For those who may not know, Port Arthur is a city in Tasmania, Australia. On April 28, 1996, a gunman killed 35 and wounded 23 before being captured by the police the following day. Like Sandy Hook, the atrocity shocked the nation’s people. The Australian government, in response, enacted strict gun control laws. We can see the echoes of this tragedy on our nation with the cries from the usual suspects for more gun control. Unfortunately, we are also seeing echoes of Port Arthur in the appearance of conspiracy theories that the government was the true culprit. (For a synopsis of the Port Arthur conspiracies and rebuking, I would recommend Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid episode. BTW, why aren’t you listening to every episode of this great podcast?) Just as we must take a stand to fight the onslaught of gun control measures being bandied about, we must also fight those that attempt to denigrate the horror of the event by claiming it was the work of a shadowy government like some B-movie plot.
This is perhaps the most dangerous time for gun owners since the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban. Our opponents and their willing myrmidons (look it up) in the media have a rag covered in children’s blood, and if waving won’t get them what they want, they’ll try to rub our collective noses in it to shame us. None of their proposals would have stopped the tragedy at Sandy Hook, but that doesn’t matter. As far is they’re concerned, now is their time and they intend to push it as far as they can. We must be willing to push back – hard. We must be willing to contact our senators and representatives. Ruger (yes, that Ruger) and Smith & Wesson (yes, that S&W) have tools to help let your elected officials know that you oppose any and all legislation that would curb your Second Amendment rights. It’s better to write your own letter, even better to call their offices. Even if your congress critter is solidly pro-gun or solidly anti-gun, make your voice heard. I think some of the other bloggers are right, and this may be the fight that decides the flow of the debate for the next decade.
As hard and nasty the fight against the antis is going to be, we must also fight against those who would perpetrate conspiracy theories about what happened that horrible morning at Sandy Hook. There are already YouTube videos of how there were multiple shooters, faked social media posts, and “crisis actors” brought in to pretend to be parents of “slain” children. The Blaze (which I’m not normally a fan of) does a great job of taking down most of these crank theories. Here, at least, we have allies who are often our opponents in the gun control debate – the skeptical community. This may be a chance for outreach to a community of individuals who are supposed to be swayed by reason and facts. Or at least proving that those conspiracy nuts are an infinitely small group of people who claim they are on our side of the debate.
One murderer has foisted on the gun community a slew of battles. We’ve lost some (New York) and won others (Chicago), but this is just the beginning. We must fight for our rights and for the truth behind those rights from all those that would threaten them.