Aidan Jackson, Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach, Va.
They called it National School Walkout day. Not that this was an official holiday of any sort. Rather, it was the brainchild of professional organizers looking to use school kids as anti-freedom props. Specifically, the idea originated with EMPOWER, the youth arm of the anti-Trump Women’s March.
The so-called “mainstream” media had been broadcasting empower’s message to tell everyone that this was the big day—the day when high school students would walk out in protest of Second Amendment rights so that tv cameras could beam the orchestrated scenes all over the United States.
This made 15-year-old Aidan Jackson of Virginia Beach, Va., pause. Jackson has that peculiar type of American spirit that doesn’t like to be coaxed into a mob. There are reasons why so many silver-screen Western heroes were sheriffs who stood up to vigilante mobs: Old-school America loves its individual rights, and nothing symbolizes our liberty from oppression like a man stopping a senseless, impassioned mob. In the same way, Jackson is cynical of community sentiment masquerading as authority, as any 15-year-old should be. This made him wonder why everyone was so in step, all marching to blame an object made of polymer and steel.
Jackson looked around his classroom that day at Ocean Lakes High School. He noticed the other students also looked confused. The time had arrived for the walkout. The media had been shouting about this, but the students weren’t quite sure what to do.
“Can we just walk out?” he asked his teacher.
“That’s up to you,” the teacher said with an unusually noncommittal tone.
A few students walked outside; hesitating at first, but then gaining confidence as they went unchallenged. Soon they were gathering in groups in front. It was as if the adults just faded into the background of a Charlie Brown cartoon with all its incomprehensible “wah-wah” talk. The students’ parents weren’t there, and their teachers and school administrators were just stepping aside and letting them leave.
What high school student wouldn’t want to walk out of the classroom to mess around with friends?
Jackson, like everyone else, had seen the coverage in Parkland, Fla. He knew the FBI, the local sheriff’s department and school administrators had all failed to act on the many warning signs from a very disturbed young man. He was aware that much of the narrative in the media was blaming guns for the actions of a mentally ill individual. He also knew that a school resource officer, gun in hand, had stayed outside during the murder spree.
“I’ve noticed that free people are safer than oppressed people.”
These were just some of the reasons it bothered Jackson that so many were blaming guns, and not the person who had committed the atrocity or the system that failed to stop him despite numerous warning signs. It bothered him even more that so many of the students weren’t thinking for themselves—or at least asking questions.
Jackson did the one thing a 15-year-oldkid caught in these times could. He grabbed a piece of paper, wrote the words, “Gun Control Is Not The Answer” on it, and walked outside.
Jackson held that piece of paper up high. He talked to some students, but mostly he just quietly held his sign. This was his opinion, and he welcomed rational debate with his peers. He is in the Young Republicans Club, and he likes to learn and to have his ideas challenged.
Instead, an older student walked up to him, read his sign and grabbed it from him. Before Jackson could get it back, the older student ripped the sign into many small pieces and let them fall to the ground—just as a bully would on a school yard.
“A lot of kids cheered him on,” Jackson said. “I thought we were out there to express our right to protest. Instead, this guy shut me up, and others cheered him for it.”
Until that moment, Jackson didn’t think of himself as a gun-rights advocate. He doesn’t hunt. In fact, he had yet to even shoot a gun. His father does have guns for self-defense, but the Second Amendment had barely been a topic of dinnertime discussion. He came to his opinions on his freedom by reading and watching both Fox News and CNN. Jackson says he’s not that ideological of a guy—what 15-year-old really is? But this treatment by what amounted to a mob changed him.
As this feature was being written, Jackson was pushing for another protest. He talked to local reporters and told them about his sign. He told them that he wants to hold a rally where everyone is welcome. He planned to hold it on April 21 at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach.
“I want to invite everyone to come to peacefully express their views and to meet people who have opposing views in an open and friendly way,” he said. “We need to all come together. Freedom shouldn’t be taken by a mob.”
Jackson’s story started to go viral, as it seemed to be against the mainstream. But is it really? Or is his view of freedom actually the mainstream view? He thinks at least a large portion of his peers don’t blame guns for the actions of a murderer. Still, his story ran counter to the narrative that the mainstream media insisted on pushing, that all high school kids want gun bans and support the passage of other gun control measures. This got his story picked up by The Hill, Newsweek and, of course, America’s 1st Freedom.
“My eyes are open,” Jackson said in a recent interview with a1f. “I’ve noticed that places like Chicago, places with the strictest gun controls, also have the highest murder rates. I’ve noticed that free people are safer than oppressed people. And people are responding. I had 30 text messages just this afternoon from strangers saying they support what I’m doing. I can’t keep up with all the support.”
Jackson is hardly the only student standing up for freedom. As David Hogg and other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students became darlings of the anti-Second Amendment media cabal, with professional organizers and wealthy individuals behind them, a few others shook their heads and stood up.
