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In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students in York County and across the nation have rallied passionately for gun control legislation.

They’re energized, articulate and committed.

Most scary of all, at least for gun control opponents, those youngsters also seem to be effective. They have done what couldn’t be achieved after previous mass shootings — they’ve kept the debate going. They haven’t allowed the NRA and its legion of supporters to simply ride out the tidal wave of gun control pleas that followed earlier gun massacres.

These kids aren’t going away.

That’s why some folks on the right are taking every opportunity to criticize the student protesters as uninformed, misguided or just plain unintelligent.

Santorum's comments: Pennsylvania’s former U.S. senator, Rick Santorum, is among the latest in the chorus of conservative critics bashing the student activists.

“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,” the Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The 2012 and 2016 presidential candidate also said students could work to stop bullying in their communities or respond themselves to a shooter, instead of asking lawmakers to approve legislation to protect them.

It’s hard to believe that Pennsylvanians elected this man to the U.S. Senate — twice.

To his credit, Santorum later said he "misspoke," but that doesn't completely walk back his comments. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Going off the rails: Look, learning CPR and stopping bullying are noble endeavors. Santorum has a point there.

But Santorum veered way off the rails when he said students shouldn’t ask their lawmakers to protect them from violence in their schools.

That is exactly what these students should be doing. They have every right to feel safe in their schools and they have every right to demand that their government officials make sure that is the case.

Santorum’s comment that kids should respond themselves to a shooter is equally ludicrous. When an armed gunman is roaming through a school and shooting everything that moves, and you’re an unarmed teen, or even pre-teen, you don’t confront the shooter. That’s suicide. Instead, you run and hide. That’s simple common sense. It's also what are children are taught to do.

Social media firestorm: Santorum, not surprisingly, was vilified on social media by gun control supporters of all ages. Also not surprisingly in our divided nation, he got a ton of support from gun control foes.

Santorum went on to say that if the rallies are about more than politics, then the country needs to have a broader discussion that doesn’t revolve around “phony gun laws” that don’t work.

Mr. Santorum, how do we know they won’t work, when the NRA and their cronies in Congress won’t allow even minor gun control reforms to become law.

Finally, Santorum said this about the student demonstrators: “They took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem?”

Doing their patriotic duty: OK, we get it. Santorum is big proponent of individual action, as opposed to government. That's his conservative nature.

Still, the students, as individuals, are dealing with the problem in tried-and-true American fashion. They’re joining forces and protesting in an effort to create change.

There is nothing more red, white and blue than that. It’s one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

You would think a true patriot, such as Mr. Santorum, would understand that better than anyone.  

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