Ex-GOP lawmaker suggests 'left-wing groups' are coaching Fla. shooting survivors

Former Rep. Jack KingstonJohon (Jack) Heddens KingstonThe Hill's Top Lobbyists 2021 The Hill's Top Lobbyists 2020 Lobbying world MORE (R-Ga.) suggested that the survivors of last week's shooting at a high school in Florida are being coached on their activism by left-wing groups.

Kingston, who served on Trump's campaign, was asked on CNN whether he thinks the students who survived the shooting are acting of their own volition in their calls for gun control.

"I think it's a horrible tragedy, and I am heartbroken that young people have gone through this, and I hope that it never happens again," he said during an interview on CNN.


"I also know that their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds, on their own, are going to plan a nationwide rally?"

He said advocacy groups often spring into action after news events.

"It's kind of like instant rally, instant protest," he said

CNN host Alisyn Camerota interjected, telling Kingston she was down in Florida and talked to the children who survived the shooting. 

"These kids were wildly motivated. I talked to these kids before they knew the body count of how many of their friends had been killed," she said.

"No one had talked to them yet. They hadn't been indoctrinated by some left-wing group. They were motivated from what they saw and what they endured during that ordeal."

Kingston said he doesn't doubt the sincerity of the children, adding that he knows they are heartbroken by what occurred.

But Kingston said the teens "probably do not have the logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had the preexisting anti-gun agenda."

Seventeen people were killed last week when a gunman opened fire at a high school in Florida.

Many students who survived the shooting have since become advocates for gun control, demanding that lawmakers take action.

Students from the Florida high school are planning to travel to the state's capital to hold a rally Wednesday against gun violence. Students have also announced plans for a march later this year in Washington, D.C.