WASHINGTON - As Kyle Kashuv's classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School embarked on an unprecedented media blitz in their calls for new gun laws, the 16-year-old junior took his time.
In the days after a gunman killed 17 classmates and teachers at the sprawling Parkland, Florida school campus, Kashuv joined hundreds of students on a bus trip to Tallahassee to meet with state lawmakers. That is when the light bulb went off in his head.
"I realized there is a real concern for Second Amendment rights and someone had to voice the opinion of 50 percent of America," he said.
During an appearance on FOX 5's "The Final 5," Kashuv described his own newfound activism. Though instead of calling for new gun laws, he has found himself meeting with the likes of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, First Lady Melania Trump and a bipartisan array of members of Congress.
"I respect them," said Kashuv. "I don't think of them as higher than life itself. You have to respect the office. Respect the position. But you can talk to them like human beings."
Kashuv's new passion has been the Stop School Violence Act, championed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. During a press conference on Tuesday, Kashuv stood alongside the veteran lawmaker in support of the bill, which beefs up funding for safety training and security enhancements for school buildings.
The bill passed on Wednesday in a vote of 407-10. Kashuv believes his classmates could have also funneled their energies towards lobbying for the bill.
"When we look at these students, and if they truly wanted change, no one is taking away the fact they are amazing activists and raising lots of money," said Kashuv. "If they truly wanted change, the Stop School Violence Act is something. It makes sure Parkland will never happen again."
Kashuv also took umbrage with Stoneman Douglas classmate David Hogg, who told HBO talk show host Bill Maher last week that he hung up on a phone call from Trump.
"What he did is a disgrace," Kashuv said. "Even if you are emotional and you hang up on the president, it's totally understandable. But to go on national TV and brag about it, it's disgraceful and counterintuitive. If you wanted change, you wouldn't excommunicate one-third of the government."
Still, Kashuv believes the tragedy has galvanized his Parkland community. And while he continues to find himself as a newly-minted activist, he believes there could still be good that comes from it all.
"What changed was the entire Parkland itself," he said. "The second the shooting happened, the entire community came together. If you have political difference, it's not the issue. We are joined together.
"The end goal is for them to create a personal relationship and meet up on campus and become friends. We are solving the problem without any federal funds."