Parkland Shooting Survivor Came to DC and Met With Everyone (Including the President)

Parkland shooting survivor, 16-year-old Kyle Kashuv, has, like his classmates and fellow survivors, embraced the hashtag #neveragain following the killings at their school last month.

But unlike his classmates Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, he has decided to pursue a more bipartisan approach in an attempt to address the problem of an uptick in school shootings and law enforcement failures that led to the deaths of 14 of his classmates and 3 of his school’s staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

While Gonzalez and Hogg have been featured on all the legacy media outlets, and have been openly scornful of meeting any authority figure who may be able to help them make sense of what happens next (like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who came to their school last week while Gonzalez grumpily promised she’d “sleep in” to avoid her), Kashuv took another route: flying alone to Washington, DC this week and taking meetings with Senators and leaders (both on Capitol Hill and the media) from both sides of the political aisle.

He met with Schumer, Hatch, Breitbart News, Ryan and Conway. Rubio, Cruz, CNN News and Murphy. And yes, even Trump.

He doesn’t consider himself an expert, and he’s uncomfortable with people calling him a “survivor.” He wasn’t in the freshmen building that the gunman attacked. He’s never fired a gun. But he’s fiercely fixated on the middle ground, that mythical place where change is incremental enough to assuage conservatives and profound enough to please progressives.

“Here’s the thing, okay?” he says, after refilling his Coke. “The initial movement, in its purest form, was amazing. It got corrupted because now it’s represented as anti-gun and anti-NRA. ‘Boycott this, boycott that.’ It’s detracting from the actual discussions.”

He suggests achievable goals: increasing security at schools and deepening background checks (particularly for mental health). He’s also developing an app called ReachOut, a way for students who are struggling emotionally to connect and communicate with others in school.

Gruen helped Kyle turn his outreach into actual appointments on the Hill. And suddenly Kyle had a D.C. itinerary that any lobbyist would dream of, packed into 24 hours: five senators, the Speaker of the House, the counselor to the president, and then a special surprise at the White House.

Kyle, who identifies as a conservative and whose parents are Israeli immigrants, is even in the beginning stages of developing an app to help further the spirit of #neveragain. It’s called @theReachoutapp and its Twitter bio says it’s to help “students reach students.”

Kyle documented his last-minute, extremely productive, trip to DC on his own Twitter feed. Several of his tweets are below. You can see the rest by visiting here.