The video, titled “SANDY HOOK FATHER OWNS CONGRESS,” has been viewed more than 2.4 million times since it was published to YouTube on Sunday. In it, Bill Stevens offers a fervid defense of gun rights, citing his constitutional right to bear arms and telling Connecticut lawmakers: “I will tell you here today, you will take my ability to protect my Victoria from my cold, dead hands.”
As impassioned as his Charlton Heston-quoting testimony was, what’s so noteworthy about his speech—and likely the reason he’s become something of a hero to Second Amendment supporters this week—is the fact that he is, in the words of a whole host of conservative media, a “Sandy Hook father.” On Sunday, roughly a week after Stevens spoke at the hearing and the same day the clip in question was posted, the Examiner reported matter-of-factly that Stevens’ daughter, Victoria, “attended Sandy Hook Elementary school, scene of the mass shooting in December.” The following day, Brietbart.com stated plainly that she had “survived the crime at Sandy Hook.” On Tuesday, the Daily Caller did the same, explaining that she had “survived the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.” We heard a similar story from Townhall.com, as well as from a spate of other conservative sites.
The problem, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, is that Stevens is not actually the father of a Sandy Hook student. Victoria is a fifth-grader at Reed Intermediate School, located about a mile or so from the elementary school that was the scene of the tragic mass shooting. In fairness to Stevens, the misinformation was not his doing. While his original remarks were a little ambigious—he said that his daughter “was in lockdown” during the shooting and that “her classmate’s little sister was murdered in Sandy Hook that day”—he’s already gone out of his way to correct the error, emailing the Examiner to set the story straight:
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