‘Sandy Hook Truthers’ Crank Their Gun-Nuttery Up to the Max

A vile conspiracy theory is gaining traction in the gun rights community.

January 14, 2013  |  

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There’s been no shortage of delusional claims made by the gun manufacturers’ lobby and its allies in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Usually, they revolve around macho fantasies of gun owners heroically keeping their cool during surprise attacks, taking down mad gunmen without killing onlookers or being shot by arriving police. In the real world, of course, these are the kinds of people who tend to shoot themselves while  shopping for milk at Walmartrummaging around in their purses for lipstick or sleeping (sleeping can be really dangerous). 

But last week, Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported that a far more disturbing delusion is gaining traction on the fringes of the “gun rights” movement. Seitz-Wald calls them “Sandy Hook Truthers,” and he appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the phenomenon. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole show here).

Joshua Holland: Alex, Talking Points Memo reported this week that Joe Biden has given some hints of the recommendations that his Gun Control Task Force might offer as soon as next week. They’re talking about banning high-capacity magazines and mandating universal background checks. Did you know that as many as 40 percent of all firearm sales in this country are done without a background check?

Alex Seitz-Wald: Yes. It’s really unbelievable. This is the so-called “gun show loophole,” but it extends way beyond gun shows. I can go online on Craigslist right now and find a gun and buy it, without any kind of background check or oversight.

JH: Any private citizen who’s not a licensed firearms dealer can just sell a gun to anybody without doing anything. It’s just crazy. 

Anyway, we’re going to have a big fight on our hands against one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, the NRA, which represents the interests of firearms’ manufacturers. That fight is only coming, really, because 20 young children were cut down with a Bushmaster at a Connecticut school. That brings us to your report this week on Salon.com, which I found mindblowing. Alex, tell us about the worst Sandy Hook conspiracy theory out there.

ASW: Yes. This is really unbelievable — I could hardly believe it myself, but we all know about 9/11 truthers by now. These are the people who thought that 9/11 was an inside job. Now these folks — I’m calling them the “Sandy Hook truthers” — these are people, and there’s a surprising number of them, who think that the Sandy Hook massacre either didn’t happen or did happen, but was perpetrated by maybe government agents or crazy liberals.

There are different versions of the theory, all in an attempt to create a national movement for gun control. Obama or somebody killed all these little kids in order to get you and me to talk about guns and get the American people interested in gun control.

This was out there for a little while, but then it really picked up steam after they latched onto a girl named Emily Parker. She was a 6-year-old who was killed, and her father has been pretty active in the media. There was a funeral service in Utah, where the governor spoke, and that got a lot of attention. A photo emerged of her sister, sitting on Obama’s lap when he went and visited the family. The girl is wearing the same dress that Emily was wearing in a photo that the family had distributed to the media. To the Internet conspiracy theorists, it must be the same girl. Emily Parker must be alive! Therefore, the whole thing was a hoax.