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Sandy Hook massacre

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Conspiracy theorists erase the human aspect of history. My child — who lived, who was a real person — is basically going to be erased.
—Lenny Pozner, father of Sandy Hook murder victim Noah Pozner[1]

On December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a gunman attacked and killed twenty children and six teachers before committing suicide. The shooting did not serve well for the pro-gun ideologues, thus provoking them to create a plethora of excuses and dismissals of the massacre.

Wingnut excuses[edit]

For the most part, the clogosphere is in total agreement that liberals were somehow to blame. Certainly, there's no other explanation. The idea that a mentally-unstable American could possibly inflict violence upon others using a tool which makes it incredibly easy to do so and is found in abundance in America — the only country on Earth where such regularly happens — is preposterous.

Religion and social issues[edit]

  • Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential primary candidate, blamed it on separation of church and state: "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools."[2]
    • After sane people everywhere pointed out how stupid that was, he walked it back. "I'm not suggesting by any stretch that if we had prayer in schools regularly as we once did that this wouldn't have happened, because you can't have that kind of cause and effect. But we’ve created an atmosphere in this country where the only time you want to invoke God's name is after the tragedy."[3]
    • Not chastened by his previous stupidity, Huckabee then decided to blame it on the rejection of "natural law" and the "natural family of a father and mother". Yes, the evil gaysdidit.[4]
  • Professional homophobe Bryan Fischer also blamed separation of church and state. "God is not going to go where he is not wanted."[5] Because Jesus never hung out with sinners (Mark 2:15).
  • The Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to picket the school "to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment."[6][7] The 6-year-olds were probably 'fag enablers' or somesuch.
  • Glenn Beck said it was "because of the ever expanding lack of self control & personal responsibility."[8]
  • Pastor Sam Morris from the Old Paths Baptist Church in Tennessee blamed the teaching of evolution and "how to be a homo" in public schools, and said that abortion is a far worse problem.[9][10] The victims' parents might beg to differ.
  • Eric Hovind—son of creationist tax fraudster Kent Hovind—hopped on to Twitter to also blame secularism: "Are you happy now that the shooter grew up in a school without God?"[11][12]
    • He later gave a notpology on Facebook by saying that his tweet was "poorly worded" but quoted a passage expressing similar sentiments.[13]
  • James Dobson from Focus on the Family blamed abortion and same-sex marriage,[14] because obviously so much of both was happening on campus.
  • Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association said it was because of Satan![15]
  • Steve Deace, a right-wing radio host, said that it was because of, let's see, a "culture of death" in public schools, secularism, "movies glorifying the occult and gory violence," abortion and a school which required students to write suicide notes in class.[16] Which apparently did happen... in France, once.[17] Quite how that would affect a man in Connecticut is left as an exercise for the reader. At least he forgot to include Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Ray Comfort said it was because America has "lost its fear of God."[18]
  • Victoria Jackson said the shooting happened because America had "forgotten the Ten Commandments" (as if we could forget them). She also linked the shootings to abortions[19] (retroactive ones, perhaps?).
  • WND editor and comedy moustache owner Joseph Farah also blamed secularism and the removal of mandatory prayer from public schools and warned that if gun control measures were established, God would punish us more.[20]
  • The National Review's Charlotte Allen claimed that the lack of men on the premises contributed, as "a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm."[21] While a call to encourage more men to cross traditional gender roles and become teachers would be commendable, that was unlikely to be Allen's intent—though it's unclear what exactly schools were supposed do in order to have more men on campus.
  • The National Rifle Association blamed violent video games, specifically pointing to, among other things, a decade-old, little-known Flash game called Kindergarten Killer.[22] Nice dodge, guys.
  • Sherri Tenpenny, a prominent antivax campaigner, blamed vaccines.[23] Shots, get it?
  • Actress Suzanne Somers speculated that Lanza's diet and exposure to toxins and household chemicals may have caused him to go insane.[24]

Not enough guns[edit]

