOOL SAFETY PLAN OR "ANY" SIGNIFICANT LEGISLATION DEALING WITH GUN VIOLENCE. THAT LACK OF PROGESS HAS ADVOCATES FOR GUN SAFETY URGING THE GOVERNOR TO CALL THE LEGISLATURE INTO SPECIAL SESSION TO TRY TO DO SOMETHING TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS. AMONG THE GROUPS DEMANDING ACTION IS THE STUDENT-LED "MARCH FOR OUR LIVES," AND JOINING US NOW IS JORDON HARB, THE CO-CHAIR OF "MARCH FOR OUR LIVES ARIZONA." GOOD TO SEE YOU. THANKS FOR JOINING US.
JORDON HARB: GOOD TO SEE YOU.
TED SIMONS: YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT THE TEXAS SHOOTING?
JORDON HARB: IT WAS GRIEF. OVERWHELMING GRIEF. I CRIED THAT MORNING AND MULTIPLE TIMES THAT DAY. ONE THING DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS SHOOTING THAN THE OTHERS, I FELT OVERWHELMING ANGER AND FRUSTRATION. THAT'S ALL I HEARD THROUGHOUT THE CLASSROOMS THROUGHOUT THE DAY. NOT JUST GRIEF AND SADNESS, BUT ANGER. AFTER MILLIONS OF PEOPLE MARCHED THE STREAKS, OCCUPIED THE CAPITOL BUILDING E-MAILED COULD WANTLESS TIMES, TEN PEOPLE ARE STILL DEAD.
TED SIMONS: WHAT IS IT LIKE AT A HIGH SCHOOL THESE DAYS?
JORDON HARB: IT'S SCARY. EVERY STUDENT IN AMERICA SHARES A COMMON FEAR IN THE CLASSROOM. THAT'S SOMETHING YOU CAN RELATE TO WITH ANY STUDENT IN AMERICA.
TED SIMONS: YOU SAID YOU ARE THE KIDS BEING SLAUGHTERED AGAIN AND AGAIN PRAYING FOR THOSE IN SANTA FE, TALKING TO POLITICIANS LIKE THOSE IN THE GOVERNMENT, DON'T HAVE THE GUTS TO TAKE ACTION IN THE CLASSROOMS. TALK TO ME ABOUT WHY THAT TWEET WAS NECESSARY?
JORDON HARB: BECAUSE I'M SEEING THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AND NOTHING. I'M SICK OF -- WE ARE SICK OF THE CYCLE. WE HAVE A SCHOOL SHOOTING, THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS. WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION, THEN THE LEGISLATION COMES UP AND THEN THE NEXT SCHOOL SHOOTING. IT HAPPENS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THE TWEET IS A CALL TO ACTION FOR THE GOVERNOR. HE FAILED TO MEET WITH US AT THE PARKLAND SHOOTING AND HE FAILED TO TAKE AGGRESSION. HE DIDN'T PUSH STOP ORDERS AND BACKGROUND CHECKS AND THINGS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
TED SIMONS: YOU WANT THE GOVERNOR TO TAKE ACTION. WHAT KIND OF ACTION?
JORDON HARB: BRING EVERYONE BACK IN WITH THE FOCUS OF SCHOOL SAFETY. WITH THE TEACHERS STRIKING AND SO MANY ISSUES AT THE END OF THE LEGISLATION, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET IT THROUGH. WE HOPE THE GOVERNOR SEES THE TEN PEOPLE DEAD, SEES THE CRIES FOR HELP AND PUSHES THROUGH REAL REFORM LIKE COMPREHENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECKS, RED FLAG ORDERS AND ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS.
TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN AS STOOD DIDN'T INCLUDE UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS. IF HE CALLS THE LEGISLATIONTURE BACK TO SESSION AND AMONG THE MANY THINGS PASSED, UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS NOT INCLUDED, IS THERE COMPROMISE THAT HAS TO HAPPEN?
