The father of one of the Parkland Florida shooting victims, Ryan Petty, was at the Utah Capitol today. The legislature voted unanimously to make April “kindness month” in honor of the 17 victims, including Petty’s daughter.
Ryan Petty said he is touched by Utah’s willingness to honor victims like his 14-year-old daughter Alaina.
Petty has been an active voice in the past few weeks, advocating for change so that, as he puts it, he is the last father to endure this tragedy. He says finding solutions is tricky because the conversation usually veers towards gun control.
“That’s a contentious issue, that drives division, it forces us into our corners and we don’t find common ground," Petty said. "And then the next school shooting happens.”
Just this week the Florida legislature approved a bill that will increase the age of gun buyers from 18 to 21 and improve school safety measures.
“Had it been in place three weeks ago, I wouldn’t be standing here today," said Petty.
In those three weeks Petty has been leaning on his faith to get through.
“Our family has been comforted by the knowledge that we will see Alaina again," Petty said, "It doesn’t make the mornings any easier. We miss her.”
Petty and his family are Mormon, and he says that while Utah isn’t their home it’s particularly easy relating to so many members of his faith.