  • Short Little Rebel, a Christian conservative blogger, thinks the government did it: "I believe there is evidence of more than one shooter. I believe this was a PLANNED event- specifically to get the UN Small Arms Treaty signed."[25]
  • Andy Schlafly, the owner of Conservapedia, blamed the shooting on video games and said that it wouldn't have happened "if laws banning guns for self defense in public school were repealed."[26] How these two are related is anyone's guess.
  • Ann Coulter agrees, claiming that "only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws."[27] Citation needed, Ann.
  • Megan McArdle thinks that "the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun." Supposedly, this would reduce the body count, when most likely it would just increase the chances of one person getting close enough to attempt to disarm the shooter while said person's friends were killed.[28]
  • According to Louie Gohmert, the principal should have "had an M4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out …and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids."[29] Oh, and not miss and hit the students instead.
  • According to Alex Jones, the whole massacre didn't even happen and the victims and the shooter were all crisis actors. Many supporters of this theory also said the same about the Parkland shooting.

The marketing potential of tragedy[edit]

  • In a blog post on December 15th, woo-author Mike Bara wrote the nauseating cliché wise and profound thought "out of tragedy we have at least one more proof that we are all connected, that there is a Force of love out there that binds us all together. Such proof can at least give us hope and comfort knowing that there is something beyond this crude, material existence we all inhabit."

....and just incidentally, mentioned his recently-published book three (3) times.

  • After the massacre, sales of bullet-proof backpacks for children enjoyed an increase.[30]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

As with September 11, Sandy Hook has attracted conspiracy theorists who question or deny the official account or even whether the incident took place at all. These denialists are sometimes referred to as Sandy Hook "truthers".[31]

  • Over at The Daily Paul, a website dedicated to libertarian hero Ron Paul, they believe it didn't happen and is just a giant hoax. So that Obama can take away yer guns!![32]
  • A professor of Florida Atlantic University promoted Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, claiming that evidence had been forged or hidden and that eye-witnesses such as medical personnel may actually have been trained "crisis actors" employed by the Obama administration in a stunt to promote gun control.[33]
  • Clyde Lewis, a nationally-syndicated radio crackpot, has speculated on air that the massacre was "faked" and the grieving parents of Sandy Hook were "crisis actors." He said the timing of the massacre was suspicious because it was at "about the same time that Barack Obama told the U.N. that he would sign the small arms treaty."[34][35]
  • Sandy Hook truthers have even started targeting Gene Rosen, a local resident who sheltered six Sandy Hook students who had fled the school. Conspiracy theorist websites are claiming he's an actor and a fraud and have been making anti-Semitic remarks. Classy.[36]
  • James H. Fetzer claimed "Mossad death squads" were responsible.[37]
  • Some theorists suggest a connection with the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, pointing out a scene in the film in which a map of Gotham City briefly appears with an area labeled "Sandy Hook" and marked as "Strike Zone 1". These theories also connect the Sandy Hook shooting with the Aurora shootings, which took place at the film's release in July 2012, since the name "Aurora" also appears briefly within the movie.[38] This is less remarkable, however, as the name appears in neon lights on the Aurora Plaza, a distinctive skyscraper on the waterfront of Shanghai's financial district which would be visible in pretty much any aerial shot of downtown Shanghai.[39] Why details of a supposedly government-planned series of shootings should be hidden as subliminal messages in a Hollywood blockbuster remains unexplained.
  • The kids murdered during the shooting were at the Superbowl[40]
  • That Sandy Hook was closed 5 years prior[41]
  • Jews A guy named Peter Lanza caused it.[42]
  • Psychiatric medication made Lanza do it. This is, in part, inspired by an interview given by a man claiming to be the shooter's uncle "Jonathan Lanza", who told the New York Post that his "nephew" had been taking Fanapt, an antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia. The uncle was later revealed to be convicted con artist Jonathan Lee Riches, who was arrested for violating his parole by traveling to Connecticut to visit Lanza's house.[43]

And of course, what would be a conspiracy theory without a good ol' Pseudo-Documentary?[44]

In May 2019, an FBI memo from the Phoenix Field Office designated several political conspiracy theories (QAnon, Pizzagate, HAARP, New World Order, Sandy Hook) as domestic threats with the potential to incite violence.[45][46] As evidence, the FBI cited arrests for criminal activities associated with the conspiracy theories.[46]

The gun control debate[edit]

None of these angry people had much to say about the easy availability of guns in the United States. Quite a lot of other people did. The shooter's mother, whom he had murdered before driving to the school, was a gun nut and survivalist who, despite Connecticut's supposed tightness of gun laws, had legally obtained multiple rifles and handguns, including a semi-automatic AR-15-type rifle (which was used for all but one of the deaths).

