- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 29, 2018

As Will Riley watched students stage this year’s walkouts for gun control, he grew frustrated with the message that his generation was somehow united against the Second Amendment.

“I’m seeing people saying, ‘We need to do something, we’ve got to enact some kind of legislation because this is for the kids.’ Well, I’m also the kids, and I don’t like that,” Mr. Riley told the Washington Times. “And there are other people like me. The other kids haven’t spoken yet.”

The 18-year-old senior from Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, New Mexico, decided to do something about it by launching Stand for the Second, a May 2 school walkout designed to give a voice to “the other kids,” namely those who support the Second Amendment.

“We’re getting generalized. Our generation’s being defined,” said Mr. Riley, whose website is StandfortheSecond.com. “And I think we have an obligation to define ourselves.”

Stand for the Second comes as the first national student walkout aimed at supporting gun rights in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which touched off a wave of campus gun-control activism.

Mr. Riley is encouraging students to stage 16-minute walkouts on campus after coordinating with local police and working with school administrators to make sure the protests don’t conflict with testing.

So far, walkouts are being planned by students in about 300 schools from 42 states, based on the online map operated by Tea Party Patriots, which is helping Mr. Riley with organization.

That’s significant but still short of the 2,000-plus schools involved in the National School Walkout events on March 14, which had help from Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, and April 20, backed by the progressive advocacy group Indivisible.

“Since students are being so vocal on this issue, I think it’s important that we get our voice out,” said Mr. Riley.

Another reason for the walkout: To see if the public schools provide the same support and accommodations to pro-gun students as did their anti-gun counterparts.

“On the right, they’re saying, ‘Why are you doing a school walkout, because going to interfere with education?’” said Mr. Riley.

“What I would say is that the other walkouts got special treatment from their schools, and so I think it’s important to see that we get the same treatment, because otherwise it’s viewpoint discrimination,” he said. “And that’s a big problem and we should draw attention to if that happens.”

There’s already evidence of bias. The California student who organized the April 11 pro-life walkout said his school refused to provide the same lesson flexibility and equipment that the gun-control protesters received.

“It just confirms for me that there is a political double standard, at least in my school district, but I’m still going to be out there,” said Rocklin High School student Brendan Gillespie prior to the event, which drew students from about 200 high schools and 80 colleges.

A week ago, parents in a half-dozen cities pulled their children out of school for the one-day Sex Ed Sit Out to protest the increasingly “graphic, gender-bending” sex-education curriculum.

Even though he’s a Second Amendment supporter, Mr. Riley said he doesn’t actually own a firearm.

“I’m really not as concerned with me getting to keep my guns, because I don’t have any, but I consider this to be an issue that affects the future of our country,” he said. “It’s a constitutional issue.”

A few middle schools are participating, but he said he’s actively discouraging elementary schools from taking part, even though the gun-control walkouts saw some elementary kids and even kindergarteners take part, with an assist from their teachers.

“I don’t think they [elementary students] are going to have independent political ideas,” Mr. Riley said. “I don’t want to use them as pawns in this debate.”

The gun-control walkouts called for students to leave class for 17 minutes, one minute for each of those killed at Parkland, although thousands of kids left campus for #Enough rallies in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere featuring prominent Democrats.

Why 16 minutes for Stand for the Second? Mr. Riley, who plans to attend Texas Tech or George Mason University in the fall, said the time frame was chosen mainly to keep the disruption to a minimum.

“The #Enough walkouts, they were often encouraged or at least really condoned by the school administrators,” he said. “We wanted to say, ‘Look, we want to be represented as well, but we don’t want to disrupt class, so we’re not going to ask for as much.’”

He also has a message for student participants: “I’m telling everyone, don’t leave campus. We’re going to get our voices heard. This isn’t about you ditching class, this is about our constitutional rights.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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