CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico teenagers joined with students from across the U.S. in a school walkout to support gun ownership.
Students from schools in Carlsbad, Albuquerque and Santa Fe participated in the movement Wednesday called "Stand for the Second," which aims to raise awareness of Second Amendment rights.
Carlsbad High School student Will Riley had launched the effort that spread to many schools across the country. Riley and hundreds of his classmates walked out about 20 minutes before the end of the school day Wednesday.
The 18-year-old senior said he wanted to show that not all members of his generation are advocating for gun control.
"I was just really proud to give a platform for people who felt like they were being ignored, and I thought I was able to break the silence," Riley said.
As students marched from the main building at Carlsbad High to the student parking lot, community members stood across the street holding American flags and cheering for the teenagers.
"I support the Second Amendment. I think there is a good reason for the Second Amendment. It's not a gun issue. It's a people issue," Valerie Murrill of Carlsbad said.
Riley was named an honorary sheriff's deputy last week by Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage for his efforts in organizing the walkouts.
In Albuquerque, students of La Cueva High School left a morning class and held a rally. About 100 students participated, according to co-organizers Casey Bruno, 16, and Devon Van Leeuwen, 15.
"Our school safety is very important to our government and myself. I'm not here to argue about that, but I am here to make sure our Second Amendment is kept safe and upheld," Van Leeuwen said.
The demonstration showed students and government officials that there's another perspective in the ongoing debate, Bruno said.
In Santa Fe, dozens of students at the Academy for Technology and the Classics participated in a walkout and rally.
Andreas Sandoval, an organizer of that event, told the gathered students that the focus of gun control efforts should be on preventing bad people from owning guns, not banning gun ownership. The 17-year-old junior said people have a right to own AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and he backs plans to place armed officers on school campuses.
About 45 students from the same school marked the April 20 anniversary of the Columbine school massacre by organizing a discussion of school safety issues in the state Capitol with state legislators, school district officials and police.