The student activists are learning how to virtually reach people in their personal social networks and get them civically involved.
Colin Streeter, a junior at Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley, has been interested in gun safety for a while – an effect of constantly hearing about mass shootings on the news. But it was a friend’s invitation for him to join a Students Demand Action virtual summit a few weeks ago that inspired him to get involved.
Now Streeter is a volunteer with Students Demand Action, the youth offshoot of Everytown for Gun Safety. The group announced Monday it has opened a virtual field office in Arizona geared toward voter registration.
“We know that Arizona lawmakers have had a lot of time to stand up for gun safety in recent years,” Streeter told The Copper Courier. “And we think that it is our job to really keep pushing that forward because we know that this pandemic can cause … a pause in what’s happening.”
The new campaign is part of a larger $1.5 million effort to register 100,000 young voters in battleground states across the U.S. Arizona’s goal is to register 4,500 voters.
So far, nearly 20 Arizona high school and college students, including Streeter, are using online tools like Zoom and Slack to communicate and learn how to reach people in their personal social networks to help them register to vote and learn about key gun safety issues.
Students Demand Action said it is still actively recruiting and plans to shift to in-person efforts, like voter registration drives on college campuses, once it’s safe to do so again.
An OH Predictive Insights poll from August 2019 found that a majority of Arizona voters supported tougher gun laws. The survey found that 54% of respondents said current laws on gun sales and ownership in Arizona are not strict enough, while 37% said they should be kept the same. Less than 5% said current gun laws are too strict.
Streeter said it’s “really motivating” to know he can make a difference on an issue that affects so many students across the country.
“I know that personally me and my friends have talked about school shootings … like Parkland,” he said. “We’ve kind of talked about what that situation would look like [at our school].”
“We know that this generation has been surrounded by this whole gun violence crisis, so we know that it is an important topic for [young people]” Streeter said. “We talk about how their vote matters and how they have the power to elect leaders that care about their safety.”
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