One month after a madman raged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people and wounding a like number of others, some schools across the nation participated in a rally. And, while the walkout was touted as a remembrance of the dead and injured in Parkland, Fla., it ended up being more of a political event, featuring speeches calling for more gun control, from bans on so-called “assault weapons,” to requiring a firearm transfer just to lend your gun to a friend when you’re going out hunting together, to raising the age to buy a rifle.
While it’s admirable that schools were looking to find a way to allow students to grieve, the fact that the event turned into a stump speech for gun control is regrettable.
Even if you discount the notion that pro-Second Amendment voices were not allowed to be heard, it’s more disturbing that, as researcher John Lott noted, the event does the exact opposite of what schools are supposed to do. Rather than teaching teens to consider multiple sides of an argument and think for themselves, the National School Walkout encouraged students to fall in line with one way of thinking. Students who didn’t support the gun control view were made to feel like outliers.
Though some of the television news coverage would have you believe otherwise, student backing of the rally was not universal. Rather, only about 3,000 of the nation’s 34,000 public and private high schools participated.
Even at Columbine High School, home of a 1999 school shooting, not everyone was behind the movement.
“People say it’s all about gun control, it’s all about, ‘We should ban guns,’” Caleb Conrad, 16, a junior who stayed in class, tweeted. “But that’s not the real issue here. The real issue is the people who are doing it.”
And the Lafayette Parish School Board in Louisiana canceled plans for a walkout after people protested over the likelihood the event would take on political overtones. Instead, the school allowed for a moment of silence. Some students there still left class for a 17-minute rally on school grounds.
While the anti-gunners are always quick to make a big splash in the media, other schools and communities are taking a more rational approach to tackling the challenge of shootings at schools. In Ohio, for example, educators are being trained to carry concealed. In Oklahoma, the Healdton school district has installed bulletproof shelters to protect students. And the Heritage Foundation is hosting a School Safety Teach-In this week.