By: Luke Rohlfing
Hundreds of Fort Collins, Colorado area students walked out of their respective schools to converge on the downtown square to protest for more gun regulations in response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead.
The sea of students formed in front of a stage and wielded a range of signs, stating everything from “Gun Reform Now” to “Guns Have More Rights than My Vagina.”
The student carrying the latter sign identified as Josie, a senior at Poudre Valley High School. When asked about her sign, she stated, “There’s a lot of people chiming in on how women should control their bodies at the moment, but there’s nobody chiming in on what people should do with their guns.”
An eighth grader at Lesher Middle School named Nessa Pause carried a sign stating, “STOP GUN VIOLENCE,” and laid-out her opinion on how to stop gun violence in schools:
“I think that automatic weapons like assault rifles should just be allowed for [police] officers, and people in the military," Pause said. "I also think that we should have more regulations on guns, like we have a lot of regulations on cars.”
When asked about a Colorado bill pushed by State Rep. Patrick Neville (a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting) that would allow teachers with concealed carry licenses to carry in schools, Pause separated herself from much of the demonstrators, stating that “if we gave them to the right people,” it could be helpful in solving the problem.
But while Pause at least considered allowing teachers to carry guns, Liam Murney, a senior at Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, didn’t see things the same way.
“I don’t think that my math teacher, with no training, no room clearing ability, no tactical training whatsoever would make any amount of difference with a gun,” Murney said. “It’s another shooter; it’s just confusing.”
While the vast majority of the demonstrators were on the anti-gun side, there was a sizable group of students who stood in favor of gun rights, and a convoy of trucks flying “Don’t tread on me” flags circled the square throughout the event.
Organizers attempted to force two Poudre Valley High School juniors holding pro-gun signs to leave the sidewalk next to their event area until Fort Collins Police informed organizers they don’t have the right to kick people they disagree with off a public sidewalk.
Gunpowder Magazine caught up to those two pro-gun students and spoke to them about their experience, and why they chose to counter-protest the event.
“I just wanted to say that students our age are not a monolith,” stated a pro-gun student named Connor. “We believe different things. There’s a variety of different opinions, and I just felt it necessary to express the other side.”
Both Connor and his friend, Patrick Golden, expressed their beliefs on how to stop school shootings.
“I think arming teachers would be a good step,” said Golden, who also expressed support for having armed guards, including veterans, on school property.
There was another group of about a dozen pro-gun students who created a stir after loudly shouting their support for the Second Amendment, chanting phrases like “pro-gun!”
The entire event lasted about two hours and remained peaceful, unlike some school walkouts that have occurred across the country on this issue.
Gunpowder Magazine reached out to Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, who has children who go to school in Fort Collins.
“School walkouts throughout history were about fighting for civil rights, and were strongly opposed by those who hold the levers of power,” Brown stated. “Tuesday’s walkout was the polar opposite; they were fighting against civil rights, and were praised by those who hold the levers of power.”
Luke Rohlfing is a contributor at Gunpowder Magazine, writing from Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Thadeus Krehbiel