Editorials

You don't bring a rock to a gunfight

Last weekend, we heard from the kids of America.

Hundreds of thousands of students, including many here in San Luis Obispo County, rallied in support of sensible gun laws on Saturday — part of the wave of protests that followed last month's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Good for the kids. They are sick and tired of living with the threat of violence not just at schools, but also at churches, concerts, movie theaters and on street corners.

They want meaningful progress. They deserve it.

Unfortunately, some of the adults just don't get it.

For example:

  • A rural Pennsylvania School District is keeping buckets of river rocks in its classrooms so students can throw them at shooters.

"They (shooters) will face a classroom full of rocks, and they will be stoned," said the superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District. (The district has since announced that it also has hired additional security.)

Reality check: We never thought we would have to point this out, but you don’t bring a rock to a gunfight.

Granted, there is a theory that if you throw a rock, it could distract the shooter long enough for someone to tackle the armed assailant. But wouldn’t a heavy backpack work just as well?

And more to the point, is this really something we expect our kids to do? A trained deputy didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the shooting began … and we expect kids armed with rocks to confront shooters?

  • OK, maybe they can’t ward off a shooter, but they can at least render first aid.

That’s the thinking of former Republican senator and presidential candidate and current CNN commentator Rick Santorum, who believes students should learn CPR instead of lobbying for gun control laws.

"How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that," he said.

Reality check: CPR is a great skill and we, too, urge students to learn it. But this isn’t an either/or situation. Students can multitask — they can rally for sensible gun laws one day, and take CPR on another day.

However, there are limits to what CPR can achieve, as several doctors pointed out in response to Santorum. “Survival rate of pulseless trauma victims who get CPR at the scene: VERY, VERY LOW. Survival rate of people who don’t get shot in the first place: MUCH, MUCH BETTER,” tweeted Dr. Rebecca Bell of Vermont.

Also, here’s our personal favorite, from Dr. Armand Krikorian of Illinois: “Rather than trying to disarm North Korea, let us just all learn CPR.”

  • These kids are being exploited!

Lies continue to circulate about the students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High who are now front and center in the effort to pass meaningful gun control legislation.

Over the weekend, a fake photo showed Emma Gonzalez, who spoke at Saturday's march in Washington, D.C., ripping up a copy of the Constitution. She was doing no such thing, yet the photo went viral.

This is on top of earlier accusations that students who survived the Florida shooting are actors and/or are being coached and manipulated by the left — as if to say that "real" students can't be that articulate.

Reality check: Students have the right to free speech, and many of them are very, very good at exercising it.

Several of them spoke at the March for Our Lives event in San Luis Obispo.

If they did happen to get some guidance in preparing their remarks (and we don’t know whether or not they did), so what? Plenty of high-ranking politicians use coaches, speech writers and teleprompters, and sometimes still manage to sound like nincompoops.

These young people will be taking over someday. We should be proud — or at least relieved — that they can express themselves passionately and articulately.

Keep in mind, though, they are still kids, and it is still our job to protect them.

Issuing them buckets of rocks and instructing them to take CPR so they can treat one another when they are shot does not constitute “protection.”

Neither does telling them to butt out and let the adults take care of things.

Getting shot in math class is not and should not be "their problem," as Santorum so blithely labeled this cause. All of us adults own this problem, not them. Some, like Santorum, own it more than others for malignantly squandering opportunities to effect change time and again.

So instead, in the absence of adult leadership, the kids have taken it on.

There's a lesson to be learned from this. It's time we sat down and listened.

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