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4:21 AM Thu, Nov. 22nd

Prescottonians to march in solidarity with students everywhere

Saturday’s March for Our Lives focuses on changes in gun safety

Pat Beitel, left, and Jan Suderman create posters to carry in Saturday’s March for Our Lives taking place at noon on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza. (Dee Cohen/Courtesy)

Pat Beitel, left, and Jan Suderman create posters to carry in Saturday’s March for Our Lives taking place at noon on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza. (Dee Cohen/Courtesy)

On Saturday, Prescott joins more than 837 events worldwide in the March for Our Lives. Sponsored by Prescott Indivisible, Yavapai Democrats, Democratic Women of Prescott, and MadShirtz, the March takes place from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza.

March for Our Lives (MFOL) came about after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead and 17 wounded on Feb. 14. The MFOL website states this event is, “a call to the nation’s leaders to take action and pass legislation on gun safety in schools.”

“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school,” the website continues. “We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”

For Prescott resident Maria Lynam, this issue and the March are deeply personal.

“My teenaged grandson was at a premiere of the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ in a suburb of Denver in 2012,” Lynam said. “When I heard that a mass shooting occurred inside a movie theater in this area, I panicked and called him, his mother and his friends until I found out that he was safe. Fortunately, he was not at that movie house.”

Twelve people were killed that evening and 70 others were injured inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Since then, Lynam has been outspoken on gun control. She believes anyone younger than 21 should not be able to purchase an automatic or semi-automatic weapon; and persons older than 21 should be able to buy one of these weapons only after they have taken an advanced gun safety class.

“I am an advocate of gun ‘control,’ which does not mean removing guns from the general population, but to put common sense laws on the books,” she said.

Prescott Indivisible, a grassroots movement that advocates education, sharing and upholding liberty and justice for all with compassion and a dedication to truth, has a membership of about 850 people, with between 100 and 150 members attending its monthly meetings. Indivisible started nationally in 2017 and now has over 6,000 chapters nationwide.

School safety is not a political issue, the MFOL website states. “There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing.”

Gov. Doug Ducey introduced his Safe Arizona Schools Plan earlier this week. He is calling for, among other things, more mental and behavioral health resources and more school resource officers and law enforcement at schools.

“What I liked about his plan was it added the social and emotional aspect to needed resources,” said Dan Streeter, superintendent of Humboldt Unified School District, March 22.

Unfortunately, these resources will require funding support from the state. Many districts have had to cut counselors and services in the past decade due to cuts in the state budget. HUSD, for instance, has one social worker for the entire district. Counselors at the high school are academic advisors, not behavioral counselors, Streeter said. Districts lack funding to add additional resources suggested by the governor.

For more information on Prescott Indivisible, visit Prescottindivisible.org.