Op-Ed by Will Riley | United States
For the past month, Americans have been subjected to wall-to-wall cable news coverage of a well-orchestrated campaign to dismantle the Second Amendment. This campaign, organized and funded by national gun control groups, has exploited a handful of grieving teens from the Parkland, Florida high school shooting tragedy. As a high school senior in Carlsbad who supports gun rights, I am disgusted by how these students and their adult handlers are trying to define my generation. My generation is not anti-Second Amendment. My generation does not agree with retired Justice John Paul Stevens that the Second Amendment should be repealed. In fact, millennials are more pro-gun than our parents are. It’s time the media starts hearing from the millions of young Americans who respect the Constitution and recognize that the Second Amendment is fundamental to our protection and safety, as both individuals, and as a nation.
A recent Gallup poll found that 66 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they think that concealed carry guns would make the U.S. safer, 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 56 percent. A separate Pew Research Center poll found differences between millennials and the generations before them on two gun control proposals, outlawing “assault-style” weapons and banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Both Republican and Democratic millennials are more conservative on these proposals and less likely to favor them than Generation Xers, baby boomers, and even members of the so-called “silent generation,” those born between the mid-1920s and mid-1940s. These Parkland high school students do not speak for my generation.
I am not a hunter. I am not much of a shooter. But this issue is not only about guns. This is a battle for the very heart and soul of our country. My goal is simple. I want to spread awareness that not all of my generation shares in this shortsighted crusade to strike a grievous blow to our nation. That is why I have decided to start this movement, Stand for the Second, and began planning a student walkout paralleling the National Day of Action and March for our Lives.
Rather than focus on the victims of firearms, as the gun control walkout did, our walkout will recognize all the American lives saved each year by firearms. Every year an estimated 1.5 million Americans use a firearm to defend themselves. During a 16 minute walk out, that breaks down to 91 American lives saved during the walkout. We want Americans to know that firearms are overwhelmingly used for good in our country. More importantly, the Constitution guarantees the right of every law-abiding American to Keep and Bear Arms. That is what we want to remind people of – our Constitution is still relevant today and the Second Amendment, in particular, is still sacred.
Currently, my Stand for the Second walkout is expected to draw about a thousand students at Carlsbad High School, with a small residual effect causing smaller walkouts in Artesia, Hobbs, and possibly Roswell. However, this is not the vision I want for our movement. I want a nationwide movement to defend the Constitution. Unfortunately, I don’t have the benefit of wealthy organizers and funders like the Parkland students enjoyed. It’s pretty much just me and my friends trying to get the word out. I am asking everyone who sees this, to consider a Stand for the Second walk out at your high school. Because my generation is so connected to social media, I think our message should be spread on Twitter and Instagram, and whatever other sites you use. You can link to my website on social media to help promote it: standforthesecond.com
My generation has an obligation to define itself and not let ourselves be defined by national gun control groups. This is our opportunity to stand up for the Second Amendment and have our voices heard in this critical national debate.