Gun control advocates say they’re voices are going unheard in the statewide discussion about ways to improve school safety.
Nearly two dozen members of the group Moms Demand Action, which advocates for more gun laws, attended a three-hour legislative committee meeting in Little Rock on Monday only to be told they would not be allowed to comment.
“I was very upset, but not terribly shocked,” said Eve Jorgensen, head of the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action.
Jorgensen said members of her group attended the meeting on Monday to give input on ways to make schools more secure.
“We knew they were going to only have pro-gun presentations, all about arming teachers and so we wanted to have a chance to push back and offer some different solutions,” Jorgensen explained.
The committee heard presentation from three pro-gun advocates. Jorgensen said two members of her group had signed up to speak at the end of the meeting.
“They said, well we’re out of time, you’ll have to come back and get on the agenda if you want to be guaranteed time to speak,” Jorgensen said.
“We have not had a public comment section or section on our agenda on any of our meetings whether it’s on school safety or anything else,” explained State Rep. Mark Lowery.
Lowery said the purpose of hte meeting was to hear ideas from experts.
“We’re fact-finding, we’re not inviting political organizations and Moms Demand Action is a political organization, just like the NRA is a political organization and we have not invited them to present,” Lowery said.
“We have facts and you know, we’re ready to talk at a fact-finding meeting, we believe both sides of each issue should be given the chance to be heard,” Jorgensen countered.
Lowery said if the group wants to be heard, they need to be on the agenda.
“I have no problem if Moms Demand Action want to come forward with their own proposal and their own research if they have any, that would be fine at another meeting,” Lowery explained.
“I’m not sure if we’ll get our chance but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it happens,” Jorgensen said.
Lowery said a date has not yet been set for the next meeting but said it will be a months long process.