I’m sickened by the extremes to which pro-gun activists go to reinforce their Second Amendment beliefs. There are arguments to be made for why various firearms should be kept legal; however, the tactics that some use to diminish lives lost from gun violence and bully those families that have suffered through these tragedies is truly appalling.

The Sandy Hook shooting is one tragic event that most Americans will never forget. On Dec. 14, 2014, a lone gunman, armed with high-capacity weapons, stormed a suburban school in Newtown, Connecticut, and viciously murdered 20 six-year-olds along with six staff. The sheer brutality of the attack on such young children was unprecedented.

Imagine the fear that community experienced when they learned about the shooting. Imagine the grief that the parents of those 20 first-graders felt when they weren’t reunited with their children. Imagine the pain these families must endure every day.

Now imagine someone claiming that your fear, your pain, your loss, is a hoax. That’s exactly what right-wing provocateur Alex Jones did when he asserted repeatedly that the Sandy Hook shooting was nothing more than a government conspiracy. His cruel actions were intended to create doubt among his audience and, ultimately, prevent any gun control measures from being proposed.

For years, Jones and his conspiracy theorist henchman relentlessly tormented the victims’ parents, traveling to Newtown to harass the families and spread ridiculous claims that their children were still alive. Jones continuously aired false reports and, to his audience, legitimized these cruel lies.

It’s hard to believe anyone would trust the rants of a madman over the pleas of grieving parents. It is hard to imagine anyone being so hateful as to attack families that had endured such a horrific experience.

Yet, Alex Jones persisted, while his trusting audience watched on.

So now, what does Jones say about the latest Newtown casualty? Dr. Jeremy Richman, a grieving father, recently took his own life after struggling for seven years to cope with the loss of Avielle, his beloved daughter. Jones and his crew tormented Dr. Richman and his wife, who after the shooting, had established a foundation in their daughter’s name to combat violence through research and community engagement.

Will Jones deny the death of Avielle’s father, too?

Now, Jones is blaming his lies and cruel acts on a form of psychosis. It’s his latest defense as defamation lawsuits mount against him by the grieving families who have grown weary from his profiting off their heartbreak.

In depositions in the Jones case, we learned that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has also pursued conspiracy theory tactics, through a long-time employee, by attempting to disseminate lies about the 2018 Parkland Florida school shooting, when 17 students and faculty were shot and killed.

The ripple effect of gun violence is unending; for the families that are directly impacted, the anguish never recedes. To manipulate these tragedies as a way to promote doubt and conspiracy is beyond forgivable.

Within a week of Dr. Richman’s suicide, two survivors of the Parkland school shooting had also taken their own lives. Sydney Aiello suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and survivor’s remorse after losing her best friend in the shooting. An underclassman followed suit mere days later.

Once the cameras recede and the public’s memory fades, the families are left to pick up the pieces of their lives and establish some sense of normalcy. This is a difficult process even without the concerted effort of vicious profiteers who will stop at nothing to promote their own agenda.

Alex Jones and his channel of misinformation continues to bleed lies. The NRA continues to be the most powerful pro-gun lobbying force in America, yielding influence in Congress while assailing innocent victims of gun violence on any willing media outlet.

Dr. Richman often quoted this phrase by A.J. Herchel: “Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

I could not agree more.

We should especially have higher standards when it comes to our nation’s leadership. Our elected officials must act responsibly and condemn, not only the acts of shooters, but also public voices like the NRA and Jones, who delegitimize, harass and further harm innocent victims of gun violence.

Faraguna is a founding member of Susquehanna Valley Progress.

(1) comment

Schreff

Another ridiculous statement from Progressives which are evolving into the new Socialist Democrats. Their policies would end our Republic and replace it with radical unaffordable socialism instead. These same Socialists are saying the world will end in 12 years unless the USA supports and pays the lion's share to combat global warming when the fallacy is China, et al are the true cause thus the results will be the same as they we're under the 16 years of a failed Obama administration. Seems strange that these progressive socialists are concerned with gun violence but support the murder of babies even after they are born....look at their VA governor and NY legislature for proof. Seems strange that they talk about compassion on the border but support sanctuary cities which hide illegal aliens and support letting them to vote. Seems strange that these illegal aliens get greater benefits than senior citizens and those who want to work and contribute to society. Their progressive leaders have done nothing to support working with conservatives in DC to address the problems caused by Congress in the past, Seems strange that these progressives don't want to keep the southern border safe by supporting WALLS they supported in the past under Obama. Seems strange that they attack gun control when Obama had 8 years to address his hometown Chicago which is the murder capital of the world. Seems strange when progressives don't tell the truth about the cause of gun violence which is the moral decay of our society and the resulting mental health deterioration which has been happening for over two decades, Seems strange that now the Pelosi Progressive House Majority is more interested in wasting time and money in investigating President Trump instead of working with conservatives to get something done. Already President Trump is the most investigated President ever and yet the proof so far is that Hillary, the corrupt upper management of the FBI, NSA, CIA and DOJ has committed treasonous crimes under a system of justice for which progressive/socialist are innocent and conservatives are guilty and must prove their innocence. Seems strange that our economy in the areas of unemployment is at the lowest for blacks, Hispanics, women and youth in the history of our Country but the partner, Fake News, doesn't report this. Seems strange that their unacceptance of President Trump's victory has created a new mental disease called Trump Derangement System which is further dividing our Country. Where have the true JFK Democrats gone along with the sincere non radical Progressives who were for we the people instead of we the illegal aliens, we the socialist, and we the FREE STUFF lovers.

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