MSNBC contributor Joe Scarborough, a noted gun rights advocate, announced in an editorial that he had reversed his position on unrestricted access to firearms because of the tragedy.[47] He was joined by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.[48]


In all our years of helping families who have lost loved ones under horrific circumstances, we have never seen victims subjected to this kind of malicious cruelty.
—Lead attorney for Sandy Hook parents[49]

As if attacking the memory of the victims was not bad enough, some hoaxers have taken to harassing the families of the victims. Hoaxer Lucy Richards pleaded guilty to making death threats against parent Lenny Pozner in 2017.[50] In 2016, hoaxer Matthew Mills received a suspended sentence for intimidating the family of murder victim Victoria Soto.[51] In 2014, hoaxer Andrew David Truelove was convicted of stealing Sandy Hook memorial signs.[52] On August 6, 2018, Facebook and YouTube suspended Alex Jones' channels over use of those channels to incite harassment against the Pozners. Whether or not that standard is applied consistently remains to be seen.

In April 2018, parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook sued conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation, citing, in part, that Jones' continued claims that the massacre was a hoax inspired people to harass and taunt the survivors.[53][54] This resulted in multiple judgments against Jones with staggering punitive fines; a nearly $50 million verdict against Jones in August 2022;[55] and a nearly $1.5 billion verdict against Jones in October through November 2022.[56][57]

