Rick Santorum Puts His Ignorance on Display

I have no idea why people continue to give a platform to Rick Santorum. He only served two terms as the senator from Pennsylvania before losing to Bob Casey, and his presidential campaigns never got off the ground. But perhaps CNN was having a tough time getting someone to take the pro-gun position on Sunday after the enormous turnout across the country for March For Our Lives. Santorum answered the call.

Of all the idiotic things conservatives have said about school shootings, the former senator might have topped them all.

“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 where there is a violent shooter and you can actually respond to that?” Santorum said. He continued: “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? How am I gonna do something about stopping bullying in my community? What am I gonna do to actually help respond to a shooter?”

Those who support a ban on guns like the AR-15 (the gun of choice for mass shooters) are often told that they don’t understand the mechanics of guns. But when Santorum suggests that students would be better off taking CPR classes than demanding common sense gun control, he shows an ignorance that is astounding.

Personally, I won’t claim to be an expert on guns, but even I can understand why the medical community was so quick to respond. Here’s just a sampling:

Dr. Sher is the one who wrote this about bullet wounds from an AR-15:

The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different: They travel at a higher velocity and are far more lethal than routine bullets fired from a handgun. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than—and imparting more than three times the energy of—a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.

You can read more about the kind of damage that does to the human body at the link. She also wrote this about a colleague whose child attended Stoneman Douglas:

One of my ER colleagues was waiting nervously for his own children outside the school. While the shooting was still in progress, the first responders were gathering up victims whenever they could and carrying them outside the building. Even as a physician trained in trauma situations, there was nothing he could do at the scene to help save the victims who had been shot with the AR-15. Most of them died on the spot; they had no fighting chance at life.

The Parkland students aren’t asking for a ban on all guns or a repeal of the Second Amendment. They are simply demanding a ban on these weapons of war.

During his 2012 presidential campaign, Rick Santorum gave us a hint about why he would be comfortable with saying something that ignorant. He thinks suffering is a good thing.

During a town hall meeting in Ottumwa, Iowa Friday afternoon, Rick Santorum argued that Americans receive too many government benefits and ought to “suffer” in the Christian tradition. If “you’re lower income, you can qualify for Medicaid, you can qualify for food stamps, you can qualify for housing assistance,” Santorum complained, before adding, “suffering is part of life and it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life.”

That is an extreme position, even in the world of white evangelicals. We can have a debate about the role of government in helping families get access to health care or limiting the availability of weapons of war. But what we can’t do is simply ignore what’s going on and suggest that there is something redemptive about suffering.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.