Maybe the Newtown shooting never happened. At least that's what Prof. James Tracy claimed on his blog on Dec. 24. Since then Sandy Hook conspiracy theories have overtaken the Web with overwhelming force and almost unprecedented vigor.
"You know in your heart that no one could walk into a school and start shooting defenseless little kids," Jay Johnson of SandyHookHoax.com wrote. "They are trying to alter mass perception of the human condition, so that people feel insecure and trust only the government to make things safe.
My name is Jay Johnson, and I created this website on 12/21/12."
Now Sandy Hook parents and countless gun-control advocates - who have been working tirelessly since the shooting on Dec. 14 to implement new bans on assault weapons - are panicked the Newtown conspiracy theory could cripple efforts to pass new legislation.
A petition has been filed by people associated with Florida Atlantic University, the school where James Tracy works, to fire the professor "for being a fear-mongering conspiracy theorist and trivializing the deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School."
Even if the Newtown conspiracy theories are discounted as paranoid propaganda, gun-control advocates contend that the hoax stories are gaining so much attention that they are drawing much-needed focus away from the issue at hand. It is believed that the people behind the conspiracy theories are NRA supporters who are afraid their guns will be taken away.
The National Rifle Association - a group that calls itself "America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights" - was long silent after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Though anti-gun advocates normally have no interest in hearing from the association formed in 1871, gun-control groups desperately wanted a statement, reaction or one-sentence comment. Anything to let parents and residents know that they empathize - or at least understand what they're going through.
Critics of the Fairfax, Va.-based association, which has 4.3 million members, have been looking for support from the organization since Dec. 14. But instead many feel the NRA's push to put more guns in schools - supposedly in an effort to protect our children - has been insulting at best.
Demands to increase gun-control regulation became deafening in December, with tens of thousands of U.S. citizens flocking to the White House's website to sign petitions. "Today IS the day," began a petition submitted by Chris C. of Joshua Tree, Calif., through the White House's "We the People" platform.
"Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress, read another, which almost immediately gained the 25,000 signatures necessary for a White House response.
Yet Newtown residents felt the NRA's official statement was insufficient. "The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters - and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown," the organization said in a statement. "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. has been working on an updated version of the assault-weapons ban that she spearheaded in 1994. The ban expired ten years later and has not been updated since. "I have been working with my staff for over a year on this legislation," Feinstein said in a statement issued Monday. "It will be carefully focused on the most dangerous guns ... while protecting the rights of gun owners."
The legislation would include "semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than ten rounds."
Twitter users have mixed opinions about the Newtown conspiracy theories:
Since the fateful day that 20-year-old Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and seven adults, countless conspiracy theories and hoaxes have made an already-awful incident infinitely worse.
One woman was arrested for posing as the aunt of Noah Pozner, the youngest victim in the Sandy Hook massacre. Convicted felon Jonathan Lee Riches was charged for posing as Adam Lanza's uncle. And another suspect claimed he was Ryan Lanza, the 24-year-old brother of the shooter, on Facebook.
As far as Jared Pins is concerned, he thinks Prof. Tracy may be on to something."Imagine if the Newton Shooting was a setup/hoax. Theres a lot of suspicious evidence that makes it seem like it possibly was," he tweeted on Jan. 8. And that's precisely why these conspiracy theories are dangerous.
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