Yesterday at 10 a.m., pro-Second Amendment students across the country participated in a 16-minute walkout from class as part of a national event backed by the Tea Party Patriots.
The idea was hatched by New Mexico high school senior Will Riley. Riley told USA Today: "I'm watching the news, and I see they're saying, 'We have to do something about this. We have to enact some sort of gun control legislation because this is what the kids are asking for.' And I'm thinking, 'I'm not asking for that.' I look at my friends, and I think, 'They're not asking for that.'" Riley says his event was for pro-Second Amendment students "who feel that they're being misrepresented by the media."
The event received extensive local and national press coverage. Some highlights:
• Los Angeles Times: "The demonstrations were significantly smaller than the National Student Walkouts March 14 and the March for Our Lives 10 days later, with participation in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands. The schools tended to be in rural areas, from Oregon to Pennsylvania."
• Crowds of 200 or more were reported by newspapers in New Mexico, Nebraska, and Illinois, while news outlets in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah reported at least dozens of participants.
• Huffington Post: "We are all not ideologically aligned as much as the media portrays us as such," [Terre Haute senior Lucus] Bendzsa said in an email. "We are, as Kayne West said, 'independent thinkers.' We form our own opinions, and we are stout in what we believe."
• Associated Press: Eddy County, New Mexico, Sheriff Mark Cage named Riley an honorary deputy "for his efforts in organizing the walkouts."
• Deseret News (Salt Lake City): Student organizer Collin Thorup at Hunter High School said, "We can speak for ourselves. There's two sides for this. A big problem we see right now [is] we feel everyone thinks the teens are only one-sided since the Parkland shooting survivors have been talking." After Thorup declined to participate in the March 14 walkout, he said, "I stated my opinions a few times and got a lot of hate for that, saying I didn't support what they were doing." The newspaper adds that "Thorup suspects that many more students feel the same way but they fear being bullied and ostracized by peers."
• Greenwich Time (Connecticut): Greenwich High School sophomore Anastasia Zygmont, one of the organizers, "said gun-rights advocates at the school were not being heard in a larger debate dominated by gun-reform advocates. 'A lot of the time at Greenwich High School, Republicans are suppressed and we're not allowed to voice our own opinions,' Zygmont said….Co-organizer Juliana Salamone, a senior, said she tried to publicize the event on a student-moderated GHS Facebook group but she was blocked and her post was deleted. 'The school is very liberal,' Zygmont said. 'It has very liberal views. The principal is liberal and often times saying something, the littlest thing, that could 'trigger' somebody, is frowned upon.'"
• Yakima Herald (Washington): "The local demonstration's coordinator, Aubrie Bosworth, a junior at Eisenhower High School, said she chose to walk out of school without alerting school officials after seeing their response to the walkouts on March 14…'When there was the nationally planned walkout, my school decided to do a mandatory assembly and put security guards on all of the doors during the time that the walkout was supposed to go on…I was offended that they'd stopped the kids from exercising their First Amendment rights …and with this one, it was obvious that the school wouldn't support any kind of walkout…so we decided to do this by ourselves.' Yakima School District spokeswoman Kirsten Fitterer said staff members were placed by school exits Wednesday to inform any students participating in the walkout that they could face disciplinary action."
• NBC-2.com (Cape Coral, Florida): "Students at Ida Baker High School tell us as few as three people willingly left school Wednesday as part of the planned walkout. One student said several students changed their mind after administrators told them there would be school disciplinary action taken for those skipping class."
• The Messenger (Ft. Dodge, Iowa): "As cars drove by many motorists honked their horns—a few expressed their opinion by extending their middle finger at the group of students holding signs and flags."