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How low can some people go in their defense of the NRA? Pretty low, evidently. It seems that attacking kids in high school is not below their standards.

What about children who march to protest gun violence in their schools? It seems that for some, these kids are also acceptable targets for their venom. For example, Fox News host Laura Ingraham hurled an insult against Parkland High School student David Hogg, 17, for not being accepted into four colleges. She did not mention that he had been accepted into three other colleges. Even the best students are rejected by some schools, of course, and I'm sure Ingraham will cringe when she looks back at her comment directed at Hogg when her own children go through the college application process.

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Why Ingraham decided that it would be a good idea to poke fun at a 17-year-old is beyond me. Hogg watched his fellow schoolmates being shot and killed or injured. Now he and his fellow schoolmates want to stop future school killings by speaking out for reasonable gun control in America. For some, calling for any level of gun control is a capital offense. That is the influence of the NRA, I guess. These folks take no prisoners, even high school students, who just experienced a school massacre first-hand and who are trying to make things safer for other students.

As a result of her insensitivity and stupidity, many of Ingraham's advertisers have dropped their sponsorship of her television show. It seems they don't want their names or products associated with Ingraham or her opinions. Nor do they want their products boycotted. As a result, Ingraham announced the week before last that she would be "taking next week off."

Hogg and his fellow students have called for reasonable gun restrictions such as stronger background checks, which a majority of Americans also support. I listened to many of these students speak on television and I must say that I was impressed by their articulation and intelligence. Their voices give me hope that the next generation of voters in America will hold our politicians to a higher standard than their parents; half of whom don't even vote.

It seems that some politicians are upset with these students for expressing their First Amendment rights, not to mention the right to demonstrate which is paramount to our democracy. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, for example, stated that instead of protesting gun violence in schools, the students would be better off taking CPR classes. Santorum also wondered why the students were "looking to someone else to solve their problem" when asking Congress to secure increased gun control in America. I guess the former senator didn't learn much about how laws are made while he worked in the Senate. Santorum has been trying to walk back his comments after he received an avalanche of criticism on social media. Comments made by medical doctors in particular wondered why Santorum thought that CPR would be helpful for these students trying to help their classmates torn apart by shots from an automatic rifle.

The NRA, of course, got into the act of trying to discredit the Parkland High School students, calling them "radicals" and "extremists." This is pretty rich coming from an organization that protects the rights of suspected terrorists to purchase weapons.

It is great to see students around America standing up to the NRA and their friends in Congress. They are true American heroes. They are not only studying American history in their schools, they are practicing what it means to be an American and the responsibilities of living in a free, democratic society. They are standing up to those who abuse their power and who subvert what is beneficial to the majority in order to support a minority interest that sends them campaign funding.

These students are smarter than Ingraham and Santorum. They are not blinded by allegiances to the NRA, a political ideology or by campaign contributions. Like the majority of Americans, they see the need for reasonable gun control in America.

The adults in the world have failed them, but I don't think these kids will fail us or their children. They are the next wave of voters in America. In fact, many of them will become voters before the November 2018 elections. I imagine that we have not heard the last from this latest generation of Americans.



Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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