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Mormon Father Of Parkland Victim Visits Utah's Capitol

Ryan Petty, the father of one of the Parkland Florida shooting victims, speaks to Utah press on Thursday afternoon.

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.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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