The Mixed Signals Sent Out By The Student Walkout

Marie Butler holds a sign in the snow with fellow students from high schools in Pittsfield, Mass., and surrounding towns in Park Square to rally for gun law reform in light of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Fla. Students around the nation are participating in a school walkout. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

Yesterday, a whole pile of kids got up and walked out of school. Why?

It seems there were a lot of mixed signals floating around. For some, it was about remembering the Parkland students and teachers killed a month ago. For others, it was about squashing our Second Amendment rights. And that’s the problem.


For example, NRA TV’s Cam Edwards reports varying descriptions of what his own children were told.

The tweet he was responding to was regarding a story at The Federalist where it seems a number of parents were being told the walkout for gun control was really a memorial for those killed at Parkland.

My local television station also reported it as a memorial for the Parkland slain.

Nearly a month after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students across the country walked out in protest for National School Walkout Day on Wednesday.

The purpose of the event is to remember the lives lost in the Parkland shooting and also a call to action for gun violence in schools.

South Florida area high school graduate Becky Van Horn, 24, who now lives in Breckenridge, Colo., holds a sign to remember her late coach Chris Hixon, who was killed in the shooting shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, during a National School Walkout Day protest Wednesday, March 14, in Frisco, Colo. School students participated in a nationwide rally for 17-minutes, one minute for each student killed in the recent school shooting. (Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP)


Yet note the sign in the back. It makes no mention of Parkland, only gun control. If it’s about remembering the kids killed, then wouldn’t thrusting politics into the moment be in poor taste?

It’s not alone, either.

Students at Roosevelt High School take part in a protest against gun violence Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Seattle. Politicians in Washington state are joining students who walked out of class to protest against gun violence. It was part of a nationwide school walkout that calls for stricter gun laws following the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school. (AP Photo/Manuel Valdes)
Students their way up East Washington Ave. toward the state Capitol during a walkout to protest gun violence, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, n Madison, Wis., one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Fla. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
Boston area students chant on the Statehouse steps during a rally in Boston, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. As part of a nationwide school walkout, students from several Boston area schools, closed after Tuesday’s snowstorm, marched from a downtown church to the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at stemming gun violence. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


I could go on and on, but I won’t. You get the point. At least a large number of students argue it was about gun control, while some were saying it was remembering the dead.


And that’s part of the problem regarding the walkout yesterday. Without a unified message, it’s impossible to tell what any of it was about. It’s ridiculous to lump those who walked out in memory of the dead with those who walked out in support of gun control. After all, anyone should be able to recognize that even supporters of the Second Amendment might be drawn to stand up and honor those killed.

Yet that’s not what’s taking place. What’s happening is people are looking at the walkout as some grand success, a real blow against the gun rights community.

But it’s not.

When some students are forced to “walk out,” and others are told it’s for something completely different, then the numbers become even more meaningless.

Not to mention, students walking out in the first place–particularly with the administration’s permission–is attractive to kids who just don’t want to stay in class. The number of students walking out will be artificially inflated by those who see it as a handy excuse to skip class.

Others may feel obligated to walk out through peer pressure. They don’t want to be the only one sitting in class when everyone else gets up. Couple that with students who think it’s for something completely different, and you have a movement that is meaningless.


Don’t get me wrong, I support their right to protest. I don’t think a walkout is a good way to do it, and I think schools are justified to punish them for the disruption, but protesting itself? More power to them – even if I disagree with what they’re saying.Their First Amendment rights aren’t subject to my whims, nor should they be.

But let’s not blow Wednesday’s walkout out of proportion. In fact, we shouldn’t make anything out of the walkout. Without a unified message, all we have are a gaggle of kids walking out of class.

I forget where I saw it, but someone suggested that if you want to see the real number of gun control supporters in a school, hold a teach-in on Saturday at the school. I agree. That would be telling.

Somehow, I think the teach-in would be awfully empty.

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