“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”  —  Soren Kirkegaard

When you disseminate most of the recent conspiracy theories surrounding large scale events in the USA, the apparent motive for the government staging these elaborate mass shooting “hoaxes” will invariably come down to a single issue in the mind of those who promote and propagate these theories: gun control.

Evidently, in order for the “hoax” narrative to make any kind of coherent sense, there has to be an ultimate agenda at play, and the immortal line “they’re coming to take your guns” is oft-seen trotted out in the aftermath of these events by paranoid truthers who live in perpetual fear of seeing their second amendment rights compromised and safeguards applied to the ownership of firearms.

First among the myriad of issues to address with this rather infantile notion is that nobody is “coming to take your guns.” Advocates of more stringent gun control legislation rarely call for a complete blanket ban on ownership- most Americans recognize the gravitas of the constitutional right to bear arms and the gargantuan clout of the NRA and pro-gun lobbyists, and therefore accept the futility of criminalising ownership across the board. The plea is usually merely for more sensible safeguards to ensure that lethal weaponry does not easily fall into the hands of those who might be inclined to go and kill people with it.

But to the mind of a conspiracy theorist, this matters not. The counter will always be that these measures are merely a means to an end as part of an eventual plan to disarm the entire nation and enact some manner of military control over an unsuspecting populace. Orwellian nightmares loom large in the conscious mind of the truther; insistent always that we are on the brink of a totalitarian crisis. For them, the precious issue of gun ownership has become synonymous with the very fundamental concept of freedom, and any perceived attempt to infringe upon this right is therefore indicative of a deprivation of their basic liberty.

And so the “truth movement”, the term which loosely describes a small collective of Yotubers and social media posters, has become primarily concerned NOT with “truth seeking” or presenting socio-political issues, or even cogent research- in many ways it has become largely a front for the protection of the Second Amendment. The vehemence people feel on the topic and the natural associations that Americans attach to the issue have become the chief means by which they drum up support from those who have lost themselves in a tidal wave of fear porn. Because to a “truther”, nothing is real. Everything is designed to systematically strip you of your rights and subjugate you further. No victim is sacred, no perpetrator is guilty, the families and friends of those affected are perpetually accused of being fakes and crisis actors and people who are somehow complicit in these impossibly convoluted government plots.

And to anybody who has studied this in depth with their objectivity intact can see in the inherent fallacy in this. There is a “gun crisis” in the US, and people are dying at the hands of dangerous individuals who are armed with lethal weaponry. The NRA’s position that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is becoming obsolete and seems petulant at a time when innocent people are being indiscriminately massacred in their schools, homes and churches. The debate needs to take place in earnest without lies and distortion being put out to an increasingly disillusioned and bewildered population. Belief in conspiracy theories is becoming more and more common with the advert of the Internet and the ease of communication; and while there are undoubtedly real conspiracies and real

research is often done to uncover corruption and fraud online; these are not the cartoonish, illogical and downright misleading click-bait that appears following these tragedies, which demonize those affected and seek to absolve the shooter of responsibility.

The aftermath of any mass shooting is now invariably followed by a cascade of videos and articles which are quick to point holes in the “official story” by using video/picture artifacts, inconsistencies in reporting or the perceived behavior of those associated as “proof” that the event was a false flag. When family members open the dialogue on the topic of gun control, this is greeted with a resounding chorus of jeers and boos from the braying mass, who can then begin to take extraordinary measures to seek out personal details for that person in order to explain them away as a “crisis actor”. The rather more mundane truth that people who have just lost a loved one to a gun-wielding maniac are wont to lament the availability of such weaponry, rather seems to be lost on those who seek to make an example of out of those who are suffering the most.

This backward thinking is counter-productive at best and dangerous at worst. Slowly, the realization that tighter gun control legislation will have to be passed is dawning.

The resistance from those who cannot accept this inevitability is strangely akin to watching a child throw a tantrum when a toy has to be forcibly removed from his quivering hands. It’s little surprise that some of these shooters turn out to be conspiracy theorists themselves, as in the case of the Oregon massacre recently. Incidentally the shooter was taught to “love guns” by his mother. Interestingly, the sheriff assigned to the case is a fierce opponent of gun control himself, who entertained and shared Sandy Hook conspiracy theories on social media, and is now rightly facing calls to resign.

It’s a thorny issue, and a debate which will continue to rage on the basis of the importance of the constitution versus the ever evolving technological and social challenges this brings. There is an important counterpoint with regard to the increased criminalisation of gun ownership when we consider the possibility of renegade black markets being cultivated in the wake of such measures.

But this debate needs to happen within a culture of honesty and sensibility. These reckless, baseless claims about mass shootings being “psyops” or other such nonsense are muddying the issue and ultimately dragging unnecessary questions of first amendment rights into the melting pot as well. It’s healthy to question corporate media and consider alternative perspectives on current events. It’s healthy to debate important social issues between ourselves. But this does not, and should not, include the systematic targeting of innocent families, children and officials under the ludicrous assertion that they are complicit in some manner of staged hoax. These claims seldom stand up to scrutiny, and they are too often now resulting in the disenfranchised minority lashing out at entirely the wrong people. There is always a need to first examine oneself before externalizing these frustrations, and when the people who propagate these theories examine closely who is really to blame, they might find the answer lies closer to home. Anti-establishment, anti-authority, fear-mongering propaganda is part of the cause, not the solution.

If your guns are ever truly taken away, it won’t be because the government paid off a whole town of crisis actors, or because they want to bring about some fantastical fairy-tale of martial law and totalitarian control, it’ll be because somebody just like you got so angry about the prospect of having their gun removed that they decided to go postal with it instead. And the more you absolve and martyr them, the more tempting it looks to others.

If we allow fabrication and distortion to interrupt the important debate that needs to be had on this topic, then we will never reach a satisfactory outcome one way or the other. There are plenty of conspiracies for such-minded folk to invest their time in without resorting to these distasteful sideshows. I stand with those who bring awareness to this issue, and I stand with those who encourage debate without distortion and dialogue without deception.

HONR Network