- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2018

They didn’t get the same wall-to-wall media coverage or celebrity plugs, but the thousands of students who walked out Wednesday for the Second Amendment demonstrated that not every teen agrees with David Hogg.

Students in more than 40 states held 16-minute rallies at their schools as part of Wednesday’s Stand for the Second walkout, challenging the narrative pushed by student activists like Mr. Hogg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others that the younger generation is united in its support for gun control.

In photos and video posted online, clusters of students held up U.S. flags and pro-Trump banners, sang the national anthem, and waved handwritten signs with messages like, “Gun control only stops good guys from getting guns.”

Will Riley, the 18-year-old New Mexico senior who organized Stand for the Second, said more than 500 schools had registered to participate.

At Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, New Mexico, he said about 600 students walked out for the final 16 minutes of the school day in order to minimize the classroom disruption and ensure that freshmen taking standardized tests could participate.

“Ours was one of the bigger ones, but we had multiple reports of schools having several hundred students participating, and that’s just what people are sharing with us,” Mr. Riley said.

At Grant Ledge High School in Michigan, an honor guard of veterans from the local American Legion-VFW Post 3293 arrived to support about 100 students who gathered outside by the flagpole.

At the other end were kids who said they were the only ones at their schools to participate.

“We had a couple of people who said they walked out alone, took a selfie, and sent it to us,” Mr. Riley said. “I think those people are very brave because they’re clearly going against what a lot of their fellow students believe in, and they probably endured a lot of ridicule.”

Stand for the Second came in response to the student walkouts for gun control sparked by the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead.

The National School Walkout events on March 14 and April 20 drew massive media coverage as tens of thousands of students walked out, in some cases marching off campus and attending rallies at state capitals and the U.S. Capitol.

More than 2,000 schools signed up for each of those walkouts. The first drew organizational help from Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, the second from the progressive group Indivisible, while Tea Party Patriots aided Stand for the Second with a website tracking school participation.

“Across America, students are standing up for the #SecondAmendment today!” tweeted Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin.

NRATV host Grant Stinchfield said he opposed the idea of school walkouts whatever their political message, saying, “I don’t like them, period,” but also criticized the imbalance in media coverage.

“It didn’t get the hours of media coverage with helicopters and days of news coverage before the event, but it happened,” Mr. Stinchfield said. “And I want you to know there are strong voices among the younger generation ready to stand for our rights.”

Most of the television coverage came from local stations, with mentions on CNN and ABC, while the reporting on Fox News was more extensive.

Mr. Riley said one of his motivations for Stand for the Second was to ensure that schools gave equal treatment to both sides, adding that he felt his walkout received more pushback than the gun control protests.

Foes of the walkouts have cited fears over student safety, which tragically came to pass at the April 20 National School Walkout.

An 11-year-old boy, Johnathan Benko, was struck by a truck and killed in El Paso, Texas, as he and other students left campus and crossed a highway after filing out of school for the walkout.

“I don’t think it is great to walk out of school. I think it puts kids in danger. I said this when protests against the Second Amendment were underway and I say it now,” Mr. Stinchfield said.

“But when I do see a generation of young people add their voice to a conversation on gun control from both sides that is underway right now in this country, I don’t ever want to ignore them, as I said, from either side,” he said.

The Parkland students who have become the face of the student gun-control movement had no immediate public comment on the walkout, although Mr. Hogg tweeted, “The young people will win,” apparently not referring to Stand for the Second.

Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland student who has been outspoken in his support for the Second Amendment, said he disagreed with the walkout because “disrupting 1000s of classrooms across the country isn’t the answer.”


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