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Utah teens give grades to lawmakers based on gun legislation

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 22:22:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Students against gun violence announced new grades awarded to Utah lawmakers, focusing on who supported gun violence legislation and who did not.

The Parkland shooting in Florida that killed 17 and hurt 17 more traumatized West Highs’ Andoni Telonidis.

“I was having a really difficult time going to school,” Telonidis said.

He and the coalition called “March for our Lives Utah” researched and analyzed gun violence legislation in 2019.

On Wednesday, they released their gun safety voting records of Utah lawmakers.

“Because we represent such a large percentage of the next demographic of voters we have the ability to really change the direction and start to accelerate change,” Telonidis said.

“What we want to see is more data, a little less emotion,” said Clark Aposhian of Utah Shooting Sports Council.

While applauding the teens for getting involved, Aposhian argues they’re not showing the whole picture.

“Just because this group doesn’t agree with their votes, doesn’t mean they voted wrong,” Aposhian said.

Representative Lee Perry, (R) Brigham City, is one of six lawmakers who got an “F” grade. He chairs the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee and says the math is flawed.

Rep. Perry wrote,

“Having reviewed the grades and criteria issued to Representatives and Senators, I have found glaring errors in math and it appears as though they may have targeted the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee as the only members of the house with F grade serve on that committee. One example of an issue is there was one bill that was held in that committee not for lack of the committee’s willingness to hear or take action but due to lack of ability for the sponsor to present and therefore the bill was held and it appears that committee members were dinged for that action do to no fault of their own. I have discussed and shared this information with a fellow representative who also served on that committee and said his votes were the same as mine however he received a C grade so I’m not sure if they have fairly graded legislators. I stand on my reputation for fairness , and public safety legislation that looks out for the safety and security of people in Utah. I have a strong record of defending the Constitutional 2nd amendment rights of the citizens I represent in the State of Utah.”

The students stand by the grades and say they are a starting point for legislators to pursue gun safety solutions. More grades are expected after the 2020 session.