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The tragedy at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, 12/14, struck suddenly, violently, and in disturbing tradition with the mass U.S. shootings over the past four years.
At least for me, praying for the innocent children and staff who were slaughtered isn’t enough.
Justice for these victims and their families requires careful deliberation of the circumstances that surrounded the deceased 20-year old killer Adam Lanza. Did the guns make the man?
~ Apathy knows no mercy
With just a little background research, it seems that Adam’s decision to kill was in part fueled by his mental instability and severed emotional connections with the real world.
Former teachers contend that he had a physical disorder that left him unable to feel pain—both physically and emotionally. One instructor in particular was tasked with monitoring him when using machinery so that he would not hurt himself unknowingly.
Adam’s mother Nancy, in an admission to one of her drinking friends, complained that her youngest son wouldn’t hug her or show any affection at all. She bemoaned the fact that Adam frequently isolated himself for long periods in his room, where he would play violent computer games alone.
The same friend also contends that Nancy complained of her youngest son burning himself on his ankles and arms, as if attempting to feel pain.
~Façade of the antisocial
The well-documented history of Adam’s social awkwardness and withdrawn manner also made neighbors, peers, and relatives envision his personality with mixed reviews: a “geek”, a “goth”, a “bright kid”. Admittedly, his shy manner made his true personality appear transient and indistinguishable to the many people who knew him.
Yet, amidst the opinions of onlookers, the consistent thread of a severed connection to other people, and reality, made Adam frequent instances that his mother and teachers called “psychological withdrawal”—in which he would sever all interactions and cut himself off entirely from his surroundings, as if in a virtual world.
Clearly, the people who knew him in passing didn’t see deep into the disturbing reality of his mind.
~Coiled snake at mother’s feet
The Lanza family moved to Connecticut in 1998, and a decade later Nancy Lanza divorced her husband, amidst rumors that the disturbing antics of their youngest son Adam had put a strain on their marriage.
To complicate matters, Nancy Lanza was also purported to be a “survivalist”, stockpiling food, water, and guns in anticipation of some global economic meltdown. She would bring her young sons down to shooting ranges and teach them the ropes.
Yet the circumstances don’t make the man: who could’ve forseen that after Adam’s brother and relatives didn’t see Adam since 2010, he would return home with mass murder on his mind? The fact that he had access to his mother’s guns, should he steal them, didn’t give him the desire to kill. When he always had access to them, why did he choose this particular time to take them and use them? His decision was coldly calculated and not a spur-of-the-moment burst of insanity—arguably, his only insanity rested in his apathy, but otherwise his true menace rested in his isolated overthinking. For how long did this guy fantasize about bringing a virtual world of computer-game violence into his unfeeling reality?
Deep in her heart, Nancy probably always knew that she was living with a son who never associated any emotional bond with the word “mother”. A week or so before his spree, Nancy went out with one of her friends and spoke, with a haunted expression, about her son Adam “drifting away from her”.
For Nancy, living with Adam must’ve been like being trapped with a coiled snake—reaching out to touch, and watching fearfully as it coldly contemplates a well-timed strike. Despite all of her attempts at survival, Nancy’s one weakness rested within her very own home, from a person to whom she gave birth and raised.
Two days before Sandy Hook, Adam tried to buy a rifle from a sporting goods store in nearby Danbury, CT—but he was blocked by the state’s gun sale waiting period. He couldn’t obtain guns legally, and it was only then that he turned to his mother’s stash. By then it was curtains: he had already contemplated a rifle purchase, suggesting that he had already decided upon mass murder. His inability to wait for a legal gun sale also suggests that he had already decided to commit the act as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Nancy was in his way.
~His selfish kill
On the morning of December 14th, Adam—perhaps for the first time—entered his mother’s bedroom.
He shot her four times in the head.
With Nancy unable to stop him, Adam then stole four of her guns and her car, which he drove to Sandy Hook elementary school. He left a shotgun in the parked car and approached the school with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and two handguns. He had over 100 rounds of ammunition, and multiple high-capacity clips that were each capable of holding 30 bullets.
The chief medical examiner disturbingly stated that these rounds were specifically chosen to tear apart a victim’s body and inflict maximum damage on bone and tissue. He also stated that every victim had been shot multiple times and at close range. In this regard, Adam’s apathy certainly didn’t preclude careful deliberation when it came to how much harm he desired to achieve.
Horribly, the elementary school was locked, well-secured, and fashioned with thick glass windows like a prison. Despite the illustrious precautions, Adam nevertheless managed to enter the helpless school by smashing in a glass window. Once inside, he proceeded to let loose a barrage of popping rounds, moving from room to room with disgustingly focused intent—knowing that the people inside were trapped, clustered together in classrooms, and unarmed. He killed 26 people in total, 20 children all under the age of 10, and 6 adults, some while shielding their students.
Despite Adam’s overwhelming desire to end the lives of others by his hand, he apparently weighed his life much differently. When police began approaching the room where Adam last opened fire, he allegedly heard them and shot himself in the head.
~The bottom line
For what reason would a person unable to feel pain desire a death by his own hand rather than someone else’s? Was this his desired end for a rampage video game sequence brought to life? Was this his chosen penchant for a life he decided to end on his own, while he selfishly took away the lives of others against their will?
Whatever the excuse, his inability to emotionally recognize the value of other people’s lives—and a sick desire even to maximize their pain—did not fall short of his own life.
Despite his mentally warped state, he carefully and deliberately thought about murdering the woman who gave him life, traveled across the state to arm himself and disposed of her when he failed—perhaps even killing her to prevent her intervention in his following spree.
He chose the school perhaps because he attended it as a child, but also because he knew the people inside would be trapped in the building, tightly packed in small classrooms, and unable to defend themselves. He approached them knowing that he could do whatever he wanted until he became the subject of police pursuit, and turned the gun onto himself.
In this instance, the guns did not make the man—they simply made the opportunity he had always been preparing to take, regardless of where and how he procured the means. Adam has always been a person living in a separate world, willing to inflict pain upon others as a relief to his own inability. He has never held any emotional regard for the lives of other living things. Above all, his virtual vision of video-game slaughter overrides any existence he has in this reality, and that includes his judgment.
Whatever politicians may say about the nature of this killer and the method of his killing, it’s misleading to say that the aftermath merits gun control. If just one teacher in that school had a concealed-carry, would any of those innocent people be dead now? Even Adam Lanza, in murdering his mother, seemed to understand that if his mother knew of his intent, and saw him take her car and guns, she would’ve pursued and stopped him—her skilled shooting to his kamikaze.
When will trust be restored in society, so that the good guys can have the upper-hand in self-defense and the bad guys are forced to turn tail? The problem isn’t accessibility to guns—the problem is that criminals will get them any way they can, and law-abiding citizens are sitting ducks in need of individual security at all times.
Let this tragedy be a lesson for the prevention of future slaughters, where a psycho was blatantly given the upper-hand and innocents were abandoned to his pre-calculated endgame.