Whidbey student calls for walkouts after passing of 1639 gun initiative

Nov 15, 2018, 6:06 AM
guns, assault weapons, gun, 1639, 1639 gun initiative, gun tax...
Guns. (KIRO 7 image)
(KIRO 7 image)

Many adult gun owners are mad about the 1639 gun initiative passing, but as it turns out, so are some young people it directly impacts. Among other things, Initiative 1639 prevents 18, 19, and 20-year-olds from purchasing a semi-automatic firearm.

This was less than good news for 17-year-old Whidbey High School student Aryeh Rohde, a libertarian who’s calling for a student walkout to protest 1639 passing.

“I actually took the time to read all 32 pages of the initiative, and just realized how horrible this was,” Rohde told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “I couldn’t believe it was getting on ballot at first, especially after the NRA sued them.”

I-1639 raises the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic firearm from 18 to 21. It also requires buyers to pass a more thorough background check, go through a 10-day waiting period and complete a training course. It was approved by Washington voters with 60 percent in favor.

“This is America, it’s a natural right to defend yourself by any means necessary,” he said. “I believe nobody in any position — be it government or somebody on the street — can decide whether you can defend yourself, which is a natural right.”

While proponents have argued that the 1639 gun initiative would protect young people like Rohde when considering school shootings, he doesn’t believe it’s the right approach.

“If you look at where all these shootings are happening, they’re all in gun-free zones, where a potential shooter knows there’s not going to be a good guy with a gun, there’s going to be no one there to stop them,” Rohde said. “In our schools we practice lockdown drills for potential shooters, and what we do is just sit in our rooms and lock the door and sit in the corner. I feel in this situation with students just locking the door and sitting in dark room, you’re a sitting duck just waiting to be shot.”

Since becoming political active, Rohde has felt a groundswell of support, despite the fact that he’s been told there’s little he can do.

“I’ve been told by many people recently that me being at my young age and doing this is pointless, that I can’t even vote and no one’s going to listen to me,” he said. “But since I’ve gotten active, the group that I’m with — South Whidbey Libertarians — is growing tremendously. People are messaging me everyday asking me what they can do to help with this.”

Rohde says that many of the teachers in his school push for more liberal ideas, and that as a result he’s in the minority among his fellow students when it comes to his beliefs.

“I’ve gotten in many arguments with teachers in class,” he said.

“A lot of people are scared to speak out if they share the same beliefs that I do because they don’t want to feel alienated from society or the community that they’re in, which has happened to me at some point,” Rohde said. “But I don’t let that stop me because what I believe, I stand behind firmly.”

RELATED: Will Washington’s I-1639 gun control measure face a court challenge?

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Whidbey student calls for walkouts after passing of 1639 gun initiative