More than 75 students took a day out of their spring vacation to visit the Arizona Legislature today, March 14, 2018, to advocate for safe schools and safe public places.
The students met with lawmakers in the morning and attended the Arizona House Floor Session in the afternoon. During the always-entertaining points of personal privilege, 24 Democrats stood up, introduced three or four of the students, read a short message to lawmakers from one of the students, and repeated their three demands: universal background checks on all gun sales, banning bump stocks, and more counselors not guns in schools.
After 24 introductions, 24 personal student messages to lawmakers and 24 re-statements of their three common and popular demands, Rep. Kirsten Engel (Dem #25) stood up and read a statement about today being the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman-Douglas High School Shooting and slowly read the name and age of each victim. At the end, she asked for 17 minutes of silence, one for each victim.
Speaker Mesnard said that there had been other tragedies, and every tragedy gets only one moment of silence. After a longish moment, Mesnard started the floor session, but the Democrats were still standing. When he realized that we weren’t going to sit, he recessed to allow the gallery to clear. The students all stood up and shouted “Never again!” several times. At the end, one young man shouted that lawmakers should do their jobs and protect them (paraphrasing). Why do Republicans shy away from common sense gun safety laws when they profess to be “pro-life”?
After recess was gaveled in, the Republicans all left, except for one or two stragglers who got stuck on the floor but did not stand with us. It was zen-like as we stood in total silence with the house staff and pages sitting and staring at us, as we all listened to the air conditioner whir. Occasionally during the 17 minutes of total silence, a Republican would peek in the door to see if the 17 minutes was up yet. At the end, we left in silence.