In 2019, Jeremy Richman killed himself; he was the father of one of the children murdered in the massacre.[58] His widow attested in court that the family had been harassed by conspiracy theorists, including by flooding the family's post-shooting foundation with emails claiming their daughter never existed; some "investigated" the cemetery where their daughter was buried to look for Jeremy Richman's corpse. She added that this sort of harassment had compounded their grief.[59] Alex Jones responded to Jeremy Richman's suicide with yet more conspiracy-mongering, and doubted it was in fact a suicide: "We have no idea whether he was even murdered at this point. Why would some anti-gun guy do this? This is really sad. My prayers go out to him and his family and we wish for the truth of whatever really happened here to come out. We don't know yet. And we'll see the corporate media say outrageous lies, but it's what they do."[60][61] The police found no actual reason to consider the death suspicious,[62] and an autopsy found it was consistent with a suicide.[63]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The Sandy Hook Hoax: Lenny Pozner used to believe in conspiracy theories. Until his son’s death became one by Reeves Wiedeman (September 5, 2016 9:00 pm) New York Magazine.
  2. Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We've 'Systematically Removed God' From Schools, Huffington Post
  3. Mike Huckabee Explains Bizarre Claim That God's Absence From Sandy Hook Led To Massacre, Huffington Post
  4. Republican Mike Huckabee: The Newtown shootings were the fault of gay people, Pink News
  5. Fischer: God Didn't Stop CT School Shooting Because He's a 'Gentleman' Who Doesn't Go Where He Is Not Wanted, Right Wing Watch
  6. Reports: As Newtown Plans Burials For Shooting Victims, Westboro Baptist Church Prepares To Picket, CBS Local New York.
  7. Anonymous Vows To 'Destroy' Westboro Baptist Church Over Plan To Picket Sandy Hook Funerals
  8. Glenn Beck tweet
  9. Tennessee pastor: Mass shootings because schools teach evolution and ‘how to be a homo’, Raw Story
  10. I weep for America, Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True
  11. Stay classy, Eric Hovind., Unreasonable Faith
  12. Hovind's utter lack of class prompted theologian James F. McGrath to call him a "lowlife pseudochristian" and suggest to him that he ought to read the read the Book of Job
  13. Eric Hovind's Facebook
  14. Dobson: Connecticut Shooting was God Allowing 'Judgment to Fall Upon Us' for Turning Our Back on Him, Right Wing Watch
  15. Wildmon: Satan Carried Out the Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Right Wing Watch
  16. Steve Deace Ties Connecticut Shooting to Public Schools' 'Culture of Death', Right Wing Watch
  17. French teacher suspended for asking pupils to write suicide notes,
  18. Connecticut School Shooting... Why???, Way of the Master (just after 3m mark).
  19. Ex-SNL star Victoria Jackson links massacre to abortion
  20. Expect more Sandy Hooks, not fewer, WND
  21. National Review writer’s offensive Newtown theory
  22. "So Who Made Kindergarten Killer, Anyway? Kotaku. 21 Dec. 2012.
  23. Tenpenny facebook post 2012
  25. URGENT UPDATE on Connecticut Shooting, Short Little Rebel
  26. diffimg
  27. We know how to stop school shootings
  28. McArdle Wins Worst Newtown Reaction Award
  29. Louie Gohmert Says More Guns Are Answer To Preventing Mass Killings
  30. "Since Newtown school shootings, sales of kids’ bulletproof backpacks soar," Washington Post, 20 December 2012.
  31. Salon, "Meet the Sandy Hook truthers", January 9, 2013.
  32. The Daily Paul, "Sandy Hook: The Evidence Compiled - In One Place. What do we KNOW for Sure that ISN'T Hearsay?", December 21, 2012.
  33. Sun Sentinel, "FAU prof stirs controversy by disputing Newtown massacre", January 7, 2013.
  36. This man helped save six children, is now getting harassed for it, Salon
  37. Mossad death squads slaughtered American children at Sandy Hook, Press TV
  38. Digital Journal, "Sandy Hook labeled in Batman film, conspiracies light up Internet", December 20, 2012.
  39. See the Wikipedia article on Aurora Plaza.
  43. Sandy Hook Hoaxer Busted By Federal Agents.
  45. FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat by Jana Winter (August 1, 2019) Yahoo News.
  46. 46.0 46.1 (U//LES) Anti-Government, Identity Based, and Fringe Political Conspiracy Theories Very Likely Motivate Some Domestic Extremists to Commit Crminal, Sometimes Violent Activity (30 May 2019) FBI Phoenix Field Office via Scribd.
  48. Newtown shootings: Gun debate flares as funerals begin
  49. Jamiles Lartey (April 17, 2018). "Sandy Hook parents sue Infowars host Alex Jones for defamation". The Guardian.
  50. Sandy Hook hoaxer gets prison time for threatening 6-year-old victim’s father by Derek Hawkins (June 8, 2017 at 4:04 AM) The Washington Post.
  51. Sandy Hook 'truther' gets suspended sentence by Daniel Tepfer (Updated 4:10 pm, Monday, April 18, 2016) Connecticut Post.
  52. Mystic playground sign thief gets jail time in Virginia by Micael Souza (August 20, 2014 09:03AM) The Westerly Sun.
  53. Sandy Hook parents sue conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation. Reuters, 17 April 2018.
  54. Matthew Haag, Sandy Hook Parents Sue Alex Jones for Defamation. The New York Times, 17 April 2018.
  55. "Alex Jones ordered to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $45M in punitive damages" by Katherine Faulders, Teddy Grant, and Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 2022 August 5
  56. "Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million in Sandy Hook defamation trial" by Aaron Katersky and Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 2022 October 12
  57. "Infowars host Alex Jones ordered to pay $473m more to Sandy Hook families", Reuters, 2022 November 10
  58. Emily Shapiro (March 28, 2019). "After Sandy Hook dad's apparent suicide, wife says he 'succumbed to the grief that he could not escape'". ABC News.
  59. Dave Collins and Pat Eaton-Robb (September 21, 2022). "Sandy Hook families testify about threats, fear of deniers". The Associated Press.
  60. Tim Adams (March 31, 2019). "Sandy Hook’s tragic legacy: seven years on, a loving father is the latest victim". The Guardian.
  61. Daniel Moritz-Rabson (March 26, 2019). "Alex Jones Promotes Conspiracy About Death of Sandy Hook Father Jeremy Richman". Newsweek.
  62. John Bacon (March 25, 2019). "Father of Sandy Hook victim latest apparent suicide after deadly school shootings". USA Today.
  63. Nicholas Rondinone (March 27, 2019). "Autopsy confirms Sandy Hook father Jeremy Richman’s death as suicide". Hartford Courant.