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All But Ducey Attend Gubernatorial Candidate Town Hall On Gun Violence

Four out of five candidates for Arizona governor participated Tuesday night in a town hall on preventing gun violence.

It was presented by the state’s chapter of the student group March For Our Lives.

Candidates gathered at a Paradise Valley synagogue to address students, parents and grandparents directly about how they will deal with gun violence in schools if elected to the state’s highest office.

Democratic candidate and former infantry marksman David Garcia said military-style weapons have no place in public.  

“I think we need to work to make sure that rapid-fire weapons that are really designed to kill a lot of people quickly are not on our streets," he said. "Now, it means that those who have them, for example, options like buy-back programs to make sure we have fewer of them I think are good issues to talk about.”  

Garcia, who is also an educator, said he favors school resource officers on campuses and more counseling for students.  

Republican candidate and former Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he wants to create a faculty and administrator training program.  

“The program trains school personnel to deal with an armed situation, emergency medical, crisis management and for those that are willing, capable and competent to actually carry firearms while they’re there at school,” he said.

Bennett added his opponents’ plans go too far in limiting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and that’s why they would not pass in the state Legislature.

Democratic candidate and current state Senator Steve Farley argued that gun violence doesn’t discriminate between political parties.

“When you look at situations like the Las Vegas shooting, the shooter didn’t care whether the people in the crowd that he was killing were Republican, Democrat or independent, Farley said. "He was shooting indiscriminately — and that’s what’s going on — gun violence affects people of all parties, no matter what."

Farley said he favors universal background checks for all gun sales as a bipartisan approach that has the support of 95 percent of all gun owners.  

Kelly Fryer, Democratic candidate and CEO of the YWCA Southern Arizona, said she wants to see current laws that prosecute careless gun owners enforced if she is elected.  

“There are laws on our books that are not being prosecuted," she said. "If you leave your weapon some place where somebody else can get a hold of it and hurt somebody, you’re going to be arrested and we’re going to prosecute you for endangerment.”

Fryer added that “there will never be guns in schools” under her watch if she becomes governor, referring to opposing plans that would arm school resource officers.

Five seats were placed on the dais for the four candidates who accepted the invitation to speak. One remained empty as Gov. Doug Ducey declined to appear.

His campaign issued the following statement:

"The governor has met with students, teachers, administrators, parents, law enforcement, mental health professionals and more to find solutions that will make our schools safer. Just as he did during the legislative session, Governor Ducey is traveling Arizona talking about his Safe Schools Plan. It's a commonsense plan to make our schools more secure that includes more school resource officers, mental health counselors and cops on campus, all while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. It's time to get it passed."

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.