At Justin Vaughn’s Maryland high school, support for curbing guns runs deep, “and I’m on the ‘wrong’ side,” the 17-year-old says.
So it came as a relief for Vaughn to mingle with like-minded conservative students from across the country at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
“This is like the only place I’ve seen where kids are on my side,” Vaughn said. At his high school, he said, his pro-Second Amendment views are received as, “I’m supporting killers, when I’m really supporting people who want to protect the Constitution.”
The students who survived the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have captivated the nation — on television, in town halls and in marches and rallies from campuses to state capitals. While they have turned their grief and anger into a powerful political force in support of gun control, and luring their peers in other states to do the same, the young adults speaking up for gun rights at CPAC say they feel increasingly marginalized.
“Not liking guns is a millennial thing, it’s the cool thing to be against guns,” said Vaughn.
Jacob Thomas, 20, a student at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Va., said he’s experienced the same situation.
“You can’t express that opinion, especially on college campuses,” he said.