While students on Friday across the country walked out of classes to demand action on gun reform, Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior Kyle Kashuv chose not to.
Instead, he hosted an livestream with conservative commentators who discussed their support of the Second Amendment.
“I truly believe this livestream – learning about our Constitution and finding ways to save lives without infringing on our Constitution – is the best way to sanctify the day and remember those who were lost in (the Parkland shooting) and in Columbine,” Kashuv told CNN. “I created this event to do just that.”
Kashuv hosted the online forum – dubbed “Walk UP!” rather than “walk out” – on Periscope, where thousands of viewers tuned in to listen to commentators such as conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the Parkland shooting on February 14.
Kashuv has built a profile as the conservative alternative to the outspoken members of the #NeverAgain movement – fellow Parkland students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky. He’s been outspoken about his support for gun ownership while his classmates have called for more laws to be implemented in the wake of the shooting.
In March, Kashuv went to the White House to meet with first lady Melania Trump, and later had a surprise meeting with President Donald Trump.
Speakers took turns talking about policy and their support of American citizens’ right to bear arms and offered statistics that countered gun control advocates’ arguments to enact gun control legislation. Some voiced their support for the National Rifle Association.
Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, an advocacy group for young conservatives, pointed out that the Parkland shooting should’ve been prevented, not by gun violence, but by law enforcement agencies who missed the warning signs displayed by the shooter.
Kirk also offered other methods of reducing gun violence in schools, such as having more armed guards on American campuses or placing more metal detectors in schools.
“No right is more fundamental to our very character and our safety of our nation than our Second Amendment,” said Kelli Ward, a candidate for the US Senate in Arizona. “Our founding fathers understood this clearly and that’s why they wrote the Second Amendment the way they did – that that right will not be infringed.”
Former US Rep. Joe Walsh said the Parkland shooter alone was responsible for the shooting, not guns.
“Whether he had a gun, a hammer, a bomb, whether he drove a pickup truck through the window of a classroom … He’s responsible for that act, not the gun, not the hammer and not the pickup truck,” Walsh said.
Kashuv weighed in on the school walkout on Twitter, calling it “pointless.”
Kashuv later told CNN he believed the livestream had been a success, and that he was honored by the commentators that chose to participate.