OPINION: Gov. Ducey forges own path on gun control
In the wake of the tragic Parkland High School shooting, and a new height of gun deaths in the country, governors all across the country have been forced to take a stand and act on the issue of gun control. With over 15,000 people dying just last year from incidents involving firearms, it is becoming impossible to ignore the havoc spreading across the country. Solutions to the continual loss of life from guns differ radically from state to state.
As a potential bump-stock ban is being discussed in some state chambers, USA Today reported that many Texas school districts decided to arm their teachers.
But in Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey is bucking the Republican party line in favor of a much more calculating and bipartisan approach. In a series of tweets in the aftermath of a meeting with policymakers and law enforcement professionals, Ducey laid the foundation for a plan that would “guard the very important Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans, while closing loopholes, protecting public safety and cracking-down on illegal activity."
The final proposal that followed this introduction was more in depth, offering an increase in funding for mental health outreach in schools, the establishment of the Center for School Safety, a tip-line that will listen to and report any information on potential threats students share, and the creation of the Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP), an order placed by law enforcement officials to bar an individual who has displayed violent or unstable behavior from purchasing a firearm. This expansion is important, as Arizona state law does not currently prohibit an individual who is showing signs of intent to harm either themselves or others from buying a gun.
Further into the proposal Gov. Ducey also includes a provision to expand police presence near schools as part of a volunteer program, where officers could perform their administrative tasks and responsibilities on campus or in their vehicle. This means that, should an event occur, the police response time would be immediate.
Noticeably absent from his proposal is the almost nationwide GOP issue of arming teachers, and Ducey has in fact come out on record against the idea, saying that teachers should focus on educating their students. By including law enforcement presence on campus as part of a volunteer and indirectly support position, Ducey hopes that students will not have to risk the government training educators on how to use a firearm when there is already a professional with experience capable of assisting.
The violence and outrage in response to the Parkland high school shooting triggered nationwide walkouts, affecting schools in every state, including many in Arizona. Student sit-ins and walkouts to raise awareness for gun control and the victims of the shooting seemed to grab the attention of Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has done a complete political 180 towards gun control and has instead come down strongly against arming teachers and in favor of further restrictions when it comes to purchasing a gun.
Once the darling of the National Rifle Association, Scott is now proposing a longer waiting period before one can leave a store with a gun, banning controversial bump stocks outright, and raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old, all points that make Ducey uncomfortable. Although both governors are bucking party politics in favor of finding a solution to the home grown crisis that does not deny Americans their Second Amendment rights, Ducey is much less willing to go so far out ahead of public opinion or cross into what he believes is the federal government's territory.
Democrats stand uniformly against the measures supported by the Trump White House, and while in a normal year Republicans would likely flock to the policies of the president, this is no normal year. Gun control has been a sore spot for the GOP for years, and in the past several months more moderate or independent-minded policymakers have been more interested in finding a solution away from politics to protect the lives of their fellow citizens.
Republicans are currently divided. There are those like Texas Governor Greg Abbott , who are in favor of expanding access to guns, and those such as Scott and Ducey, who think the only way to protect both American’s rights and safety is to reform the system and close the gaps that get innocent people killed. In our current political climate, with Republicans holding almost 70 of 99 state chambers, the fate of the Republican party will decide the national response to one of the most controversial battles between safety and rights.
Alec Scott is a sophomore who is studying Political Science and German Studies. He volunteered for the 2014 Ron Barber Congressional Campaign. Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter.
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