How low can they go? Republicans, that is, in the nasty debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting. The bar has just dropped after an aide to State Rep. Shawn Harrison publicized a conspiracy theory claiming that the student survivors speaking out on TV are, in fact, actors. That aide has since been put on leave.
One Parkland student survivor, Jaclyn Corin, fired back on twitter.
We are KIDS – not actors. We are KIDS that have grown up in Parkland all of our lives. We are KIDS who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school. We are KIDS working to prevent this from happening again. WE ARE KIDS.
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 20, 2018
The Tampa Bay Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary tweeted exactly what the Representatives aide claimed in an email.
An aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." https://t.co/UFD1ZXGNjr
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
Rep. Shawn Harrison himself tweeted shortly after in response to the claim, seeking to distance himself from his aide’s paranoid, conspiratorial claim.
I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. I have spoken to him and placed him on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action. I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.
— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 20, 2018
Harrison’s aide was referring to Parkland students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg. The two well-spoken high schoolers have become the faces of the anti-gun movement in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre in which 17 students and high school faculty were killed.
Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School using an AR-15 machine gun.
Surviving students boarded buses to Tallahassee today to witness a vote in the State Legislature on whether or not to take up the gun control debate. The State House voted it down.
Parkland students are mobilizing a movement, planning a march on Washington and school walk out on March 24 and speaking out publicly in support of common sense gun control.
Conspiracy theorists on the right have been amplifying the claim that student survivors speaking out have been coached by Democrats or gun control advocates. Cooler heads are hoping to prevail and shut down those outrageous claims.