Pro-gun walkout planned today

May 2, 2018 GMT

A Columbia Falls High School senior is planning to participate in “Stand for the Second” a nationwide 16-minute walkout today beginning at 10 a.m.

Columbia Falls High School Principal Scott Gaiser said although the school is not sponsoring or endorsing the event, administrators have worked with student organizer Braxton Shewalter to ensure student safety and minimize disruption to instruction.

“We’re trying to work with kids in the best way we can,” Gaiser said. “As with any situation, the biggest factor for us is maintaining an educational environment with as little disruption as possible - with the most important element that kids are safe and that everyone is safe.”

School attendance policies will remain in effect.

“This is not a school-sponsored event and students will not be excused from classes to attend. As per the CFHS attendance/tardy policy, parents may excuse their son or daughter for an absence or tardy,” Gaiser said.

Stand for the Second may be the first national school walkout supporting gun rights in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.

The school shooting, where 17 people were killed, spurred a flood of student activism stemming from Parkland survivors.

The Stand for the Second initiative follows a March 14 national school walkout that advocated for stricter gun control legislation and reform. At the time, students in Flathead County’s public high schools worked with administrators to host and participate in 17-minute memorial events held during school hours to remember the Parkland victims.

On the March 14 walkout, Shewalter was among a group of students at Columbia Falls High School who joined the walkout, but in support of the Second Amendment.

Stand for the Second was initiated by a Will Riley, a senior at Carlsbad High School in New Mexico who launched www.standforthesecond.com. A message from Riley on the website states:

“I founded this movement of my own volition because I see the imminent threat for my generation’s future posed by the attack on our Second Amendment rights.”

The site encourages students to educate classmates “about their constitutionally protected rights” in drawing “attention to the people who are legally and effectively exercising their rights.”

Shewalter said interested students will gather in front of the Columbia Falls High School gym. He plans to speak for four minutes with 12 minutes spent in a moment of silence for military who have died in the past year.

The site also encourages students not to disrupt school: “We do however recognize that when anti-gun students organized their walkout, they were allowed and often encouraged by their schools. In light of this fact, we ask that we receive the same platform to express our views.”

Shewalter has registered the walkout at Columbia Falls High School with Stand for the Second. A map of registered events appears on the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund website.

The walkout precedes the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Texas on May 4-6.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.