JORDON HARB: THERE IS OF COURSE COMPROMISE. WHEN THE GOVERNOR FIRST CAME OUT WITH THE SCHOOL SAFETY PLAN I FELT IT MAYBE A COMPROMISE BECAUSE IT INCLUDED STOP ORDERS AND FUNDING FOR COUNSELORS, BUT WHAT CAME OUT OF THAT WAS NOTHING CLOSE. IT CALLED FOR $9 MILLION, WHICH IS PENNY IN A BUCKET. THE STOP ORDER WAS GUTTED BY THE REPUBLICAN SENATOR SMITH WHO REMOVED STOP ORDER EFFECTIVENESS COMPLETELY.
JORDON HARB: WHAT THE GOVERNOR'S SAFETY PLAN TURNED INTO WAS NOT A STOP ORDER AT ALL. IF SOMEONE IS DEEMED BY POLICE, THEY COULD BE LOCKED UP, PUT AWAY. THERE IS THOUGHT FROM THE DEMOCRATS AS WELL THAT YOU DON'T GO THAT FAR, YOU JUST MAKE SURE THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO FIREARMS. IS THAT A COMPROMISE YOU ARE WILLING TO LOOK AT?
JORDON HARB: TO US, AS LONG AS WE HAVE STOP ORDERS THAT ALLOW A FAMILY MEMBER OR TEACHER TO FORCIBLY REMOVE WEAPONS FROM SOMEONE, THAT IS A VICTORY ITSELF. IF WE ARE ABLE TO REDUCE THE COUNSELOR TO STUDENT RATIO FROM 900 TO ONE TO 50 TO 1 THAT IS A VICTORY. ALL OF THE PEOPLE IN THE SCHOOL KNEW WHO THE SHOOTER WAS BEFORE IT HIT THE NEWSPAPER. EVERYONE KNEW HE WAS GOING TO SHOOT UP THE SCHOOL.
TED SIMONS: THIS YEAR ALONE, WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS HAPPENING?
JORDON HARB: IT'S TOO EASY TO GET A GUN. IT'S REALLY A MULTIFACETED ISSUE. IT COMES DOWN TO THE FACT THAT A 17-YEAR-OLD GOING THROUGH QUITE A LOT IS ABLE TO GET A WEAPON, BODY ARMOR, PIPE BOMBS AND GO TO THE SCHOOL AND KILL PEOPLE. THAT IS THE ISSUE.
TED SIMONS: WHEN YOU HEAR PEOPLE KNEW IT WAS THIS KID. INITIAL NEWS REPORTS SAID HE WAS A QUIET FOOTBALL PLAYER, REGULAR JOE. WHERE IS THE DISCONNECT HERE?
JORDON HARB: THERE IS A CLEAR DISCONNECT OF WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE TO WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE.
TED SIMONS: THE KIDS KNEW?
JORDON HARB: THE KIDS KNEW AS DID THE TEACHERS.
TED SIMONS: LAST POINT BEFORE YOU GO, CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL AT THE STATE CAPITAL.
JORDON HARB: IT'S HAPPENING AT 7:00. WE'LL OFFICIALLY START AS SOON AS THE SUN GOES DOWN. IT WILL INCLUDE A DESCRIPTION OF ALL OF THE VICTIMS, TO HUMANIZE THEM, A MOMENT OF SILENCE AND PRAYER CLOSURE. WE HOPE THE GOVERNOR UNDERSTANDS THIS IS NOT DONE. IF YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE ACTION, THIS IS TIME TO DO IT.
TED SIMONS: JORDAN HARB, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES. GOOD TO SEE YOU. WE APPRECIATE IT. COMING UP LATER, WHY MORE ARIZONANS ARE SAYING GOODBYE TO RETIREMENT AND TRYING OUT A WHOLE NEW CAREER.
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 (@azmfol) 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.