A Conversation with Lenny Pozner and Veronique Pozner Regarding SHES Tragedy

A Conversation with Lenny Pozner and Veronique Pozner Regarding SHES Tragedy


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VERONIQUE POZNER: “It was a nightmare, déjà vu scenario that it just, you know, brought everything back in a wave”.



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Published 01 July 2016
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A Conversation with Lenny Pozner and Veronique Pozner Regarding SHES Tragedy
VERONIQUE POZNER: “It was a nightmare, déjà vu scenario that it just, you know, brought everything back in a wave”.
LISA MILLAR: She lost her six year old son.
ERIC MILGRAM: “And they knew something bad had happened. They heard the screaming... the shooting”.
LISA MILLAR: His daughter survived hiding in a primary school bathroom.
ERIC MILGRAM: “Can you imagine though what that does to a six or seven year old when they see something like that?”
LISA MILLAR: Now the court case that could force change.
VERONIQUE POZNER: “You can’t put a product such as that out in the general public and expect not to have accountability”.
LISA MILLAR: Tonight, we go back to the families whose lives changed forever on the day twenty tiny children and six teachers went to school and never came home.
“So have you given up hope that the gun laws will change in this country?”
VERONIQUE POZNER: “No, I have not given up hope. I think we’re better than this”.
LISA MILLAR: And their fight to shut down the dangerous conspiracy theories.
CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: “Busted! 100% proof that Sandy Hook was a hoax”.
LISA MILLAR: “What are they saying about your family and about Noah?”
LENNY POZNER: “He is an actor and he’s, he never really died and that we are all actors”.
ERIC MILGRAM: “They’re going to threaten you, they’re going to tell you that you’re part of a conspiracy, you’re going to be victimised all over again”.
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN #1: “We have lost, hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence”.
LISA MILLAR: Will America finally listen.
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN #2: “You can help us win this battle America. Call your representative up. Call these Republicans up on the phone and tell them we want to vote!”
[TITLES]: Honouring Noah – Reporter: Lisa Millar
Sandy Hook, USA
VERONIQUE POZNER: “His life energy, his appetite for life, he was a bon vivant. You know he really enjoyed food and companionship and he was very engaged in life. I think he.... he had a lot to teach everyone about being connected”.
LISA MILLAR: [February, 2013] “It’s a big deal for a mother to speak out like this and yet you are finding the strength to do that. What are you hoping to achieve?”
VERONIQUE POZNER: “I think I’d like other mothers to hear me, to hear or grasp even a bit of the magnitude of the loss. I’m speaking on behalf of my son so that he’s not forgotten”.
LISA MILLAR: In December of 2012, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in the prosperous north east of the United States became a place of terror. With the doors to the school locked and students safely in their classrooms, shots rang out.
POLICE RADIO: “Sandy Hook School. Caller’s indicating she thinks there’s someone shooting in the building”.
LISA MILLAR: In a matter of minutes, twenty children, including Veronique Pozner’s six year old son Noah were slain – along with six of the teachers who tried to protect them.
CHILD: “We heard guns and we also heard screaming and crying”.
LISA MILLAR: In the days and weeks after the slaughter at the primary school, few of the parents wanted to talk publicly, but we found Veronique Pozner, mother of five, determined that her son would not become just another statistic.
VERONIQUE POZNER: “It’s really heart wrenching to see your child’s name on a headstone. I mean… and its heart wrenching in any case, but it was just so sudden and a scenario I never entertained in my wildest nightmares”.
LISA MILLAR: Veronique sent her children to Sandy Hook school on that Friday, big sister Sophia and six year old twins, Arielle and Noah. Noah’s little body was riddled with eleven bullets from Adam Lanza’s gun. Veronique, a nurse forced herself to identify his remains.
VERONIQUE POZNER: “I felt I owed it to him. I mean I was his mother in life and I’m his mother.... after, you know, no matter what”.
LISA MILLAR: More than three years later, she woke to news of yet another horrific mass killing using a semi-automatic weapon originally designed for the battlefield - fifty people dead at a nightclub in Orlando Florida, including the gunman.
“In almost thirty years in journalism the Sandy Hook massacre was one of the hardest stories I’ve had to cover. I remember a colleague at the time commenting, how do you write an obituary for a five year old? And then how do you write nineteen more? I’ve thought a lot about that line and about the families, especially Veronique Pozner, who I met in the weeks after the attack, her son was one of the victims, Noah his name was. Three and a half years later, I’m on my way to her place and I want to see how she’s going”.
[Greeting Veronique at front door]I find Veronique now living in a city a long way from Sandy Hook. She and her family moved after Noah was killed. It was too painful to stay.
“Is there a part of you though that felt torn about leaving the place where Noah last was?”
