(BILLINGS) As students and School District 2 are in talks about how best to handle a planned walk-out later this month, some students are opposed to it.
The walkout is part of a larger movement across the country, set for the one-month anniversary of the shooting at a Florida school that left 17 dead.
But those students opposed say they believe the walkout is less about school safety and more about gun control, which they oppose.
“They project that if we don’t march out, we want violence in our schools,” said Dan McGee, a student at Billings Senior High. “That is not the issue. The issue is that they’re trying to make it that if you march not only are you for safe schools, but you’re anti-gun rights.”
The students believe the intention was for the march to be non-partisan, but that has not been the case.
“It just seems like a lot of teachers are trying to project their views and make it a really kind of partisanship issue,” said McGee. “It just seems really kind of ludicrous to me that teachers want kids to skip school when a lot of them preach about showing up to school every single day.”
Senior High student Piper Stephens said that everyone can agree on safer schools, but she does not believe it is fair to pair that with gun control. She believes the underlying issue in these shootings is not just guns, but mental health and a broken system.
“In all these school shootings you see… that the shooter was depressed, had some mental illness,” said Stephens. “I think the system is broken in the way that those people are allowed to have guns… I think there are obvious red flags, especially in the Florida school shooting, that guy shouldn’t have been able to have a gun and I think that’s important to know that we don’t disagree with that, we don’t believe that guns should be a free for all for everybody.”
That sentiment was shared among four students who spoke with MTN News.
“I think it’s more of a mental health issue than people are letting on,” said Charlie Klepps, a Senior High student. “If there is a drunk-driving accident, you don’t blame the car, you blame the driver. You don’t even blame the alcohol. Just like when there is a shooting, I don’t think we should be blaming the guns, we have to blame the person who was in the mental state to go do that.”
The students said they believe there is currently a 50-50 split between students who will participate, and those who won’t.
The walkout is scheduled for March 14 at 10 a.m. Students who participate will walk out of school for 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.