Arizona group takes push for gun reform, voter registration on road

Jul 20, 2018, 12:41 PM
(Cronkite News Photo/Jordan Dafnis)...
(Cronkite News Photo/Jordan Dafnis)
(Cronkite News Photo/Jordan Dafnis)

PHOENIX – March for Our Lives, the student-led movement for sensible gun-law reforms, hosted a “Breakfast for Our Lives” on Thursday and announced a summer bus tour to educate and register young voters.

This summer, March for Our Lives launched a 20-state bus tour, but because it does not include Arizona, local activists started their own. The breakfast also served as a fundraiser to pay for bus rentals and drivers. Students are using the tour as an opportunity to promote voter outreach and start new chapters across the state. The idea is to elect representatives who support public demands for effective gun laws.

Toni St John, the Chandler Hamilton High School student who organized an unauthorized walkout by 600 students on April 20 – the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting – told the breakfast how she was galvanized by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“It came out of this place of anger and sadness and want for change” she said.

Her actions resulted in a week of detention, an experience she was unfamiliar with, but the mission to stop gun violence outweighed the consequences, she said.

March for Our Lives gained momentum after an enormous demonstration March 24 in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country.

The movement’s Arizona leaders complain Gov. Doug Ducey has not met to discuss their issues, but Cronkite News reporter Jordan Dafnis reached out for comment and received this response from a spokesman:

“The governor has made school safety a priority. He proactively met with students, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, and mental-health experts to craft a school-safety plan. It’s disappointing this common-sense plan did not pass last session, but he will continue working to get it done.”

Gerry Hills, who founded Arizonans for Gun Safety in 1995, told those at Thursday’s breakfast she was encouraged to see young people involved, noting that she’s a “weary warrior” after so many years of activism with few tangible successes.

“No, we don’t have to accept this as our future, and we don’t accept this as our reality. There is a different way,” Hills said. “We’re going to make sure this different way is going to be taken.”

Arizonans for Gun Safety is a fiscal sponsor of March for Our Lives.

“If our legislators wont seriously look at those common sense reforms, then we’re going to elect people that will,” Hills said.

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Arizona group takes push for gun reform, voter registration on road