Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is known primarily for two things: his two failed runs for president and being the butt of an ass joke. So naturally, CNN gave him a job as a commentator, and today on State of the Union, he used that platform to spit up his particularly dumb opinion about yesterday’s March For Our Lives.
Santorum derided “phony gun laws” as a solution to a problem that is continuously enabled by our very real and shitty gun laws. Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, for example, legally bought the AR-15 used in the massacre at the age of 18, which was the minimum age allowed to buy an assault rifle in the state of Florida. Since the massacre, Florida has changed that law.
Instead of continuing to focus on these concrete policy solutions, which have proven to be more fruitful than any gun control push in recent memory, Santorum had another idea.
“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.
“How are they looking at other people — they took action,” anchor Brianna Keilar shot back.
“They took action to ask someone to pass a law,” Santorum, a former lawmaker, said of the high school students. “They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?’... Those are the kind of things where you can take it internally, and say, ‘Here’s how I’m going to deal with this. Here’s how I’m going to help the situation,’ instead of going and protesting and saying, ‘Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.’”
“I’ve got a kid who’s going to be in high school next year and I want him focused on algebra and other stuff,” panelist Van Jones responded. “If his main way to survive high school is learning CPR so when his friend gets shot, that, to me, we’ve gone too far.”
“I’m proud of these kids. I know you’re proud of these kids because you can do better,” Jones said. What if...he can’t do better?
Santorum’s CPR idea is, of course, dumb as hell. But no one should think for a second that it’s real; it’s a way to tilt the conversation away from solutions like the ones that the Stoneman Douglas school newspaper offered in the Guardian this weekend—solutions which aren’t necessarily perfect!—to solutions which shift responsibility away from the NRA and onto, well, anyone else. That Santorum isn’t bothered by the fact that the “anyone else” is “children” in this situation is just further evidence for his well-documented ghoulishness.
“Rick Santorum’s words are an insult to the kids of Parkland, my family and to the countless others who have had loved ones taken by gun violence,” Everytown for Gun Safety program manager Erica Lafferty—the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was murdered in that 2012 mass shooting—told CNN in a statement. “For anyone to suggest that the solution to gun violence is for kids to learn CPR is outrageous, and indicative of the NRA’s desire to do or say anything except strengthen America’s weak gun laws.”