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‘We’ve Been Waiting for You.’ Barack Obama Praises the Teen Shooting Survivors Fighting for Gun Control

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Former President Barack Obama is throwing his support behind the teenagers vocally advocating for stricter gun control in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting last week.

“Young people have helped lead all our great movements,” Obama said on Twitter. “How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be.”

Obama’s show of support came shortly before Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President, told the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that politicians and the media are exploiting the Florida school shooting to expand gun control and ultimately abolish the second amendment.

“As usual, the opportunists waited not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain,” LaPierre said during CPAC, the annual gathering of conservative activists and Republican leaders in National Harbor, Md. “Chris Murphy, Nancy Pelosi, and more, cheered on by the national media, eager to blame the NRA and call for more government control.”

“They hate the NRA,” LaPierre said.”The elites don’t care one wit about school children. If they truly cared, they would protect them.”

The students’ actions — ranging from speaking at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale to organizing an upcoming national march to holding meetings with President Donald Trump — have added a timely emotional resonance to the country’s pitched gun control debate. Some corners of the conservative media have incorrectly dismissed them as “crisis actors” posing as high school students.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” Obama said. “And we’ve got your backs.”

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com