A video titled “Sandy Hook Father Owns Congress” has been viewed more than 2 million times since Sunday and has been celebrated by gun rights advocates who have balked at renewed focus on gun control legislation following the December shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 small children dead.
In the video, Newtown, Conn., father Bill Stevens fervently defends his constitutional right to bear arms, condemning the new gun legislation in the U.S. Congress by declaring to Connecticut lawmakers: “I will tell you here today, you will take my ability to protect my Victoria from my cold, dead hands.”
The testimony has been showcased by the conservative media as an example of how, even in the face of tragedy, those directly impacted by the Newtown massacre believe firearms are a tool that can actually increase public safety. Except there’s one problem: Stevens, it turns out, is not a Sandy Hook father.
In fact, as Slate reports, Stevens is a Newtown resident whose daughter attends Reed Intermediate School, located about a mile away from the scene of the mass shooting. During his testimony, Stevens had referred to how his daughter, Victoria, was “in lockdown” during the Sandy Hook shooting and said one of her classmates’ sister was murdered during the rampage, leading media outlets to conclude his own daughter was present during the chaos.
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After being widely cited as a “Sandy Hook father,” Stevens himself emailed the Examiner to clear up the confusion.
“Thank you for the nice article about my testimony in Hartford. Unlike the Liberal media who don't let facts get in the way, I just wanted to let you know that my daughter does not attend Sandy Hook Elementary, but was in 'lock down' nonetheless on December 14, 2012 at Reed Intermediate School (5th & 6th grade) about a mile away with her classmates, one of whom lost his little sister that day,” he wrote.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by ThinkOutsidetheTV, which Slate notes has previously uploaded conspiracy theory videos suggesting the Sandy Hook tragedy was a hoax.