MIAMI – Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on Thursday ripped people who are bullying student protesters in the wake of the shootings that killed 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Fla.
And for the first time since the incident, he advocated for laws that would make it more difficult for Americans to get guns.
Rizzo had especially harsh words for those who have spread rumors that the children and teenagers who spoke at rallies in Washington were actors hired by anti-gun activists.
“I think they’re losers. That’s what I think, to be honest,’’ he said. “You hear all these things and it’s like, ‘How can you even say this? Where’s your heart? Where’s your sense of sympathy?’ It’s as real as it gets. If you don’t think it’s real, go there. It’s crazy to hear that.’’
Rizzo is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly went on a shooting spree Feb. 14, killing 17 and injuring 17 more. Rizzo has been very public in his support of the school since the incident, but he made his strongest statements on the shootings Thursday before the Cubs’ opener against the Marlins.
“You’ve got these extremists,’’ he said. “You’ve got the people who are going for all the gun laws and they’re going to the full extreme. Then you’ve got the other side that is defending them that is going full extreme that we’re taking away rights.
“I don’t think that’s the message. I think the message is somewhere in the middle that everyone can agree on. For them to get bullied on Twitter by someone with strong fingers, I think it’s pretty funny. I know for a fact that they’re not going to let anything affect them and their mission because what they’re doing is bigger than themselves. It’s for a lot of people.’’
Rizzo said he wants to see laws that would make it more difficult for people to get guns.
“I play first base for the Cubs,” he said. “But in a perfect world, make it stricter. Make background checks a little harder to get these guns. I think it’s a little too easy to go in there and get a gun. I think pretty much the entire nation can agree on that. There are a number of other things.
“My biggest thing is that, if you can get make it harder to get guns, hopefully it eliminates a little bit of the problems.’’
He said he senses a change in public thinking, thanks to the young protesters.
“We’ve never seen this before in our country,’’ he said. “We’ve never seen 11-year-olds speaking at a rally, multiple 11-year olds, six-year-olds. I think that the nation is listening. I think there are some politicians that are maybe shaking a little bit, a little nervous. You’ve got to keep going. (The students have) to keep going, fighting for what they believe in.’’