A state lawmaker from Butler County found himself the object of criticism once again Wednesday, after his social media postings on last week’s school shooting in Florida appeared to reference a conspiracy theory about the students agitating for gun control.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe on Wednesday said expecting lawmakers to listen to students about gun control shows the hypocrisy of Democrats.
In a Facebook post Metcalfe, R-12th, said he was listening to news of individuals from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida being bussed to the state capitol to advocate for gun control. He wrote that in hearing of the demonstration, he was struck by “the hypocrisy of the left.”
“This morning I was working out and listening to the news about ‘students’ being bused in to the Florida Capitol,” he wrote. “They expect lawmakers to listen to the policy advice of 18 year old and younger ‘students’ who are advocating for gun control, but they do not believe 18 year olds who are old enough to serve on the battlefields of Afghanistan are old enough to purchase a rifle.”
Though there were comments supportive of Metcalfe’s statement, many called into question his use of quotation marks around the word “students.”
In the wake of the Florida shooting, in which 17 people were killed, some have accused those representing themselves as students at the school of being paid “crisis actors.”
According to snopes.com, which investigates and attempts to prove or disprove Internet statements, the conspiracy theory gained traction after Marjory Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg told a CNN reporter that his father is a retired FBI agent. Hogg has advocated for more strict gun regulations in the wake of the attack.
A conservative website, Gateway Pundit, called Hogg’s motives into question and accused him of “not remembering his lines” during his interview. Other sites went on to question whether Hogg was really a student at the school, claiming he had graduated from a California high school in 2015.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas quickly chimed in to debunk the claims, offering proof that Hogg is their classmate.
However, some conservatives doubled down on their belief in the claims, including an aide for Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Republican, who told a media outlet he believed students speaking out for gun control were actors who travel to various locations when incidents happen. That aide was later fired for the comment.
Messages left with Metcalfe’s office seeking clarification on his Facebook post were not returned Wednesday.