PHOENIX (AP) — High school students 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 at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
The students were met at the Capitol by about a dozen 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 to be imminent threats. It doesn’t include universal background checks for gun purchases.
The measure won the support of the National Rifle Association after being amended to get the backing of Republican lawmakers.