Kyle Kashuv, a student from Parkland, has perhaps been the most quoted. He was invited to the White House and met President Donald Trump. His Twitter account suddenly looks like that of an a-list pundit. He is pictured there with Vice President Mike Pence, Karl Rove, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, actor Rob Lowe and others. He traveled to Washington, D.C., and was outraged that he wasn’t allowed to speak at the big march—only high school kids from Parkland who toe the anti-gun line were permitted to be heard.
He has, however, gotten limited media coverage.
Kashuv was interviewed by Margaret Brennan for the March 25 airing of CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Brennan asked, “Now, you don’t necessarily support the march that just happened, but tell me why you’re here in Washington.”
“Well, look, I’m here for one very simple reason: I don’t want to see this ever happen again,” Kashuv said. “And what I saw at the march yesterday, which really frustrated me, is that I have a differing point of view, but what really concerned me was that how come I wasn’t invited to speak at the march because, as Americans, we all have different points of views and it’s important to represent them all equally.”
Kashuv later said people looking for something to blame for the actions of a murderer ought to be pointing at the “cowards of Broward County,” not guns. He also said a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and/or “high-capacity magazines” won’t solve the problem. He mentioned the school resource officer who had recently stopped a murderer at a Maryland school, and said that he likes part of a newly passed state law that allows certain Floridians to get training to carry guns on campus for school safety.
Another Parkland high schooler, Anthony Borges—who had been shot five times and survived, earning him the nickname “Iron Man”—released a statement criticizing the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for failing to protect students. Borges was recently released from the hospital, though he is still in a wheelchair.
“I know I’ve been called ‘Iron Man,’” the statement said. “And while I’m honored to be called this, I am not. I’m a 15-year-old who’s been shot five times, while Broward Sheriff’s deputies waited outside and decided that they weren’t going to come in the building.”
“I’m a 15-year-old who’s been shot five times, while Broward Sheriff’s deputies waited outside and decided that they weren’t going to come in the building.”
Students at some other schools have even held pro-Second Amendment demonstrations to show that plenty of high school students across the nation understand the importance of their freedom. A group of students at Woodland Park High School in Colorado, for example, walked out of school for a 30-minute pro-freedom rally. They began with a moment of silence for the victims of past school shootings.
“I don’t believe that guns are the problem,” Woodland Park student Haley Armstead told Fox News. “I think it’s more of the people and that people are trying to blame an inanimate object for something that’s not them.”
Other students argued that more armed officers and teachers would “stop” or “prevent” other school shootings.
Students at Rockledge High School in Florida also held a pro-Second Amendment demonstration. Students marched onto the school’s track carrying the American flag as they held signs saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and, “I support the right to bear arms.”
Clearly, America’s students don’t all have the one-sided view of guns many in the media pretend they do. It’s just that well-financed, national anti-gun groups were hard at work providing logistical and financial support to some of them while those who support hard-won American freedom were on their own.
By propping up Hogg and other students who blame freedom for the actions of a killer, these groups are hoping to build momentum for gun control as the days tick away toward the midterm congressional elections in November.
“We want to make this a movement, rather than a moment,” Shannon Watts, leader of Michael Bloomberg’s group Moms Demand Action, said. To do so, Watts’ group launched a new arm, Students Demand Action, with Bloomberg’s vast fortune behind them. But of course, it doesn’t include all students, just the ones who say guns are to blame.
Meanwhile, a voter registration drive led by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety has been working to register high school students to vote on gun issues. “It will focus on communities represented by Republicans who have taken campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association and have voted ‘no’ on gun control bills,” reported usa Today.
Further adding to the anti-gun war chest, celebrities such as George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey have pledged six-figure contributions to the gun control effort.
Deena Katz, a Women’s March activist and a producer of “Dancing with the Stars,” helped organize the March 24 anti-gun march in D.C. by filing for the event with the National Park Service. Katz also connected the anti-gun Parkland students with a public relations firm that helped publicize the march and arranged media appearances.
The anti-gun Parkland students—not students like Jackson and Kashuv—were also ushered, with help from these professional organizers, around the halls of Congress. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents the Parkland area, said the students pushed for bans on “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines.”
All of this is, of course, a professionally orchestrated production designed to sway opinion against gun rights. Jackson, Kashuv and the like don’t fit the narrative Watts and others in the anti-gun movement are presenting, so they weren’t welcome to speak at the march. This one-sided fabrication has prompted many conservative outlets to point out that these teens are too often being used as pawns for liberal activists.
Instead of trying to honestly win fact-based debates about what can actually make our schools safer, they opted to censor dissenting voices as they created a one-sided production.
To some extent, it worked—during the anti-gun event in Washington, D.C., a group of hand-picked students stayed in step with this theme by giving emotional speeches as they warned lawmakers they’d be voted out of office if they don’t pass more restrictive gun control measures.
The thing is, as Jackson, Kashuv and more have shown, freedom is a stubborn thing. Honest, sober debate, along with a real investigation, has already exhibited how the Parkland tragedy could have been avoided. A rational debate can also show us how to make all our schools safer.
Frank Miniter is the author of Kill Big Brother, his latest novel, that shows how to keep government from infringing on our liberties. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes for many publications. His website is FrankMiniter.com.