Christie: Are the Parkland shooting teens fair game for conservative critics?

Emma Gonzalez, center, and the other student activists from Parkland cheer on stage at the end of the March for Our Lives rally in Washington. The attacks on the teenage survivors of the shooting have been fierce from the beginning, and have only continued since the students helped spearhead hundreds of protests last month. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

It’s been a month and half since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and school personnel dead at the hands of 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz.

RELATED: Depression is setting in, concerned Parkland students say at town hall

Thanks to the outspokenness and energy of surviving students like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, the tragic shooting has sparked a movement against gun violence and for common-sense gun control laws. The constant rhetoric, rallies and TV appearances of Parkland shooting survivors moved a previously immovable Florida Legislature to enact in three weeks what it had refused to do in nearly three decades: stricter gun controls.

Though state lawmakers still have more work to do, long-time Tallahassee political observers marveled at what these well-spoken, impatient teens have already been able to accomplish.

RELATED: POINT OF VIEW: Politicians, put yourselves in Parkland survivors’ shoes

But those efforts, and the teens’ further demands for more stricter gun controls, have put them squarely in the sights of the powerful gun lobby led by the influential National Rifle Association.

As a result, they’ve been attacked repeatedly by regular folks, politicians, celebrities and even law-enforcement officers on radio, TV and in social media.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham apologized under pressure last week for taunting a survivor of the school shooting in Parkland as several companies confirmed they would pull advertising from her show. (Laura Segall/The New York Times)

Most recently:

  • Fox News host and conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham was forced to take a week off from her show after she was pilloried for criticizing Hogg on Twitter after he talked about his difficulties getting into the University of California.
  • Artist and musician Frank Stallone  was forced to apologize after a profanity-laced criticism of the Parkland survivors over the weekend.
Ted Nugent (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

But rocker and NRA board member Ted Nugent has been unapologetic. Nugent, who began his attack of the Parkland teens over the weekend, doubled down on WABC’s Curtis + Cosby show on Monday.

“(David Hogg) has been brainwashed, it’s tragic,” Nugent said. “I don’t think the guy can be fixed. … This guy is a lost cause. He is consumed with hate. He is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Nugent also said Hogg and the Douglas High School students are “not very educated” and “wouldn’t know an AR-15 from a pterodactyl.”

Pro-gun supporters and others argue that the teens stepped into a serious grown-up issue and thus relinquished the right to be treated with kid gloves. If you dance to the music, you’ve got to pay the piper, they say.

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But what do you think?

Do you agree with the criticisms being leveled against the student survivors of the Douglas High School shooting by right wing and NRA supporters? Or should there be a hands-off approach to these outspoken teens who suffered an unimaginable tragedy?

Take poll here:

Christie: Parkland students getting a hard lesson about #thoughtsandprayers in Tallahassee

Buses pick up the kids to take them back to West Boca. West Boca High School students walked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

In the immediate aftermath of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Palm Beach Post Editorial Board quickly published an emotionally raw piece aimed at political leaders’ typically empty statements following such a tragedy.

The editorial focused specifically on the well-worn, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of this tragic shooting,” or something to that effect. From the White House to the U.S. Senate to the Florida Governors Mansion, the tweets came fast and furious.

Feeling much the same emotion, the Editorial Board told them, “With all due respect, save it.” What we need is action, not thoughts and prayers.

RELATED: Scott holds Parkland shooting meetings; House rejects assault gun ban

Well, in the ensuing week, the Editorial Board was criticized by a handful but lauded by many for saying, as one reader put it, “what needed to be said.” And it appears that sentiment has become part of the anthem of Stoneman Douglas High students as they’ve made their way to Tallahassee to meet with state lawmakers today.

Sarah Lopez, a tenth grade West Boca High School student who walked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Tuesday cries as she stands in front of a memorial. She said it took her 4 hours to walk there and “there was nothing to compare to the feeling that you can change things”. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

They will rightly demand action. But as the House of Representatives showed them on Tuesday, they likely won’t get the action they want. The chamber, by a resounding 71-36 vote, said “no” to even discussing a proposed bill to ban the deadly AR-15 military-style assault weapon reportedly used by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14.

But whether the students are successful at turning a Legislature that is culturally and financially in sync with the gun lobby is not the point.

This is an eye-opening experience for them (and the parents of the state’s other 2.8 million students) about how Florida politics works. This is better than anything they could have learned in a Civics class. And what matters is what they do with this experience. Starting today.

Following is the Post’s Feb. 15 editorial in its entirety:

Editorial: Thoughts and prayers won’t stop these mass shootings

Save the thoughts and prayers. We need action. Now.

There was another mass shooting in the United States Wednesday afternoon. This one was at a school. The 18th shooting at a school this year, a year that is not yet 7 weeks old, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

Law enforcement authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student, terrorized Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and shot and killed 17 people, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Cruz, who was apparently expelled from the high school last year, is in police custody. But why he committed this heinous act is still a mystery.

It could have been far worse if not for the textbook way in which law enforcement — including Parkland Police and Coconut Creek — handled this horrific incident, according to various experts. That was likely due to the sad fact that police nationwide have run this drill so many times since Columbine and Sandy Hook.

On Wednesday, as then, our political leaders were quick to send their thoughts and prayers to everyone involved.

Gov. Rick Scott tweeted: “Just spoke with @POTUS about shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My thoughts and prayers are with the students, their families and the entire community. We will continue to receive briefings from law enforcement and issue updates.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam tweeted: “Prayers for all the students, teachers and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. And to our first responders, be safe and godspeed.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement: “Praying for everyone involved in today’s shooting … I am on the way with my victim advocates and we will be available in full force to help all victims and their families with any services they need.”

With all due respect, save it.

What these grieving parents and students need is for you to finally enact some common-sense gun control legislation, rather than continuing to loosen gun laws and make these terrible shootings more likely.

You can stop trying to allow guns on Florida school and college campuses. You can stop gutting the state’s concealed weapons laws. You can pony up the money for more school police.

No fewer than 150,000 American public school students have gone through one of these tragedies. Even if they weren’t physically wounded, they now carry the psychological scars of watching a classmate bleed out in front of them.

“I thought this was a drill we were supposed to have,” teacher Melissa Fallowski, told CNN’s Jake Tapper, her voice still shaking. “Society failed us today.”

Yes. Yes, it did.

Crosses and flowers hang on a fence outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Friday in memory of the 17 people killed in a shooting. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)