KEARNEY, Neb. — More than 200 Kearney High School students stood up for their Second Amendment right to bear arms Wednesday morning by walking out of their school along with others around the country for the national Stand for the Second walkout.
In March, around 300 KHS students participated in the nationwide #Enough walkout. Though Kearney’s walkout was held to honor the lives of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting one month earlier, students around the nation were calling for gun control.
However, according to KHS sophomore Braden Rich, not all students are calling for that action to be taken. He and his friends are a part of the group that’s not.
“Really, (the Stand for the Second walkout) is kind of just going outside to show that we care about our rights,” Rich said. “A lot of people think that our generation doesn’t care about our rights.”
The more than 200 students who stood outside for 16 minutes Wednesday beginning at 10 a.m. seemed to have the same sentiments as Rich. They convened with their peers on the football field, and a few wore “Stand for the 2nd Walkout” T-shirts to show their support.
Rich and his friends started to consider having a Stand for the Second walkout after they saw information about the event online. The walkout idea started with 18-year-old Will Riley, a New Mexico high school student who has been drumming up support for the movement through social media.
“Today is the day we are ignored no longer,” Riley tweeted as @StandSecond on Wednesday morning. “Thanks for your support all the way, for everyone who stood with the brave students across America who will be standing up for our rights today.”
On the Stand for the Second website Wednesday morning, around 300 schools from all around the United States had reported they planned to host a walkout. The closest school to Kearney that reported a planned walkout was Giltner.
Rich said he went through the proper channels with Kearney High School to get the event approved, which meant contacting Principal Jay Dostal.
“Student rights … are very important and we want to make sure that they have a voice and we also want to make sure they do it in a positive and responsible way,” Dostal said.
Furthermore, because the walkout in March was nationally connected to the fight for gun control, federal equal access laws require that students in both groups of thought be allowed to express their ideas.
Rich said he and his friends “care a lot” about protecting their rights, which is why they wanted to provide an opportunity for their like-minded peers to express their opinions.
He also expressed it was important to counter the “mainstream media” coverage of students speaking up for gun control.
“There’s another side to the story,” Rich said. “We’re thinking that we still want our rights. We think it’s not really a gun problem but a people problem, and we need to work on that, too.”
Rich stressed the Second Amendment is “one of our rights that our Founding Fathers gave” and that if it were to be taken away, then “it just keeps going and going until we don’t have any freedoms.”
Instead of the gun-restriction solutions Parkland students have suggested as a way to prevent school shootings, Rich suggested instead a focus on mental health and counseling.
“(The right to bear arms) is not something that we should have taken away just because some people made a dumb decision,” he said.