Usually the National Rifle Association is silent after a school shooting. But not this time.
Just hours after the teen shooter at a Maryland high school died after exchanging gunfire with a school resource officer, the NRA is treating the incident as a slam-dunk for its agenda. The group is now using the shooting to show why it’s better to have more “good guys with guns” in schools.
While details are still unclear, the resource officer stopped a shooting in progress at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on Tuesday morning. The county sheriff's department, however, wouldn't confirm if the officer's bullet hit the gunman, 17-year-old student Austin Wyatt Rollins. They fired "simultaneously," a spokesman said.
The gunman had shot and critically injured a female student with whom he had a relationship and wounded another male student, according to the sheriff's department.
Despite the lack of clarity, the NRA didn't take long to tout the school resource officer's actions as a victory over the “anti-gun, anti-freedom narrative.”
“Thankfully, an armed school resource officer stopped the attack by engaging with the shooter,” said NRA-TV host Grant Stinchfield. “This story is proof, when something doesn’t fit their anti-gun, anti-freedom narrative, the lying news media simply doesn’t cover it.” The shooting has been covered by all the major cable news networks.
NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch called the school resource officer a hero.
The NRA-TV Twitter account even pushed an old video of NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre calling for armed security in schools and rejecting attempts to ban semi-automatic rifles and limit magazine power and firearm accessories.
Breitbart News, the right-wing website founded by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and thought to be a good indicator of Trump’s base, ran the headline, “Good Guy with Gun Opened Fire on MD High School Shooter, Ended Threat.”
Tuesday’s school shooting marks the 11th time a gun has been fired in a K-12 school since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people and sparked a youth-led movement demanding gun control, according to data compiled by the nonprofit The Trace.
Immediately after the Parkland shooting, President Trump advocated for enacting gun control laws to limit the legal age to buy a firearm and strengthen the federal background check system, but he also criticized schools for being “gun-free zones.” Later he walked back the age limit initiative and focused on advocating for arming trained teachers.
Less than a week ago, students from Great Mills High School participated in the national walkout to demand action on gun control. Survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas are organizing a march in Washington, D.C., for this Saturday, March 24, demanding federal gun control legislation, and there will be many such solidarity marches in cities across the country that day.
Cover image: Parents walk their children, students from Great Mills High School, after picking them up from Leonardtown High School in Leonardtown, Md., Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)