Doug Ducey Announces 'School Safety' Proposals; No Mention of Gun Control

On Thursday, in an announcement where the words "gun control" were notably absent, Governor Doug Ducey said that he'll roll out a plan to address school safety.

His ideas include adding more officers to schools and a process to restrict potentially threatening individuals from obtaining guns. He did at least mention enhanced background checks, which are opposed by many gun enthusiasts.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and a huge nationwide push for gun control, primarily led by teenagers tired of the endless cycle of school violence. Teenagers staged a sit-in outside of Ducey's office on Wednesday, while the governor's staff said that he was unavailable to meet with them.

“We are building an aggressive plan that address [sic] all these issues around school safety,” Ducey wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Arizona can lead the nation in tackling this – and in a way that is non-partisan. We’ve done this on other issues, and we can do it again.”

Note the emphasis on "nonpartisan." During his time in office, Ducey has consistently supported legislation from the pro-gun state Legislature.

In 2016, Ducey signed a pair of bills designed to scuttle even minor gun restrictions in Arizona.

Senate Bill 1266 blocked any attempt by cities or counties to regulate guns, with the threat of thousands of dollars in fines. The other law, House Bill 2338, said that secondary schools and universities have to permit gun owners to carry their weapons on public right-of-ways near school grounds.

Both laws fit a signature move by the Arizona Legislature, where extremely conservative lawmakers in the Capitol tell slightly more progressive cities and counties what they can and can't do — in this case, blocking any local attempts to prevent mass shootings via gun control.

This week, Ducey hinted at some type of system that would prevent threatening individuals from purchasing guns or that would take their firearms away.

"In the overwhelming majority of the deadliest mass shootings in the last 20 years, the shooter exhibited obvious signs of being a threat. Why not have laws and a process to restrict these individuals from possessing or obtaining guns?" Ducey wrote.

It appears he will push for some version of enhanced background checks.

The governor also said that Arizona needs a "centralized tipline" to report threats to school safety, and cited the failure of Florida authorities to fully investigate concerns about the former student who would carry out the mass shooting at the school in Parkland. Additionally, Ducey called for increasing the presence of law enforcement at schools, including more funding and training for school resource officers, who are essentially campus cops that serve on school grounds.

Ducey said that he has held recent listening sessions with students, teachers, parents, and state officials, including Attorney General Mark Brnovich and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.

While more detailed proposals are on the way, at the outset this plan is almost certainly going to meet criticism, if not outright anger — especially when you keep in mind Ducey's history of support for lax gun laws.

His proposal to put more officers in schools will definitely meet resistance from organizations like Puente, which has pushed to reduce the number of school resource officers. The grassroots team of high schoolers organizing for gun control measures in Phoenix also said that they're opposed to officers and armed teachers in school; instead, they are asking for counselors and psychologists.

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