Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: Political posturing does nothing to advance debate on school safety

No one should be surprised that political posturing is taking priority over meaningful debate as policymakers struggle to find solutions to gun violence in America, particularly in our nation’s schools.

Prescott Republican Noel Campbell took some of his House colleagues to task late last week after Democrat lawmakers introduced a long line of students who wanted to speak on the mass shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Campbell referred to the student speeches as political theater and a public spectacle.

Democrats, in turn, said the student presentations were necessary because GOP powerbrokers have shut them out on allowing a fair debate on gun control issues.

All of which might be a moot point given the comments made by Gov. Doug Ducey concerning gun control legislation in Arizona. The governor is adamant in his opposition to new Florida laws that allow for:

• A three-day waiting period before someone can leave a gun dealer with a weapon.

• Raising the age to purchase any sort of weapon to 21.

• Banning ‘’bump stocks’’ that can effectively convert a legal semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun.

Further, Ducey is opposed to any laws that prevent people from buying weapons at gun shows without any proof that they are legally entitled to own them.

Meaningful change does not appear to be on the horizon in Arizona.

Locally, however, Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter and Sheriff Scott Mascher have planned meetings in Cottonwood (9 a.m. to noon April 6 at 1 N. Willard St.) and Prescott (1 to 4 p.m. April 13 at the Yavapai County Education Service Agency, 2970 Centerpointe E. Drive) to hear agency concerns about school safety.

Carter said that he hopes to hear the concerns, fears, suggestions and solutions from representatives of schools, police agencies, probation officers, mental health professionals, emergency room personnel and others about the actions that can be taken locally to ensure schools are absolute safe zones.

“We want to hear from the agencies that will have to deal with it, that will have to fund any changes to ensure our schools are safe,” he said. 

Carter said his role, and that of the sheriff, will be to listen. The sessions are not designed to be forums on gun control, but rather a think-tank on how we can keep worst-case scenarios from becoming reality in the Verde Valley and Yavapai County.

Unlike the political posturing taking place at the State Capitol, the local meetings will be solution-focused.

No doubt, that is the approach on which policymakers down in Phoenix should focus their attention.

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