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Crosstalk: What message did walkout send?



I wonder how many of the local students who participated in last week’s walkout realized they were part of a national movement sponsored by a group that is already in trouble for its leader’s affinity for anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and celebrating Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Liberatian Army and a cop killer on the FBI’s most wanted list?

Women’s March Youth Empower cleverly disguised the gun-control protest as a “tribute for the 17 victims of the Parkland, Fla, shooting.” But the staged events were clearly intended to put pressure on Congress and state legislators to further the agenda to ban firearms.

We were all told the walkouts were not political but organizers then said they were intended to show how “the United States has exported gun violence through imperialist foreign policy to destabilize other nations.” Racism and police brutality were also thrown in. Super political.

I’m sure students gathered outside The Dalles High School on March 14 were pure of spirit and heart in their quest to feel safe and secure in classes. Unfortunately, their walk-out on the same day as the national gun control protest divided this community as it did the rest of the U.S.

Facebook postings on the Chronicle page generated the same divisive rhetoric heard on the national stage.

In Washington, D.C., Leftist politicians Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders joined one of the youth demonstrations against the Second Amendment. Of course, the politicians were protected by heavily armed guards because the elite don’t intend to live by the same rules they seek to impose upon us, which is exactly the problem.

The walkouts were strongly supported by MoveOn.org (George Soros), Michael Bloomberg’s gun control organizations.

At least the Women’s March didn’t ask kids to wear the obscene hats of the anti-Trump protests they organized last year.

Did our students realize the irony of exercising their First Amendment right to demand that the rest of us give up our constitutional right to own firearms to defend ourselves and our families?

Did they contemplate the chaos that would befall this nation if everyone began cherry-picking the U.S. Constitution and trashing the parts they didn’t like?

I wonder if the school would have supported the walkout if a group of students wanted to gather outside to pray for the Parkland victims? How about if students wanted to leave campus and gather on the sidewalk to show support for their Second Amendment rights?

Here are some facts about why demands for a ban on “assault weapons” will not work:

• Over 90 percent of public mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones” where civilians are not permitted to carry firearms.

• Six out of every 10 mass public shootings are carried out by handguns alone, while only one in 10 is committed with a rifle alone.

• The average age of mass public shooters is 34, which means that increasing the minimum age for purchasing firearms would not target the main perpetrators.

Instead of furthering the agenda of statists to gut the constitution, students and authorities should be concerned about the one thing that every school shooter in recent history had in common: mental illness. Mass shootings are being carried out by a predictable pool of people.

The Parkland deaths can be directly tied to the malfeasance of adults in local law enforcement in Florida and the FBI for ignoring numerous warnings about the killer’s intentions.

All students and their parents have a right to demand that authorities act when anyone begins making bizarre and threatening statements that allude to some type of violence.

On an ironic note, the walk-outs are having the same effort as other anti-gun protests: Membership in the NRA and other gun groups is surging. Millions take their Second Amendment rights very seriously.

— RaeLynn Ricarte

I did not photograph Wednesday’s student protest at The Dalles High School, but I did review the pictures taken by the reporter and choose two for print.

My first choice was a simple shot of students standing together in a solemn group. It was the most representative of the many showing students as they circled the outer block of the high school.

That was the main story, but only by half.

As they left school property, students were greeted on the street by community members holding cardboard signs.

From among those selected I chose a second photograph, this one showing students and a banner reading “We are listening” with a heart colored in, all in red. It was one of a number of signs with that slogan.

I placed the photograph showing both a community banner and the students on page 1, quite small, and the one of students alone inside but much larger.

A newsroom is a very busy place and as I worked reporters and editors were working through Facebook posts and investigating rumors: Two people had posted that participating students were being suspended, there was controversy around some of the messaging, and videos by the Chronicle and Immense Imagery were drawing a lot of comment on social media.

I reviewed my choice of photographs and we went to press.

What happened is this:

“Students at The Dalles High School participated in a 17-minute national walkout. The date and length of the walkout were a tribute to the 17 victims who were fatally shot on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla.

“At 10 a.m., TD High School students began filing out of the school through all doors. They congregated near the entrances and then walked as large groups to the main entrance, then crossed the street to stand on the opposing sidewalk (shifting only once, to let a car enter a residential driveway.)

“By moving to the far side of the street, the students fully circled the “Gun Free Zone” of their school.

“Some adult community members joined in, carrying signs that read “We are listening” and “I care about your safety and will resist the NRA.” A few cars honked and waved as they passed by. Mostly, protesters stood in silence facing the school.

“At 10:17 a.m., the students all reentered the school and the participating community members went on their way.”

The official reason for the walkout, as stated by its organizers, was to protest gun violence and to demand legislative action on gun control.

Which brings up this week’s Crosstalk. Should the students have walked out in protest?

There is no question in my mind they have the right: If they are not on hand when the teacher takes roll, they are charged with an absence. Repercussions depend on how many classes they have missed.

I do have a question for the students, however.

First, as a direct result of student action in Florida, laws were enacted raising the minimum age for purchasing any gun; creating a three-day waiting period for gun purchases; and banning bump stocks.

Those are in my view sensible gun regulations, and were requested by students impacted by the Parkdale shooting.

Florida also enacted a provision that would allow superintendents and sheriffs to arm school personnel. This measure, the most controversial, is supported by the NRA and was not requested by the Parkland students, according to the New York Times.

My question is this: Are armed guards in school, perhaps appointed by the sheriff or superintendent, a good idea? Bad idea? Will it help keep you safe?

I’ve heard a great deal of discussion and debate, but the adults have been arguing so loud I can’t hear the students.

It is an issue for the entire student body, and could make an interesting topic for discussion: Perhaps the student council, acting in-lieu of Congress, could put to a vote.

I look forward to their next political move, which could logically be a letter to the editor: We are listening, and value thoughts on the issue from within the “Gun Free Zone.”

— Mark Gibson



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