By now, many of us have seen the footage being passed around by the gun lobby, of Bill Stevens, a man they call the father of a Sandy Hook child, testifying before Congress. It has been posted on right-wing news sources across the internet, typically titled “Sandy Hook Father Owns Congress.” Of course, the problem is, he’s not the father of a Sandy Hook student. As he states in the video, his daughter goes to another school, Reed Intermediate School, as you can clearly hear for yourself here:
The claims of Mr. Stevens, that the Constitution gives him the unfettered right to own a weapon which can slaughter people in a school, seem to reflect a belief that gun rights trump the right to life or liberty. When combined with his belief that the legislature has no authority, nor obligation for legislation, it tells us that this is not a concerned parent, but instead as a misinformed tool of the gun manufacturers lobby. He does not own, nor school, anyone in Congress, and instead looks to be a misled man who can only recite right-wing talking points fed to him.
How he brags that he will murder someone he judges to be a security threat, and the laughter he got from the room, was particularly troubling. That he calls guns “security” is also disturbing, as the fact is a gun in the home is more likely to kill its owner than an intruder. For him to want that, at his daughters school, means he wishes to increase the likelihood of her dying by a firearm.
In all this, he does not cover a single topic at hand, does he own a weapon which is being discussed or not? Contrary to popular claims by the NRA, the weapons being discussed are not sold in high volumes and are less than 1% of the market. However, due to its image as a status symbol, these cheap to manufacture plastic weapons are sold at an incredibly high markup, giving the gun manufacturers a huge profit margin.
The gun manufacturing lobby knows that they don’t have a leg to stand on, so their paid media spokespeople are trotted out to make claim after disproven claim. Mr. Stevens testimony, hyped up by the gun manufacturing lobby, is part of this same old, tired argument. You will even see people claim that there is no such thing as an assault weapon.
The term Assault Weapon was first coined in 1943 Germany, when the government put out a contract to develop a “weapon able to storm/assault the enemy, combining the fire capabilities of a submachine gun with the rifle.” The resulting weapon, the Sturmgewehr 44, its name literally means “Assault Rifle.” There have been models of assault weapons over the years in rifle, pistol and shogun form, ever since. Military versions fire in full-auto, but demilitarized versions in the US, due to the National Firearms Act of 1934, have had the automatic fire mode disabled. And contrary to popular belief, the proposed Assault Weapons Ban would not forbid the ownership of all assault weapons, but only certain forms which are easier to commit crime with.
The fact is, you cannot defend your home with a military style assault weapon. But that the gun manufacturing lobby is reaching, to trot Mr. Stevens with his case which fails civics and going so far as to claim that he is the father of a student at Sandy Hook Elementary, tells you that they are running scared.
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.