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Arizona Teenage Republicans chair steps down, says Republicans must reform gun laws

"I am not against the second amendment, I am not against people owning guns, but I am against students and adults in all aspects of our community being gunned down."

PHOENIX - The Chairman of the Arizona Teenage Republicans announced Wednesday he is stepping down from his position until Republicans respond to gun violence.

Jacob Martinez, a 16-year-old Dobson High School student, joined a group of other students at the Arizona Sate Capitol Wednesday, the same day as the National Student Walkout.

Outside the Capitol, Martinez said his decision to step down was based on the Arizona Republican party's inability to address gun reform legislation.

"I am not against the second amendment, I am not against people owning guns, but I am against students and adults in all aspects of our community being gunned down because we don’t like to get together, work across the lines and figure out these issues like human beings," Martinez said at a press conference.

Students and allies from the group "Phx March for Our Lives" stood behind Martinez as he spoke. About 50 students rallied against gun violence for most of the day at the State Capitol. The group called for universal background checks before gun sales, a ban on bump stocks and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders and the mentally ill.

Martinez said the students have repeatedly requested to meet with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, but were denied.

"The Republicans have decided to make this an issue that they don’t want to address," Martinez said.

Martinez also said Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard denied the request for a 17-minute moment of silence to honor the shooting victims from Parkland, Florida. 12 News has reached out to both Ducey's and Mesnard's offices regarding this and is awaiting a response.

"Today, we saw a blatant form of disrespect from the Republicans when our messages were being read," Martinez said. "Instead of facing us, standing in the chamber and hearing our message, they retreated to the members lounge and wouldn't even come out for the moment of silence."

According to Martinez's Linkedin page, he has been the chairman of the Arizona Teenage Republicans since May 2017. In 2015, he founded American Youth in Politics, a nonpartisan group focused on educating and engaging young people in politics.

"This polarization and this blatant disrespect of this issue and our young people is why our country is so divided," Martinez said.

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