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Conspiracies suggest mass shootings may be staged

by Katherine Fernandez - Copy Editor
Tue, May 7th 2019 10:00 pm
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED With mass shootings occurring more frequently across the country right wing bloggers and reporters have concocted an outlandish conspiracy theory to discredit activists that campaign for strict gun laws in the wake of such tragedies.
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED With mass shootings occurring more frequently across the country right wing bloggers and reporters have concocted an outlandish conspiracy theory to discredit activists that campaign for strict gun laws in the wake of such tragedies.

School shootings have become more prevalent in the last few decades. In 2018 alone there were 97 reported incidents involving a firearm being discharged on school grounds. As heartbreaking as the reality is, many people have tried to capitalize on the tragedies by publicly insisting that they were all staged as a part of a left-wing political agenda. 

These conspiracy theorists, who refer to themselves as False Flag Hoaxers, believe that the government is orchestrating fake mass shootings and hiring “crisis actors” to recount a false narrative in order to instigate change in gun legislation. 

From forums on Reddit and 4chan to more well known outlets like infamous radio host Rush Limbaugh, this theory has begun to spread like wildfire and many believe that every single incident that makes front page news nationally is a little more than just anti-Trump propaganda. 

One of the most outspoken members of this fringe community is Alex Jones, a radio host and creator of InfoWars, an alt-right conspiracy news website. Jones has made allegations of having proof the devastation that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and most recently the Christchurch mosque in New Zealand were all falsified. 

Jones and the other leaders of the Truthers movement catapulted themselves into the forefront of mainstream media almost immediately after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, launching their own investigation into the events that transpired on February 14, 2018. According to theories posted on InfoWars and GateWay Pundit, the survivors of the massacre were coached by the FBI before being allowed to give interviews to news crews that had arrived on the scene. 

One student in particular has been the main target of these wild accusations due to their unexpected tie to the U.S. government. David Hogg, the student news director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, coincidentally happens to be the son of a retired FBI agent, a tidbit of information that the alt-right used as the foundation for their paranoid ramblings. 

“That’s called a sound bite and I was saying my sound bites to sound as eloquent as possible,” Hogg said in response to a snippet of video in which conspiracy theorists claim to have caught him messing up the lines that the government scripted for him. “I wasn’t reciting my lines, I was reciting my heart.”

Being a student journalist turned gun control activist, Hogg was even more fitting for their agenda, seeing as how Trump already had a longstanding feud with any media outlets that were not tilted in his favor. Trump himself posted a tweet four days after the shooting to dole out blame to the FBI for not preventing it. Instead choosing to focus on its investigation into his possible collusion with Russia. 

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” Trump wrote. “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!” 

There are numerous holes in this loose tie with the FBI. For one thing, Hogg is only one of the many students who have been outspoken in their campaign against gun violence. In fact, the general public is more familiar with Emma Gonzalez as the face of the March For Our Lives movement. Furthermore, it has been proven time and time again that Trump often presents “alternative facts” to discredit others when he is faced with opposition. 

This is such a common occurrence that news outlets like CNN often publish articles with the sole purpose of fact checking him after his public appearances. His radical political followers blindly believe every outlandish thing he has ever said so it is not surprising that they would create a situation where the FBI has a personal vendetta against him rather than admit that the bureau is rightfully investigating him.

These acts of domestic terrorism leave their mark on not only the survivors of the crime but the entire world. Mass shootings often happen in places where we seek solace and are meant to feel safe. If people allow hate groups to spew their political rhetoric and feed into their delusions, we are allowing them to take away from the work that survivors are doing to take a stand and prevent more tragedy.

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