Mark Barden lost his beautiful boy, Daniel, in the Sandy Hook massacre. He opens up about the doc Newtown, gun control, and Trumps alliance with Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones.”>
Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.
Donald Trump, the former reality-show host turned Republican presidential nominee, uttered those very words to Alex Jones during an appearance on the round Texans Infowars program in December. Jonesfor the blissfully uninitiatedis an alt-right conspiracy theorist who believes the United States government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, and is poisoning our drinking water in order to turn American citizens gay.
He is also, by his own admission, a close adviser to candidate Trump.
Joness most despicable theory is his belief that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged. On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 young children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured, said Jones on the Jan. 13, 2015, edition of his radio show. I couldnt believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors. (There is absolutely no evidence to support this odious claim.)
Trumps Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, condemned his disturbing alliance with Jones in an Aug. 25 speech targeting the alt-right, along with an anti-Trump ad released by the Clinton campaign on Oct. 16.
Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting, is also appalled by the cozy relationship between Trump and Jones.
The Republican presidential nominee of the United States is being advised by a delusional sociopath. It speaks for itself, Barden tells me. What else can you say about that? Its disgusting.
The occasion for our chat is Newtown, Kim A. Snyders heartrending documentaryone of the very best of the year, in factthat follows the parents, first responders, and school staff as they deal with the aftermath of that horrific day at Sandy Hook Elementary. Snyders film delicately articulates the concentric circles of impact, as we witness the tragedys toll on this once-idyllic, tight-knit community. Most of the films screen time is devoted to Barden, a loving, sympathetic father and husband by day and a musician by night. Daniel was the youngest of three children he had with his wife, Jackie, and the loss still haunts him.
This is almost four years now, so for everyone else its kind of ancient history. But our particular journey through this has not been one of creeping in and out of consciousness, says Barden. Every second of the day I am forced to consider the fact that my sweet little Daniel is gone and hes gone forever, and hes gone because someone shot him to death. Those are the recurring themes that I live with every waking and sleeping moment. Its unrelenting.
The couple used to go for long walks around the neighborhood, counting their blessings that they were able to live in such a picturesque place filled with the friendliest of people. In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, its been the experience of my wife and me that this community has wrapped itself around us with love and support in a way that I didnt even know was possible, he says.
Newtowns opening chapters are devoted to testimonials from grieving parents who lost their children in the tragedy, and the effect is devastating. At around 9 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, Lanza, a deeply troubled young man with Aspergers syndrome, shot his mother, Nancy, in the head. He proceeded to take her car and, armed with two semiautomatic pistols, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a Bushmaster XM-15 E2S semiautomatic rifle, drive five miles to Sandy Hook Elementary School. There, he targeted two of the schools first-grade classrooms, killing 14 children in one and six in the other, along with six adults. After firing 154 rounds, Lanza turned the gun on himself.
Many of the parents interviewed in Snyders film lay part of the blame on Lanzas parentsin particular his mother, whod not only neglected to seek the proper treatment for her disturbed son, but also encouraged the 20-year-olds gun fetish. Their home was a veritable armory, filled with multiple weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Police even discovered a gun safe in Lanzas bedroom.
I definitely hold both parents responsible. They absolutely were partially negligent, says Barden. I think they made some really bad choices and lacked a fundamental understanding of what their child was dealing with, and how to manage that. I think it should be a wake-up call for parents across America to be intimately in touch with their children and more proactive with how they are living their lives.
In the wake of the shooting, the Sandy Hook families filed a lawsuit against Remington, the gun manufacturer responsible for the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, alleging negligent entrustmentor that the gun maker knew of the risks posed by the deadly semiautomatic weapon yet sold them to the private citizens anyway. Just last week, a Connecticut judge dismissed the suit citing the PLCAA, or Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (the families plan to appeal).
Theyve also gone toe-to-toe with the National Rifle Association, fighting for common-sense gun-law reformsincluding closing the gun-show loophole and calling for more extensive background checks.
The thing to know about the NRA is that the majority of the membership does not agree with what the leadership is doing, or the way theyre doing it, says Barden. Most of the membership of that organization would agree that we can do a better job of modest reforms around firearm ownership. The NRA is not the organization it once was. The organization used to be an honorable hunter-sportsman group that promoted firearm safety, and theyve subsequently morphed into nothing more than a lobby for the gun manufacturing industry with the sole intent of selling more units for the almighty dollar. Its unfortunate that they use fear to increase their profit marginno matter what the cost.