Students from Arizona protest gun violence at state Capitol

Apr 20, 2018, 7:08 PM | Updated: 7:08 pm

PHOENIX — High school students from across Arizona occupied the House and Senate lobbies and the governor’s office at the state Capitol Friday in the latest protest against gun violence.

The students with the Phoenix March for Our Lives group rallied on the anniversary of the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. The protest was one of many by students across the country following a February shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.

Over 2,100 walkouts were planned nationally, at least one in every state, according the National School Walkout website. The protests were organized by four students from Ridgefield High School in Connecticut. Lane Murdock, a sophomore, founded the group.

The students were met by close to a dozen of armed gun-rights supporters who waved American flags and used megaphones to shout at them.

Student organizer Jordan Harb criticized the armed protesters as students ate pizza on the Senate lawn and prepared for orchestrated “die-ins” at the Capitol.

“Them bringing weapons is extremely inconsiderate for the survivors and the people who have been affected by gun violence, because they have real PTSD,” Harb said. “And it makes them look bad and rather silly, because we’re just playing music and having fun and they’re here screaming at us that we’re sheep.”

Harb said the students want Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to enact gun violence legislation and include them in negotiations on school safety proposals.

“Too many times, politicians think they can just ride the wave and wait for people to forget about things like this,” Harb said. “But we’re not ready to let that happen.”

Proposed school safety legislation backed by the governor includes more school police officers and a way to take guns from people a judge declares are imminent threats because it doesn’t include universal background checks for gun purchases.

It won the support of the National Rifle Association after being amended to get the backing of Republican lawmakers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Students from Arizona protest gun violence at state Capitol