There has been a massive wave of misinformation in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting, much of it designed to spur outraged Americans into action to support gun control measures or denigrate the National Rifle Association. It began with an erroneous claim that there have been 18 "school shootings" since January 1, 2018, and continued, most recently, with a bizarre claim by leftist media that the NRA both sponsored and trained shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Several left-leaning outlets led with headlines about the "shocking" detail, but the most egregious claim may have come from Think Progress, which blared that the NRA had given a $10,000 grant specifically to train Cruz as a military marksman.
This is, shall we say, quite the stretch. The NRA donated $10,000 to Parkland's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps — or JROTC — unit, one such unit that is part of a national program sponsored by the U.S. Army to train and prepare students interested in serving in the U.S. military after high school graduation, or to guide those who want to excel in the areas of "citizenship, leadership, and teamwork."
The National Rifle Association generously provides these units with grants to train participants in air-rifle marksmanship, part of the units' military-style training. Parkland's JROTC received one such grant, to the tune of about $10,250, but there are at least 30 states that allow for such grants to go to JROTC as well as other organizations that teach basic marksmanship and survival skills, like the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.
The grant went to the JROTC, not to Cruz. And it didn't go to training Cruz to be a lethal marksman. It went to train the young cadets in proper weapons handling, weapons safety, weapons management and care, and good marksmanship form — and the cadets never even used real rifles. The JROTC trains with air-powered pellet guns.
But even outlets that don't lean as far left as the George Soros-funded Think Progress tried to use Cruz's actions to smear JROTC. Vox cried, for example: "Nikolas Cruz was reportedly on an NRA-funded rifle team in high school." Even a major media outlet like the Chicago Tribune wasn't immune.
But in trying to make Cruz the national face of a group these leftists are no doubt concerned operates in schools across America, they clearly missed how heroic Parkland's JROTC cadets truly were.
The school's JROTC company commander, 17-year-old Capt. Zackary Walls, and his colleague, 17-year-old Capt. Colton Haab, likely saved a number of lives when they heard gunshots on their way back from morning formation, and herded students, left vulnerable in the hallways, into an empty classroom and shielded them with the group's supply of bulletproof Kevlar mats.
They barricaded the classroom door, and stood watch over their friends, ready to engage the shooter if he made it through, armed with only a fire extinguisher.
They told their story to a shocked ABC News reporter.
But that's not even the most heroic Parkland JROTC tale. Peter Wang, a JROTC freshman at Parkland, sacrificed his own life to help save other students, holding doors open and directing his friends to leave the building as Nikolas Cruz rounded a nearby corner. Wang was reportedly in his JROTC uniform when he was shot and killed.
Members of the U.S. military are planning a uniformed presence at his funeral. According to reports at RedState and elsewhere, Wang's family is also donating the money they've received from concerned strangers back to the Parkland JROTC program.