VERONIQUE POZNER: “Yes. I felt guilty about that. I definitely did, but it didn’t take me too long to realise that, you know, for me to feel close to him and to think about him and his laugh and the things he would say, I don’t find that at the cemetery. All I find there is loss and bottomless grief really, quite frankly, it’s very, very harrowing for me to go. So knowing that, that guilt has really gone away because I feel close to him when I think about him, when I remember him, when I look at his pictures, when I… you know laugh about something he said with the girls. I still haven’t been able to watch films of him though, but I do look at his pictures all the time”.
VERONICA POZNER: “We’re sending you these balloons and hope they reach you, all the way in heaven”.
LISA MILLAR: “What was your first reaction when you heard the news from Orlando?”
VERONICA POZNER: “It was just… first reaction was just a wave of nausea, pretty much um... just that feeling of here we go again ‘cause we’re asleep at the wheel and we’re about to crash again because I knew before any confirmation was made that he had to have used a high powered rifle to get the amount of casualties they were starting to talk about. It was a nightmare, déjà vu scenario that it just… you know, brought everything back in a wave and my heart just went out to all those young people that lost their lives and their families and just knowing they’re just beginning that journey”.
SIG SAUER COMMERCIAL: “Shooter make ready. The Sig MCX is here and it’s unlike anything you’ve seen or heard”.
LISA MILLAR: This is the assault rifle used to kill in Orlando. Developed for America’s Special Forces, it can fire 45 rounds in a minute.
SIG SAUER COMMERCIAL: “The Sig MCX eclipses everything that’s come before it. It’s the start of a new era”. TEXT: Sig Sauer, when it counts. www.sigevolution.com
LISA MILLAR: A semi-automatic gun similar to this has been the weapon of choice in America’s recent massacres – the San Bernardino slayings last September, the attack in a Colorado movie theatre in 2012 and at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
When I first met Veronique just weeks after Sandy Hook she was calling for a ban.
VERONIQUE POZNER: “They are weapons of mass carnage that are designed for the battle field. It just… it just has no place in society as I see it. I think they should be made illegal and I think there should be a compulsory buy-back program of these weapons”.
LISA MILLAR: “Similar to what we saw in Australia?”
LISA MILLAR: “Are you shocked that Sandy Hook and the death of Noah and the other children wasn’t enough to change things?”
VERONIQUE POZNER: “I thought the fact that twenty small children as well as six educators being decimated in a very short amount of time would be such a wake-up call for the nation.
It shocks me. It shocks me that... you know, we seem to be on one hand concerned about this massive loss of life that occurs during mass shootings or the statistics that are coming out of our American cities, but by the same token, there’s a kind of complacency and I think part of it is just the powerful lobby of the NRA and the gun manufacturers and the immunity that they enjoy and …” [shrugs shoulders].
LISA MILLAR: “And they’ve still got the power? I mean we talked about it when we met in 2013”.
VERONIQUE POZNER: “Yes and I think they’ve… the ice that they’re standing on is becoming thinner and thinner every time one of these events happens. It becomes more and
more difficult for them to rationally justify why we can’t have reasonable gun control measures in this country”.
LISA MILLAR: The National Rifle Association or NRA is perhaps the most powerful and controversial lobbying group in America.
PROTESTOR: “NRA stops killing our children. It’s the NRA and the assault weapons that are killing our children”.
WAYNE LA PIERRE: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.
LISA MILLAR: Wayne La Pierre who’s been running the NRA for twenty years and earns a million dollars a year because he’s so successful”.
PROTESTOR: “Shame on the NRA! Ban assault weapons now! “
LISA MILLAR: At the first Senate committee hearings on gun control after Sandy Hook, La Pierre went on the offensive.
WAYNE LA PIERRE: “Law abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that governments should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families”.
LISA MILLAR: La Pierre said no to proposed bans on semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazine clips and no to more background checks for gun buyers.
NRA COMMERCIAL: “I’m a mum and just like millions of other women, that’s why I own guns”.
LISA MILLAR: Successive efforts to change gun laws are constantly blocked in Congress.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: [June 2, 2016] “There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country”.
LISA MILLAR: Only months away from finishing his presidency, Barak Obama calls it his biggest frustration – just two weeks before Orlando – he was pleading for change.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I just came from a meeting today in the situation room in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, US citizens and we’re allowed to put them on the “no fly” list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun”.
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN: “We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence”.
LISA MILLAR: Ten days after the Orlando murders, in an action reminiscent of civil rights protests in the 1960s, Democrats launched a 25 hour sit in on the floor of Congress. They wanted a vote on legislation that would stop people on a terrorist watch list from buying guns.
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN #1: “We’re calling on the leadership of the House to bring common sense gun control legislation to the House floor. Give us a vote! Let us vote! We came here to do our job! We came here to work!”
