Parkland student Kyle Kashuv arrived in Washington, DC, on Wednesday for a series of meetings with members of Congress and journalists to voice his opinions on school safety.
His first stop was a Jimmy Johns right outside the White House, where Breitbart News spoke with him about the goals he wants to accomplish while in Washington, DC.
Setting aside his luggage, Kashuv paused when asked if he considers himself a “survivor” of the Parkland High School shooting, even though cable news has seized on the terminology to define his classmates.
“The only people I think can be branded as ‘survivors’ are people in the freshman building — unless you were in the freshman building or people who lost their best friends,” he explains.
But as a student at Parkland, cable news has made his voice relevant in the conversation about guns and school safety, and he appears comfortable using it.
He had some criticism of the response from the “cool club” of students who quickly organized after the shooting and issued dramatic calls for gun control.
“I think they had good intentions in the beginning, but I think it got corrupted,” he said. “It turned into anti-guns, anti-guns, anti-guns. I think the solution is about more than just anti-guns.”
Generally, he is supportive of the #NeverAgain movement and plans to attend the march later this month, but he worries that it has become too narrowly focused on gun control.
Most of the attention he received is a result of Twitter.
After attending the student march in Tallahassee, Florida, he started speaking out on Twitter. That attracted attention from Trump supporters and supporters of the Second Amendment, who started raising his profile. Early attempts to get verified on Twitter failed, but after an exchange with Chelsea Clinton, he finally got the “blue checkmark” verified status.
“I hate Twitter … I think it’s cancerous and a waste of time,” he says wryly, despite his use of the social network to set up meetings with a bi-partisan group of Congressional members.
By the time Breitbart News met with Kashuv, he had plans to meet with Sen. Chris Murphy, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Speaker Paul Ryan. He also plans to meet with officials at the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Kashuv wants to visit with President Donald Trump — but has not heard back — to show him that some of the Parkland students are ready to have a conversation.
Part of his decision to speak out was a frustration that only one side of the political debate was being highlighted by the media. He is partially annoyed at David Hogg, whom he recalls meeting at a drone club meeting at school when school was just normal.
He thought it was absurd that Hogg boasted about hanging up on the White House aide who reached out to him to invite him to discuss gun control.
“Look, I wasn’t a fan of Obama, but if he reached out to me to talk about an issue I cared about, I would at least respectfully take the call,” Kashuv said.
“I don’t think he’s a bad dude,” Kashuv added, although he said is annoyed that Hogg and his allies have focused their rage on branding the NRA as “evil” and sparking corporate boycotts of the organization.
“I don’t think it has to be like ‘us versus them.’ I think on some issues we agree … leave the gun control debate out of it for now,” Kashuv said.
Attempts to reach out to the group in the spirit of inclusion have failed, although he says he is not concerned about their differing views.
Kashuv attended the student march in Tallahassee, Florida, but said it quickly devolved into a “hegemony of elites” and “a closed-group circle” that excluded opposite opinions.
Kashuv says he has many Republican friends and knows underground Trump supporters who agree with his reactions, but he admits that they do not want the negative attention to follow them for the rest of their lives.
He admits that he considered the risks of speaking out but ultimately decided he was not afraid.
“I don’t think I’m doing anything like necessarily bad here,” Kashuv said. “I’m just trying to voice my opinion.”
He notes appreciatively that even some of his Democratic friends supported his decision to speak out.
Kashuv explains that his parents are largely apolitical; they are not gun owners or conservatives. He says that he arrived at many of his political opinions on his own by watching YouTube videos and reading articles on the internet.
He does not own a gun nor has fired a gun, but he would like to someday soon.
His opinions on the Second Amendment are largely theoretical but well-informed as he cites self-defense statistics and ridicules leftist activists for failing to have a basic knowledge of semi-automatic firearms.
Kashuv said he is not interested in a life of politics or political activism but instead business, and he is trying to focus on school despite the shooting that disrupted everyone’s lives.
In his spare time, he trades cryptocurrency and does his schoolwork with plans to go to college for business.
Kashuv says his parents are supportive of his decision to speak out as long as he doesn’t: “A) Screw up my future and B) Stay on my homework.”
The mention of homework reminds him of his school, and he admits that it is hard to focus after the shooting.
“No one can focus, no one can,” he says, admitting he is worried about the upcoming AP exams at school.
“We gotta get those pushed back,” he said lightly, reaching for his phone. “I’m going to call David Hogg about that right now.”
But Hogg did not answer.