After mass shootings, political parties and advocates from both sides prepare for battle and choose which weapons they’ll use in the ideological fight over gun rights. Gun activists and the right tend to choose what they always do, a bevy of cold hard facts and statistics. The left and anti-gun activists reach for any emotional argument they can use forthwith. Their weapon of choice this time was kids.

And these kids are nearly adults, capable of arguing for themselves instead of through a parent, or adult representative. Furthermore, they were there at the Stoneman Douglas High when the shooting happened, making them survivors. This puts them in the interesting position of being both sword and shield for gun control advocacy.

And that side knows this. If we push back on the students in any way, shape, or form, we can be labeled as heartless monsters who only care about our guns for telling, not just victims, but child victims that they’re wrong. To the general public, this can look very bad for anyone going against them.

This has given some of the students like David Hogg, Emma Gonzales, and Cameron Kasky, license to not just become public gun control advocates, but political activists. Hogg, 17, has spent a lot of time on mainstream news programs attacking Gov.Rick Scott for whatever reason he can cook up. Kasky, 17, has focused very hard on bringing down the NRA, which had nothing to do with the shooting, but oddly makes them the primary villain of the atrocity. Gonzales, 18, is organizing anti-gun marches which use school children as the centerpiece.

Accompanying their activism is behavior seemingly designed to make any gun rights advocate angry. All three put blame on innocent people for various gun related things, including NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, whom Hogg has blamed for owning congressmen and not caring about children’s lives. Kasky comes off as arrogant and disrespectful to his opponents, just like he did with Sen. Marco Rubio. Gonzales isn’t much different. Unless you’re part of the gun control mob, the actions these kids engage in seem oftentimes below the belt. There’s a feeling of foul play when watching them on television, and viewing their Twitter feed will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

This doesn’t feel like concerned students trying to make change, but professionally driven activism with kids used as pawns. They aren’t just appearing on television shows to give their account, or their opinion, which they have more than every right to do. They’re engaging in something far larger, and far more dangerous.

This has, of course, resulted in attacks on them. The anger translates into action, and soon these kids are being hit with a tidal wave of anger and hate.

And this is exactly what those on the left want. Pro-gun advocates attacking kids is the look they were hoping for. Death threats are a best case scenario for them, but they’ll take cursing at them, calling them stupid, and making fun of them too.

Rest assured, their behavior is oftentimes childish and awful. Your anger is justified. However, the finger for their behavior should not solely be pointed at them. It should drift past their shoulders and land squarely on the parents and the fawning media pushing them from behind.

When you’re around the age that Kasky and Gonzales are, the drive to want to mean something and change the world is very strong. Without a doubt, these kids really do get the impression they’re doing good, and this is the way to achieve it. How could they not think that?

These kids were placed at the front of a titanic angry mob by a media hungry for a weapon who shouted “lead us,” with the mainstream media focusing every working lens they had directly on them. Even if you’re not that age, there is something very intoxicating about that. It makes you bold, confident, and important. Any criticism aimed your way is brushed aside by the fact that you have celebrities talking about and applauding you. Why listen to Loesch and her facts when you’ve got Ellen DeGeneres and Seth MacFarlane telling you how on the right track you are? Why even bother looking at the opposition’s statistics and figures when your current stances are getting you booked on popular shows?

If they did, even for a moment, relax their attacks or change their attitudes they would be dumped. In the back of their minds they know this, and their parents especially know this. All you have to do to see what happens to students who don’t keep up the show is look at the ones who disagree with people like Kasky and Hogg. The mainstream media does its level best to ignore people like Kyle Kashuv, who is more concerned about the actual government agencies that failed the slain students than attacking straw men like the NRA. Or Brian Entin, who was an eye witness to the cowardice of Broward County deputy Scot Peterson, who hid from the shooter instead of engaging him. Entin’s story pulls the narrative too far away from where the media needs it.

The parents of these teen activists are likely terrified of the idea of their child being so relegated to the shadows. Every parent wants their child to succeed, and what better success is there than national exposure and applause. Colleges may fight over these students for them to attend their universities, and they may receive cash donations from groups who love their message. Jobs may be made available to them. All the while they can beam with pride as their child succeeds.

But rest assured, Kasky, Hogg, Gonzales, et al are merely tools in the gun control advocacy tool box. Once their usefulness runs out — be it due to decreased interest, or some kind of event that harms their popularity — they will be discarded. That alone may be hard on them, to have so much voice, then lose it.

They also run the risk of angering that very mob they are currently leading. An angry mob’s power is rivaled only by its stupidity, and readiness to find a villain to unleash their stupidity on. The parents are allowing their children to engage in political activism, a battlefield both covered in figurative and literal blood, as a trade off for possible future gains. Never mind that doing so exposes them to extreme vitriol while it fosters vitriol in themselves. And the uncaring media is throwing them into the spotlight because they’re an effective weapon, cast aside as soon as they’re dulled.

The kids are being led, not leading, and they don’t know that. They can’t. Everything is stacking against their reason. Any inconvenient fact or statistic is immediately brushed aside by the cheering mob, the sympathetic talking head, or the celebrity applauding them for a change. They strike the attitudes they do about it because the only people looking to correct their approach are the very people arguing against their points.

I’m not at all saying that we can’t argue against them. By all means, counter every falsehood they have with facts. Call out their motives, and fight against any false narrative like your way of life depends on it, because it does. But remember that these kids have a lot of strings attached to them, and attacking the puppet for what the puppeteer is doing is futile.

Fight their narrative, but call out their parents for their irresponsibility, and the media for their uncaring use of these kids.