The mainstream media gave a massive spotlight to the anti-gun March For Our Lives, which featured many of the student survivors of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. However, there is a group of students planning the Stand for the Second walkout, orchestrated to support the Bill of Rights on May 2nd of this year.
I spoke with the organizer, a high school senior in New Mexico named Will Riley, about the planned event, its message, and the reaction from his school, the media, and his peers.
Q: What gave you the idea to do this pro-Second Amendment walkout?
WR: The National Day of Action and March For Our Lives were student-led movements that obviously had a lot of help from gun control organizations and the media’s response was to call for more gun regulations while claiming that this is “for the kids.” But when I look around, I see hundreds of students who are signing up for our march who are not for gun control, especially when former Supreme Court Justice Stephens comes out and says we should just repeal the Second Amendment entirely. What the media is saying is a mischaracterization of my generation.
The reason we’re doing it as walkout, the (March For Our Lives) students received that as a platform from their schools. It was totally condoned, across the country, if not, then outright encouraged, and our movement deserves to have the same platform. We need an equal playing field or it’s viewpoint discrimination.
Q: Is there significance behind the date, May 2nd?
WR: We chose May the second, since our theme is ‘Stand for the Second.’ I started this about a month ago and we originally wanted to do it in April, but we decided to shoot for May to help better organize it.
Q: How has the school district reacted? Have they been supportive, neutral, or hostile?
WR: The new principal was a little hostile but it was more about the students doing another walkout than the stance we were taking. He’s thinking, “They just did a walkout and now they’re doing another walkout,” so I don’t think it was a political issue as it was keeping us from walking out of school everyday.
But, I explained to him that this is just something that we want to have an equal playing field. We’re only asking for 16 minutes, one minute less than the National Day of Action had.
We chose 16 minutes because it is estimated that 1.5 million people use a firearm to defend themselves; if you break it down with our 16 minutes, that’s 91 people using a gun in a responsible and correct way without hurting innocent people.
And after I spoke with the principal, we worked out something that did not interfere with state testing or finals, they allowed it, and even said they would provide extra security to make sure all goes well.
Q: How have your peers reacted? Have they been supportive?
WR: Yeah, they have been. Most of the ones I’ve talked to are happy about it. I think a lot of people have been thinking the same thing. That is, the March For Our Lives and the National Day of Action don’t represent us or our views. They wanted a place to express their views and they are happy to see this platform.
Q: The March For Our Lives got a lot of press coverage, both local and national as well as support from local politicians. Have you received any positive or at least fair reporting from the local and national media? Have any politicians come out in support?
WR: There are a few state newspapers that have given us fair coverage. There are two local television networks that have given us fair coverage and have interviewed me in a fair way. At the national level, the Washington Examiner published my op-ed that I wrote for this, some conservative outlets have covered us, but not really anything else.
As for as national organizations, the Tea Party Patriots are helping us get off the ground and stuff.
Now to be clear, this is totally student-led, student-driven and the Tea Party Patriots are just helping us do things like help us get conference calls set-up to bounce ideas off each other and help us get an interactive map up.
Outside of that, we don’t have quite the advantage that March For Our Lives had.
Q: If a student hears about what’s going on at your school, and wants to lead one on their campus, how can they can involved?
WR: A ton of people have already signed up. A majority of schools are outside of New Mexico and even outside the Southwest. We’ve gotten tremendous support and we’re in 300 schools right now in something like 40 states. If you look at our interactive map, there is a place to sign-up, the Tea Party Patriots provided a page on their website to help do that. You can link to that from our website; it’s all spelled out.
Q: What would you say to a student who wants to get involved, but is afraid of pushback from the school district, teachers, parents, or their peers?
WR: I would say this is an incredibly important issue and because it is the students who are being used in the arguments in this case, it is also incredibly important that we stand up now. Otherwise, there will be some horrible, unconstitutional action based on this myth that all of the students are supporting it.
Around the country, the student organizers I’ve talked to, some have said, “I may be the only one who does this at my school. I live in an incredibly progressive area. I could get suspended.”
If that is what it is going to take for us to have our voices heard, then I would encourage you to do that. That is something that is heroic.
Q: What do you want the message to be for this walkout?
WR: The message that we want to get out is that not everyone is on board with this shortsighted crusade against the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment. I think there are still patriots coming up in the next generation and we’re trying to make sure that whenever it’s our turn to lead America, it's going to be the America the founders intended and not some Orwellian nightmare created by destroying the Bill of Rights.
You can find out more about the Stand For The Second on their website. If you’re interested in finding out if your school is involved, you can find the interactive map at the Tea Party Patriots website.