Colorado SpringsEducationNews

Pro-Second Amendment rights students at one Colorado Springs school to walk out of classes

Author: Debbie Kelley, The Gazette - May 2, 2018 - Updated: May 2, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS — Students who support gun rights sat in Discovery Canyon Campus’ high school March 14 and watched as peers who want stricter gun laws walked out and rallied on the school grounds.

Second Amendment advocates say it’s their turn to make their voices heard. What organizers expect to be a small but mighty force of students plan to leave class Wednesday morning, congregate in front of the school, wave signs and exercise their free speech privileges.

“Both sides of the argument need to be shown,” said sophomore Gabriel Paz Soldan. “We’re standing for the right to be able to have weapons for defense purposes and hunting.”

He and other students who plan to participate, including co-organizer Brett Gould, say many people who demonstrated across the nation in March did not understand why they were doing it.

“They were sheep in the crowd,” Gabriel said. “We want to show that that group does not speak for all youth in America.”

The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group called for a nationwide protest March 14, to honor victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and to send a message to lawmakers that they want tighter gun reform.

At many schools, students stayed outside 17 minutes, one minute for each life lost in the Florida shooting.

Discovery Canyon Campus students also will remain outside for 17 minutes Wednesday.

“People don’t understand all the stories behind all the freedoms our forefathers fought for, and all the Second Amendment stands for,” Gabriel said. “When they wrote that amendment, they had just been to the Revolutionary War, so it was written in the spirit of self-protection and preservation.”

“Everybody’s against school violence; we’re very saddened it has come to that,” he said. “We think mental health should be the focus, and we think we should be educating instead of retaliating.”

Wednesday’s walkout at Discovery Canyon, which serves preschool through 12th grade in Academy School District 20, will be held during the high school’s weekly homeroom period.

School administrators have been helpful, Gabriel said.

“They said they will not condemn or support this, but they do support our First Amendment rights and our freedom to protest,” he said.

He said the Discovery Canyon students were inspired to hold their event by Woodland Park High School students who left classes April 4. They gathered at the city’s aquatic center adjacent to the school, observed a moment of silence for victims of school shootings and spoke about gun rights.

About 100 students participated, said Woodland Park School District RE-2 spokeswoman Stacy Schubloom.

“We allowed students who chose to do that to leave school for the amount of time and then return to classes,” Schubloom said.

The number was comparable with the 100 students who joined the March 14 gun reform rally, she said, and both events were “very peaceful.”

The Second Amendment event drew national media coverage, with a Fox News story about it.

In Monument, a counterprotest to the March 14 nationwide walkout favoring gun restrictions became a lesson in free speech rights and vulgarity at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Three trucks parked near the school, each with one word printed on the windows that collectively read “FU#K” “GUN “CONTROL” on the same day as the nationwide rally.

The principal determined the first truck’s message was vulgar, said Lewis-Palmer School District 38 spokeswoman Julie Stephen.

After administrators identified its owner, the student changed the sign with the obscenity, she said.

Debbie Kelley, The Gazette

Debbie Kelley, The Gazette