Not surprisingly, liberal media quickly blamed the National Rifle Association for the deaths of 17 innocent people shot by Nikolas Cruz earlier this week in Parkland, Florida. But today, the left-wing website Think Progress and the New York Daily News ramped up their misguided condemnation by blaming the NRA specifically for supposedly teaching Cruz how to shoot the weapon. Their reasoning was that since the NRA donated $10,000 to a club at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that instructed proper firearm use, the gun lobby earned the blame for the shooter's actions. The club in question was the high school’s Junior Reserve Officer’s Training program (JROTC). While the NRA did donate money to the group, both articles neglect key components of JROTC and the benefit it brings to communities and young Americans.
According to the group's website, JROTC is a “congressionally mandated program that focuses on the youth-oriented mission “Motivating Young People to be Better Citizens”. It is one of the largest youth programs in the world with more than 310,000 high school students participating annually while enrolled in over 1,700 secondary educational programs and encompasses a myriad of teaching goals focused on leadership, teamwork, character education, personal responsibility, a sense of accomplishment, and service to the nation."
However, Think Progress mentions none of that. The headlinealone suggests to readers the NRA was directly responsible for training the shooter; “The NRA donated $10,000 to help train the Parkland shooting suspect to use a rifle."
From Think Progress:
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who charged with murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, honed his marksmanship skills in a school program supported by the NRA. Cruz was, according to the Associated Press, a member of the school’s four-person varsity marksmanship team, which received a $10,000 grant from the NRA in 2016.
MSD JROTC Marksmanship team would like to thank the NRA for their grateful donation of nearly $10,000 to upgrade and replenish equipment!pic.twitter.com/HhBwHIMl1n
— MSDJROTC (@MSDJROTC1)September 21, 2016
The marksmanship team was part of the schools’ JROTC program. On the team, Cruz trained with “air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a coin.”
Cruz discussed his AR-15 with other team members and was given the nickname “Wolf.” Another member of the team described him as “a very good shot.
The New York Daily News took it a step further. Their front page reads, “Trained by the NRA: School Shooter excelled in in marksmanship program sponsored by gun group.”
While it is true that Cruz was a member of the school shooting team that was instructed through JROTC, these articles fail to properly explain how JORTC helps thousands of kids across the country.
As noted by an NPR interview in 2007, the program helps thousands of kids find a greater sense of purpose and responsibility to help their fellow man.
One student was Nadgee Corbett. At the time, he was a senior in JROTC at his Baltimore high school. “I was kind of indecisive and a big procrastinator. And with, like, the opportunities to take, you know, leadership roles is like, well, I have somebody else's welfare in mind, not just my own, so I have to look out for other people,” Corbett said regarding from his his values gained JROTC experience.
Those same lessons were instrumental in saving many lives on Wednesday, after several other members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas JROTC sacrificed their wellbeing to assist others. Two of those students were Zackary Wall and Colton Haab.
"From CNN: When two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) captains heard gunshots after training with cadets, they used classroom materials to barricade and protect students.
Company commander Capt. Zackary Walls, 17, and Capt. Colton Haab, 17, told ABC News that they ended formations early to head back to their classrooms shortly before a fire alarm went off and the shooting began.
“Around 2:30 I hear the bell ring for the fire alarm and we start heading out,” Walls said. “I’m leading the line and we’re heading out and it just so happens our fire zone was exactly where the shooter was,” but, Walls added, he did not see the shooter.
“I heard the first two or three shots, I knew it was gunshots and I look back at all the kids behind me, there’s 60 kids looking at me [asking], ‘What do I do, where do I go’ I just yell, ‘get back in the classroom,'” Walls said.
He went on to explain that students were sprinting through the hallways “trampling over each other” and he began ushering them inside a classroom to shield them from the gunfire. “I start trying to just herd kids in there, get them to where they’re not pushing and trampling each other and just get them into the room safely. I pulled in teachers, I pulled in kids that weren’t in my class,” Walls recalled of the chaotic scene."
Walls and and Haab are heroes trained by JROTC. The same JROTC program that received the $10,000 grant from the NRA. But that doesn't matter to the New York Daily News or Think Progress. As two Twitter users articulately said, their coverage was "shameless" and "affirmative malice."
What this shameless clickbait headline doesn’t mention is the NRA donation went to the U.S. Army’s JROTC program — and what this article doesn’t mention is, during the the shooting, young JROTC members used the JROTC’s Kevlar sheets to shield a group of ~60 students from gunfire. https://t.co/CefY0GdRnD— Jerry Dunleavy IV (@JerryDunleavy) February 17, 2018
Good God, I didn't even realize this was the Daily New's front page today. Sometimes media cynicism can be so breathtaking that it becomes affirmative malice. pic.twitter.com/GECBwW7eXX— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) February 17, 2018
For an interview of the caliber of citizens that JROTC produces by and large, here is Colton Haab, the teenager who relied on his training, conscience, and courage to help as many students as possible.
Colton Haab, helped save students: “If Coach Feis had had his firearm in school that day, I believe that he could have… stopped the threat.” pic.twitter.com/l8JofSVQqu— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 17, 2018