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Tucson Voices: Jarrett Benkendorfer

Ebony Bailey |
January 27, 2011 | 12:52 p.m. PST


For Jarrett Benkendorfer, a student government representative at the University of Arizona, the mass shooting in Tucson on Jan. 8 was much more than a story he read on the news, it was a tragedy that affected his entire community. 

Benkendorfer was still at home in Phoenix for the winter break when the shooting occurred about nine miles from his school. He first heard about it through Facebook and tried to contact his friend and student government colleague, Daniel Hernandez, but Hernandez said he could not talk because he was with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

“So many people from the U of A were there; I knew Daniel was there and it was scary to know how close it was,” Benkendorfer said. “Daniel is just a junior at the U of A and he saved her life.”

Students from the U of A were among the first to take action after the shooting occurred, Benkendorfer said. Immediately afterwards, he said it was the students who started the vigils for the victims.

He also said more than 3,000 students got online and started an anti-protest against the Westboro Baptist Church’s plan to protest funerals of the victims.

“I feel a big sense of pride now for the U of A,” Benkendorfer said. “In general, the city just came together, and it is not just Tucson that is united but the entire state of Arizona.”

Gun control policy is now more frequently being discussed around campus, Benkendorfer said. He described the campus as generally liberal, and argues that student views on the stricter gun control policy is an over reaction to the shooting.

“Don’t try to make an agenda about what went on,” he said.

Residents of Arizona are allowed to carry a gun in the state without a permit. Benkendorfer argued this law is in place for people to use the arms as self defense.

“There were 19 people and unfortunately nobody was carrying a gun,” he said. “I don’t want to see gun control taken too far, but that’s where it looks like it’s going so far.”



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