Students are taking on the NRA and the politicians on its payroll — including Trump.
The teenagers who survived last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, continue to serve as powerful voices of conscience for Republicans like Trump who stand with the NRA and against ending gun violence.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg have been leading survivors of the shooting in pushing for action on gun violence, and on Monday morning, they torched the National Rifle Association’s influence over Republican politicians.
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked the two students what message they would send to the NRA.
“Disband. Dismantle, and don’t make another organization under a different name,” Gonzalez said. “Don’t you dare come back here.”
“How do you expect politicians, who need money to run for office, to say no to the NRA?” Camerota asked.
“If they accept this blood money, they are against the children,” Gonzalez replied. “They are against the people who are dying.”
“You’re either funding the killers, or you’re standing with the children,” she continued. “The children who have no money. We don’t have jobs, so we can’t pay for your campaign. We would hope that you have the decent morality to support us at this point.”
“If you can’t get elected without taking money from child murderers,” Hogg added, “why are you running?”
Trump’s response to this shooting has followed a familiar arc for Republicans. First, he went into hiding, and then he despicably tried to blame the victims, then shunted attention away from gun violence by refusing to even say the word “gun” in his canned statement on the shooting, then blamed the Russia investigation for the shooting, and after a weekend in hiding, is making weak noises about background checks.
But Trump and the Republicans similarly promised action on bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting in October, and they were lying. Trump has long demonstrated that he is in the pocket of the NRA, rewarding its $36 million campaign aid by becoming the first president since 1983 to address its annual convention, constantly pandering to the organization, and even hosting Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, at the White House on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.
That Trump feels compelled to even issue a weak statement on background checks through his spokesperson is a testament to the effect that the Parkland kids are already having. But their blistering critique shows that lip service is not going to make them go away, no matter how badly the NRA, or the politicians on its payroll, might want them to.