Whiny Republicans respond to student protests at the Arizona Capitol


Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley covered this story from her perspective the other day, Republicans Recess as Students & #AZHouse Dems Stand in Silence for Gun Violence Victims, and now Howard Fischer reports on the GOP perspective the following day, Republicans accuse Democrats of political theater over gun legislation:

A Prescott Republican lawmaker lashed out at Democrats Thursday, accusing them of being more interested in political “theater” than solving the question of gun violence in schools.

Rep. Noel Campbell said all lawmakers are upset about the shootings at Majory Stoneman High School in Florida, and he acknowledged the anger and frustration of students who walked out of their classrooms a day earlier on the one-month anniversary of that event.

“But I have a feeling some of you down here just want to be seen and not do anything,” Campbell said in his floor speech, citing not only the presence of students in the gallery on March 14 but also Democrats taking close to an hour to introduce the students by name and call attention to them and their demands for changes in state gun laws.

That, Campbell said, is not the way “to get things done.”

“It hardens positions,” he said, with the “theater” of Wednesday resulting in many Republicans choosing to leave the floor rather than sit through the introduction of individual students and the Democrat floor speeches.

“You drove us out of here,” Campbell said, saying Democrats are not interested in working with Republicans.

“You want to make an example of us. You want to embarrass us,” he said. “Well, see how effective that is.”

Campbell said if Democrats are interested in legislative solutions, they should forego these kinds of public spectacles and instead work with Republicans behind closed doors.

Two points for Mr. Campbell. Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson) and Democratic cosponsors introduced a package of gun safety measures earlier in the session. No Republican signed onto the bills as a cosponsor, and none of the bills received a hearing in the GOP-controlled legislature.

So quite the opposite, Mr. Campbell, if Republicans are interested in legislative solutions (you clearly are not from your comments), they should be working with Democrats who actually introduced the bills and who want to accomplish something. And what’s this crap about working “behind closed doors”? I know that’s how the GOP prefers to do business, but the legislature is supposed to work in open committee with public hearings. Hold a public hearing!

And as far as making an example of you and wanting to embarrass you, Yes! Exactly! This is the civil rights movement tactic of name it and shame it to publicly shame people for their bad behavior to get them to change their behavior. You should feel shame for your inaction on these gun safey bills. You own it.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson, responded to Rep. Campbell’s whining and said that his words ring hollow.

“We are not given the opportunity,” she responded.

Gonzales pointed out that Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson, introduced several measures this year he says would address the issue of gun violence. They include allowing judges to order the emergency removal of weapons from homes of those who are considered a danger and closing the “gun show loophole” that allows weapons to be transferred without checking whether the buyer is legally allowed to own a weapon.

None of them got even a committee hearing.

She also pointed out that, when Friese used a procedural maneuver to bring the measure on background checks directly to the floor so it could be voted, it was defeated in the Republican-controlled House on a party-line vote.

And that, Gonzales said, leaves Democrats with the one tool they have: floor speeches.

“We do not grandstand just to grandstand,” she said. “We are here to make a difference, just like you are, Rep. Campbell.”

Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, echoed the sentiment.

“We are not afforded the same opportunities as you are,” she said. And Fernandez said there’s a good reason there were students at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“When they come and sit in the gallery they expect us to express their views,” she said, reminding lawmakers that each of them got elected because of the constituents. “Those kids wanted their voices to be heard.”

This just inspired more whining from Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, who had this conspiracy theory to offer about what happened Wednesday.

“In my view, I think a lot of those students were played,” he said.

Kern said he is sure the students who showed up were real in their emotions.

“I’m sure they want to go to safe schools,” he said. But Kern questioned the commitment of Democrats to that issue.

He said during the time Barack Obama was president, there were 14 mass shootings. At the same time, Kern said, the Democrats had control of both the U.S. House and Senate.

“If they were so concerned about guns at that time, they could have pushed through gun legislation the same way that they pushed through Obamacare,” he said.

We are talking about what the Arizona legislature is going to do. Republicans have been in control of the Arizona legislature for the past 50 years during the entire period of school shootings from the year following the University of Texas tower shooting on August 1, 1966 until the present day. During that period of time, Republicans have consistently passed laws to block any regulation of guns and ammunition, often in defiance of federal laws. So it is fair to question your concern about guns and the safety of our children in schools and other public places. What are you going to do, Mr. Kern?


  1. This was all very strange as it unfolded. Campbell was looking directly at Rep. Isela Blanc and me. This is the second time he publicly told us that we would be more effective if we met with Republicans behind closed doors and didn’t talk so much on the floor where everything is videotaped and on public record. Didn’t he get the memo that people don’t like backroom deals? At one point Speaker Pro Tempore Shope had to warn Campbell that he was getting inappropriate.

    One of his big complaints was that his constituents were calling him and asking why he didn’t show respect for the dead and stand for 17 minutes. Actions have consequences.

    Rep. Wenona Benally spoke up and chided Campbell for trying to shut the women up. While she was talking Rep. Bob Thorpe did a point of order and tried to shut Benally up! Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales was great when she talked about being disinfranchized by the GOP. It went on from there… Good times.

    • Thanks Pamela and AZ for the great reporting.

      I saw some clips of this and it was not the AZ GOP’s shining moment.

      For the record, I don’t believe they were hiding from the kids, they were hiding from the NRA.


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