We Should Be Talking About the Uvalde Victims' Families
There's currently no hope for gun control.
I could write about the need for gun control in the wake of the Uvalde massacre. The need for basic qualifications for gun ownership. How it’s insane that there are more restrictions on driving a car - not an inherently violent object - than on owning a gun.
Why beat a dead horse though? Especially when that horse was dead on arrival. There is currently no hope for gun legislation at a federal level for two reasons: (i) no Republican would ever agree to any restriction whatsoever (even the most minor) thanks to the NRA; and (ii) no Democratic effort could ever succeed without removing the filibuster which Senators Manchin and Sinema won’t do.
And it’s likely after this upcoming Supreme Court term that gun legislation at the state level will be significantly curtailed. My guess: the conservative majority will limit what restrictions states can put on concealed guns. Fellow New Yorkers, expect concealed guns on the subway soon!
There is little reason to waste time on any of these aforementioned topics because their futures are currently sealed. Welcome to America in 2022. Where Republicans and the conservative legal movement have orchestrated a bold theocratic takeover of America.
Why we should be talking about the Uvalde victims’ families instead
Remember the Sandy Hook school shooting? Many of us shared the same outrage then. Nothing changed.
But many conservatives and far right pundits did something different after Sandy Hook. They blamed everything but the guns. Even the Sandy Hook families.
Alex Jones in particular propagated conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook shooting wasn’t real. The victims’ parents were actors. This lie compounded on others.
It led to defamation lawsuits against Jones. He had to file for bankruptcy.
Although he has not gone to the same lengths this time following the Uvalde shooting, he has still taken a few laps in the conspiracy theory pool.
What’s worse, others are following his playbook. Granted, this has (as of this writing) occurred only at the fringes of conservatism. But the conspiracy theories abound. From the citizenship status of the shooter and whether he was transgender, to whether the entire event was a federal government hoax.
Thanks largely to Alex Jones, this has become the standard playbook for the far right following a mass shooting. Especially a school shooting. Many of these people are convinced that the government is coming for their guns.
This irrational fear will likely lead them to follow Jones’ footsteps towards the Uvalde families. The fact these families are going through likely the hardest times of their lives are of no concern to these conspiracy theorists. For many of them, the Uvalde victims’ families are not even real people.
It starts with social media
Harassment directed at the victims’ families starts with social media. And it’s not only far right, fringe platforms. Reddit pages even allow some of these baseless theories to persist and grow.
Many of these conspiracy theorists do not have the public profile of an Alex Jones. But harassment is harassment. Yes, someone famous (or infamous) like Jones can spread disinformation of that nature more quickly, but enough individual conspiracy theorists can still cause damage. Against people who need it the least.
Which is why I’ve previously called for social media drivers licenses. Not that removing anonymity online would completely deter anyone. But potentially facing multimillion dollar defamation suits like Alex Jones might. Instead, most of these posters can hide behind anonymity and spread baseless lies about the Uvalde shooting.
Social media platforms should watch closely how the far right playbook plays out here. So long as public attention focuses on this disastrous event, the conspiracies will compound and intensify.
They will likely turn to the Uvalde victims’ families next. For the far right, there are no limits when it comes to gun rights.