Among the student survivors of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, one has gained publicity for his differing views on addressing gun violence in the United States. And on Friday, First Lady Melania Trump met with Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland teen who has emerged as a voice opposed to the gun control reform advocated by many other Parkland students.
Trump posted a series of pictures and video featuring her with Kashuv, including a "surprise meeting" with President Trump. In one, Kashuv appears to be demonstrating how to use The Reach Out App. Its tagline is "students reaching students," and a brief tutorial on its Instagram page highlights the prevalence of bullying among young people. It is described as a "chat-based emotional support app that let's [sic] students reach students."
Like many of his fellow Parkland peers, Kashuv has rapidly amassed a large audience. His Twitter followers currently number nearly 88,000. But Kashuv's media influence may be due more to his heterodox views on gun control. He's become very popular in conservative circles for questioning his peers' demands for gun control.
Kashuv told Guy Benson of Town Hall, "I'm a very strong Second Amendment supporter and I will continue to be throughout this entire campaign."
Kashuv went on to tell Benson he did not want to become a strictly partisan figure in this debate: "I consider myself conservative, but I still want to reach the middle ground here, and that's my end goal: To reach a proper solution that is bipartisan. There is a middle ground."
To that end, Kashuv believes student activists and legislators should work first on what is actually achievable — securing schools. For Kashuv, that's the most pressing issue, and he thinks the incessant focus on gun control could not only be ultimately unsuccessful, but also impedes the process of tightening up school security.
The FLOTUS certainly appears to support Kashuv's agenda. In her Instagram post, Trump writes it was "wonderful" to meet him, extolling his "message of unity" as one "we should all share." She closed by wishing Kashuv "much success" in his endeavors.
Besides meeting the president and first lady, Kashuv has seen other perks for his willingness to vocalize his views. Kashuv sat down with Sens. Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, and Ted Cruz, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan. His welcome has been just as effusive within conservative media. Conservative podcast host Ben Shapiro has retweeted Kashuv often, and during a "whirlwind week" in Washington, Kashuv appeared multiple times on Fox News. He also met Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, Jim Acosta, and Kellyanne Conway, among others.
And it seems Kashuv might be growing more comfortable in a less conciliatory role when it comes to calling out fellow Parkland students. Kashuv took issue on Mar. 6 with a tweet by Sarah Chadwick that read in part, "If you believe your right to own a gun is more important than a child’s right to live then thats [sic] a moral issue on your part."
Kashuv responded by calling it a "highly divisive and faulty argument." He went on to write Chadwick should "stop pinning innocent law-abiding gun holders as immoral monsters."
On Tuesday, Kashuv also criticized Parkland survivor David Hogg for the latter's decision to hang up on President Trump. Asked about his thoughts on Hogg's decision, Kashuv told Fox News host Martha MacCallum, "You know, David Hogg was like, 'We have to make a change. Let’s make this happen.' And then the White House calls you and is like, 'Let’s do it...' And then you hang up on him? It’s extremely counterproductive.”
With the upcoming March for Our Lives around the corner and midterms on the horizon, expect to see more of Kashuv — and the other Parkland students — in the news and on the air.