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Arizona Democrats ask Ducey to recall Legislature to address school safety

Local high school students hold a "die-in" in the latest protest against gun violence at the Arizona Capitol Friday, April 20, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Saying it was “a moment for political courage,” Arizona Democrats made a formal request to the governor Friday to call the Legislature back into session to address gun violence and school safety.

The message was sent to Gov. Doug Ducey while details were still emerging about a shooting at a Texas high school that morning that left 10 dead.

The letter, signed by Democratic state House leaders Rebecca Rios, Randall Friese and Charlene Fernandez, called out the Republican governor for a school safety plan that was watered down and then shelved during this year’s session.

“This is a moment for political courage,” the message said. “You now have another opportunity to lead. Please consider this a formal request to call the Legislature back into special session immediately to address gun violence and school safety.”

Ducey introduced the proposal in March, but state Senate Republicans took out a major component that would have allowed family members or school officials to ask a judge to remove guns from a person at risk of committing a mass shooting.

Democrats were unhappy that their suggestions and the voices of student protesters were ignored.

The Legislature adjourned earlier this month without taking action on the plan.

After the session, Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News he was disappointed the plan didn’t advance.

“It didn’t get as far as it should, but we were able to do something around behavior and mental health,” he said. “But I do think we need tools inside schools.”

Here is the complete text of the letter:

Dear Governor Ducey,

Another eight lives lost, at least. This time the deadly school shooting occurred at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas. It was the 22nd school shooting in 2018, and the third in past seven days, according to CNN.

This morning you offered prayers for the Santa Fe community. Governor, prayers are not enough.

During this past legislative session, thousands of brave and inspiring young high school students from around Arizona rallied the broader community to demand action to prevent gun violence and make their schools safer. You promised to lead. But your plan took none of the suggestions from our caucus or the students and was watered down by the powerful gun lobby to the point of counter productivity. And even then, it was shelved before the legislature adjourned for the year. This is a moment for political courage. You now have another opportunity to lead. Please consider this a formal request to call the Legislature back into special session immediately to address gun violence and school safety.

There is nearly universal public support for stronger gun violence prevention measures around the nation and in Arizona. And we firmly believe there is majority support in the Arizona Legislature for common-sense reforms like background checks for firearm purchases (including at gun shows), and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) that will actually work. But this time your approach must be bi-partisan and inclusive.

The failure to act after the Tucson shooting in 2011 was a travesty for our state. We have new leaders now. Let’s work together now before something catastrophic happens again in Arizona. Our kids deserve to be safe at school. Our constituents deserve to be safe in public places.

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