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN #2: “Rise up Democrats. Rise up Americans. This cannot stand. We will occupy this floor. We will no longer be denied a right to vote”.
DEMOCRAT POLITICIAN #3: “You can help us win this battle America. Call your representative up. Call these Republicans up on the phone and tell them we want to vote. America you can win this battle tonight for us”.
LISA MILLAR: After the official cameras were switched off, they ignored a ban on mobile phones, instead using them to live stream their protest to social media.
NRA ADVERTISEMENT: “To the ayatollahs of Iran and every terrorist you enable, listen up. You might have met our fresh faced flower child president and his weak kneed Ivy League friends”.
LISA MILLAR: The NRA opposes the “no fly no buy” proposal, calling it an infringement of civil liberties because many innocent people could be on the watch list and prevented from owning a gun.
NRA ADVERTISEMENT: “I’m the National Rifle Association of America and I’m freedom’s safest place”.
NRA GUN ADISEMENT: “Let me say something to every political hack pretending you know an AR15 from a double barrel shotgun in the wake of the Orlando terror attack. Stop talking”.
LISA MILLAR: With substantial financial backing from America’s arms makers, the NRA spends more than $200 million a year promoting and defending gun ownership.
NRA GUN ADVERTISEMENT: “I was a seal for 12 years. Now I train average, every day Americans to protect themselves and their families. The only way for us to stay free, was by having whatever guns the bad guys have. This firearm gives average people the advantage they so desperately need and deserve, to protect their life, liberty and happiness”.
LISA MILLAR: The NRA has support in the dark corners of the internet too. Incredibly since Noah died, the Pozners and relatives of other Sandy Hook victims have been fending off so-called “Gun Truthers” – on line trolls and conspiracy theorists who claim Sandy Hook never happened or were part of a plot to take away guns.
[VO video website]:Now here is the phoney, fictional computer generated photoshop boy -the bogey man, Adam Lanza.
LENNY POZNER: [looking at computer] “…these links here are of youtube videos that have been taken down.”
LISA MILLAR: “Right OK - so they’ve been taken down?”
LENNY POZNER: “They’re gone.”
LISA MILLER: Noah’s dad, Lenny, has dedicated himself to outing them on his own website and having the fake sites removed.
“You didn’t want us to show your face, can you explain why?”
LENNY POZNER: “Because of the... all of the threats against me, all of the hate, all of the death threats. There’s an active FBI investigation and its part of my... concern, part of staying vigilant”.
LISA MILLAR: “What are they saying about your family and about Noah?”
LENNY POZNER: “Well there are many conspiracies, many theories, and many things that are being said but... one of which is that he is an actor and he never really died and that we are all actors. It’s just another anomaly in the land of conspiracy theorists. When things don’t add up for them, they don’t need to connect”.
[Looking at images on computer] “Three years ago, every single photo was of this type. You wouldn’t see anything real of Noah”.
LISA MILLAR: “Then your hard work is paying off”.
LENNY POZNER: “Oh absolutely, oh absolutely, definitely”.
LISA MILLAR: But they aren’t all faceless on the fringes of the internet.
NEWS BULLETIN: “A senior professor strikes a nerve here and across the country over his claim that the Newtown massacre was a hoax”.
LISA MILLAR: James Tracy, a communications professor at a Florida University, writes that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was an elaborate hoax designed to pass gun control laws. He even sentLenny Poznera letter requesting evidence his dead son was real.
TV INTERVIEWER: “There’s a lot of emotion involved in something like this, is there anything that you want to say to that person at home that’s going to throw their shoe at the TV and say this guy is a total nut?”
PROFESSOR TRACY: “Well I I think that we need to, as a society, look at things more carefully. Perhaps we, as a society, have been conditioned to be duped”.
LISA MILLAR: Tracy was sacked earlier this year.
LENNY POZNER: “I think that was a very strong success. I think it’s a very powerful statement to make that that sort of behaviour, that sort of activity is not, is not acceptable. A lot of people that are conspiracy theorists and on line throw around this freedom of speech concept but that’s, that’s not how it’s defined. That’s not what it means. It’s not… it’s not a protection from abusing people”.
LISA MILLAR: “I’m just sort of a bit in awe of you that you are able to just take this on as a, almost as a duty, as something that you have to do because when I look up those sites and read what’s written, I would just feel absolutely gutted. I mean I don’t know how you manage not to just feel such a heavy, heavy sadness about it”.
LENNY POZNER: “I do and I can’t really explain why I’ve chosen that path but it really is not something that I stop and think about, it really is the only choice for me to make. Someone is treating the memory of my son that way and I have to absolutely defend the memory of my son. I have no choice. And conspiracy theories erase history, they erase our