CNN commentator and former Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Rick Santorum on Sunday suggested students protesting for gun control legislation would be better served by taking CPR classes and preparing for active shooter scenarios.
"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," Santorum said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Santorum's comments came a day after protesters assembled at March for Our Lives events in Washington and across the country to demand gun control legislation in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Santorum dismissed the usefulness of "phony gun laws" and appeared to call on students and others to improve their communities and to prepare to respond to further shootings instead of calling for new laws.
"They took action to ask someone to pass a law," Santorum said. "They didn't take action to say, 'How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?'... Those are the kind of things where you can take it internally, and say, 'Here's how I'm going to deal with this. Here's how I'm going to help the situation,' instead of going and protesting and saying, 'Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.'"
Van Jones, a liberal CNN commentator, interjected and mentioned his own child was about to start high school.
"I want him focused on algebra and other stuff," Jones said. "If his main way to survive high school is learning CPR so when his friends get shot ... that to me, we've gone too far. I'm proud of these kids. I know you're proud of these kids too."
Santorum responded by continuing to knock gun control efforts.
"I'm proud of them," he said. "But I think everyone should be responsible and deal with the problems that we have to confront in our lives. And ignoring those problems and saying they're not going to come to me and saying some phony gun law is gonna solve it. Phony gun laws don't solve these problems."
Santorum's comments prompted a statement from Everytown for Gun Safety program manager Erica Lafferty, whose mother was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The statement read: "Rick Santorum's words are an insult to the kids of Parkland, my family and to the countless others who have had loved ones taken by gun violence. My mother was killed while protecting her students at Sandy Hook School. For anyone to suggest that the solution to gun violence is for kids to learn CPR is outrageous, and indicative of the NRA's desire to do or say anything except strengthen America's weak gun laws."