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Parkland school-shooting survivor gives fiery pro-gun-rights speech at Denver summit

Author: Marianne Goodland - June 9, 2018 - Updated: June 10, 2018

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KashuvKyle Kashuv, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who favors gun rights, spoke Friday to the Western Conservative Summit. Photo courtesy of Centennial Institute.

Kyle Kashuv is 17 and will be a senior in high school this fall.

Between now and then, he’s actively recruiting other high school students to join him in learning about conservative values and to promote his ideas on gun rights. It’s a position that sets him apart from some of the other students at his high school.

Kashuv was in Denver Friday night to speak at the Western Conservative Summit. He is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and was at the school Feb. 14 when a 19-year-old former student shot and killed 14 students and three staff members. Kashuv was in a separate building during the shooting, he told Colorado Politics.

But he said he still doesn’t feel safe. “The same exact thing could happen at my school or any other school,” he said.

He doesn’t favor the gun-control measures publicly proposed by some of his classmates like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who founded #NeverAgainMSD and are pushing for high school students to become involved in the gun control debate and to push for stronger gun regulations.

Kashuv believes in gun rights and the Second Amendment, he said, and the shooting last February didn’t change that. He believes the solution to school shootings is to ensure that every school has metal detectors, armed guards and a single point of entry, though he advocates for multiple points of exit.

“It’s ironic. Our courtrooms are protected by metal detectors and guns, our airports, even our elected officials. But our kids are not,” he said.

Ninety-eight percent of school shootings end when the shooter is confronted by armed resistance, Kashuv said. Schools must equip and train on-site first responders, whether officers or teachers, because it takes law enforcement up to 15 minutes to respond to the first reports of a shooting, he added.

As to the school resource officer who was at Marjory Stoneman on the day of the shooting and reportedly didn’t engage the shooter, Kashuv called him a “coward” and believes was not properly trained.

Kashuv also blamed the school board and school security, whom he said knew the shooter was a threat and did nothing.

He shared his views on improving school security with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in a March visit to the White House. “He seemed very attentive,” Kashuv said.

Kashuv also is reaching out — literally — to students who feel isolated.

He’s developed a mobile app, known as #ReachOut, that allows students within a school to connect with each other and to receive anonymous help, especially when a school lacks counselors or other school professionals.

Kashuv gave a fiery speech at the summit that emphasized his mistrust of the government. He started by recalling the shooting. He was in a fourth-period class when the first shots rang out. Students sat for two hours in the dark, he said.

But immediately after the shooting, the left mobilized to denounce the Second Amendment and vilify guns, he said. That prompted him to do everything he could to protect the Second Amendment.

It “provides the right to defend ourselves, but more importantly, it poses a deterrent to tyrannical governments, since the first thing a government does is to take away a citizen’s right to bear arms, as has happened in China and Romania.” (Neither of those countries has ever had a Second Amendment. Both China and Romania currently allow individual ownership only for hunting purposes.)

Kashuv said the difference between those countries and the United States is that the U.S. has “the essential liberty of the Second Amendment and a rightful mistrust of the government and emphasis on self-preservation.”

He also blamed the media for highlighting the gun control efforts of Hogg and Gonzalez, stating that everyone knows their names but no one could name a single student from the Santa Fe High School shooting that took place in Texas on May 18.

One of the solutions to school shootings, as Kashuv sees it, is first to get rid of so-called “gun-free” zones at schools, which he said entice shooters. They know when they go to a school with a gun-free zone sign, they’ll encounter no opposition.

“Make America free of gun-free zones!” he exclaimed.

He also advocated for states to create tailored policies to defend schools, to establish single points of entry, and to elect candidates who will fight for Second Amendment rights.

“The responsibility of school safety is in every single one of us,” he said.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.