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I'm not sure I would say Sandy Hook conspiracy theories are "edging towards the mainstream," as this article suggests (as much or more of the recent interest can be attributed to normal people gawking at them, not true believers, I think), but it's true that they are surprisingly commonplace among, well, morons. And make no mistake, we're talking about grade-A level morons here. Huge morons:
The evidence on which these budding theories are based is, even by the standards of fringe conspiracy theory, remarkably thin, and demand massive collusion between hundreds of private citizens, the federal government, local authorities, and the news media.

The theorists claim some of the parents and witnesses are paid actors who, because they don't shed tears on camera, are pretending their children died. The "Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed" video shows a photo of children hugging Obama during a visit to Newtown. The theorists claim one of the little girls is Emilie Parker, who was killed in the shooting. The little girl, who shares many of Emilie's features, is her sister.

If that right there doesn't make you want to run out and pass a new law saying it's alright to slap some of these folks with a 2-by-4, well, maybe you need to have your assault-with-imaginary-lumber instincts recalibrated.

So why, aside from America's great and wide collection of stupid people, are people inventing conspiracy theories about a horrific mass murder? It's important to remember that for the most part these people were already spectacularly stupid conspiracy theorists before the Sandy Hook shootings ever happened. The wider Sandy Hook "conspiracy" is, supposedly, that the federal government faked the whole thing in order to finally, at long last, get around to confiscating all the guns that they've been supposed to be confiscating for, hell, decades now but never quite managed. It's not particularly surprising that the particular band of loons and misfits who already believed the earlier conspiracies are just as eager to believe that the conspiracy now goes "even deeper," or whatever the hell they believe.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

This is the difference between the vast majority of American gun owners/users and the true obsessives, people for whom "guns, everywhere" is something between a personal mantra and a national battle cry. And it's distinctly based in the militia and white supremacy movements, movements that the National Rifle Association has increasingly aligned itself, when it comes to policy prescriptions. Note that in the earlier story of a Newtown resident receiving phone calls and hate mail over his supposed involvement in the "conspiracy," many attacks were based on "white supremacist message boards" attacking him as that "emotional Jewish Guy." It's not exactly subtle.

These are the people who believe, in their core, that rebellion is just around every corner. They're the ones whose lives are devoted to the "gun culture," and to whom the notion of "defending our freedom" against the government by, if and when the moment ever comes, shooting at the government from the confines of their pre-built bunkers. These are the people who believe the government is always coming after their guns, but whose conviction of that reached a deafening pitch the moment the first non-white president was elected to the office; these are the people who originated all the conspiracy theories that the NRA now mainstreams to its entire member base as supposedly legitimate fears. Naturally, they see the murder of other people's kids as just part of the wider conspiracy to make sure they don't have enough personal guns and ammunition to protect themselves from some new American Hitler (or the ATF, or the FBI, or the local sheriff, for that matter).

And it's the reason "Gun Appreciation Day" was scheduled for the same weekend as the president's inauguration and, coincidence of coincidences, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. An event that was co-sponsored in part by an actual white nationalist group, just in case that connection wasn't already painted in large enough letters.

Believing that a monstrous shooting incident is nothing more than a staged event to plot against you and your interests is perhaps the most narcissistic thing I can think of, so believing in this particular conspiracy theory might be a fine indicator, in one fell swoop, of which people in America can be safely relegated to the moron bin. It should be noted, however, how much the current NRA stokes the wider conspiracy that have these same nuts stockpiling ammo and rushing out, after each new mass murder, to purchase the killer's preferred gun. According to the NRA and other militia-inclined groups, there is no substantive difference between (1) pursuing (or even researching, if you're a government scientist) gun safety or restricting public access to certain gun configurations specifically designed to invoke mass carnage, and (2) banning every gun in America outright; we have been blocked from doing the former because the NRA has mounted an ongoing campaign to stoke fears that they will really result in the latter.

That's the supreme irony of all this. (Did I say irony? I meant fury.) We are told that we currently have the Right Amount of mass murders, because having any fewer would infringe on a very, very narrow set of conspiracy-minded people who want to reserve the right to commit mass murders of their own, so long as those murders coincide with the "right" political purpose. That the NRA and congress caters to this crowd, people for whom a "traditional way of life" has profoundly racist, distinctly anarchist overtones is a question that we should have been asking earlier. When we can't regulate gun safety because certain groups insist on the right to "defend themselves from the government," we're doing it wrong. Ten rounds instead of 30 will do, sport. There are certain places where a decent person has no business wandering around with a gun. If you have a son who is clearly mentally unbalanced, maybe keeping an arsenal in your home to defend against an imaginary breakdown of society should come second to rational contemplation as to whether you want that kind of weaponry accessible to him. We can't legislate common sense, but Christ—we certainly have a right to make sure other people's conspiracy theories can't kill us with as much regularity, and lethality, as the conspiracy theorists say we should be inuring ourselves to.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 01:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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