You know that people will blame the gun. They always do.
But the more I read about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the more it occurs to me that this wasn’t a tragedy brought on by a gun, but perhaps a culture. Here are a number of items gleaned by the initial investigation:
- The teacher, Nancy Lanza, whose classroom bore the brunt of the child victims was murdered not at her classroom, but at home.
- After killing his mother, gunman Adam Lanza drove his mother’s car to Sandy Hook Elementary and shot the children in her classroom along with other school personnel before killing himself. (Coward.)
- He was dressed all in black, in what some accounts describe as “fatigues.”
- The guns involved belonged and were legally registered to Nancy Lanza. But what mother is prepared to protect herself from her own son?
- Most interesting: Nancy Lanza and Adam’s father were divorced and he has remarried; more tellingly, the brother who was originally thought to be the gunman because Adam was carrying his identity hadn’t seen Adam “since about 2010.”
I’m not a psychologist by any stretch of the imagination, but this doesn’t sound like the typical nuclear family of “Ozzie and Harriet” days, does it? Something tells me that, in the absence of adult supervision, the young Lanza was probably fascinated by either video games or certain movies, or both.
This also got me to thinking about a pitch for a video game I heard the other day while working in a GameStop. I don’t recall the exact name of the game, but it had a mode where you could play with unlimited ammo and no loss of life – essentially being a killing machine in the form of a video game character. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that’s the game’s most popular feature, by far.
What’s most disgusting about this entire incident was the fact innocent lives were needlessly taken. As the puzzle is being pieced together, it seems to me that Adam Lanza had a long-standing grudge against the family situation he probably blamed for his lot in life. Most 20-year-old youth are spending their mornings either getting ready for college or work, not shooting their mothers and driving to her school to blast away at a kindergarten classroom and various other unfortunate souls. In 99.9% of the most extreme cases, son confronts mom, shoots her, then turns the gun on himself – still a needless tragedy but with just two victims, not 27.
It’s also been interesting to read about the neighborhood Nancy Lanza lived in, where many of her neighbors didn’t know her despite the fact she’d lived there for some time. That in itself is a sad commentary on our times.
You know, it’s funny: we hear about so-called “conflict resolution” classes in schools yet conflicts don’t end with a black eye or bloody lip anymore. Now they end up making national news with several unwitting bystanders being the chance luckless victims of a premeditated act of violence the perpetrator imagines will finally make him known, even in death.
Those who make a lot of money to talk about such things and those who just think they know the answers always seem to say to “hug your child a little tighter tonight.” Sure, that gets us through the next couple days but in a few weeks this story will be a footnote, only to be brought back to life the next time someone who thinks violence is the answer to his problems callously shoots up a mall, or a movie theater, or a restaurant, or a school. We hear about these sorts of events with depressing regularity, so much so that we’re barely surprised or shocked anymore. The Sandy Hook story is only made as poignant as it is because young children are victims.
And just as predictably as night follows day, someone will say it’s the gun’s fault. I disagree, seeing that guns were even more readily available a half-century ago and school shootings were unheard of. Instead, I blame a culture where life is cheapened to the point where young Adam Lanza thought his was worthless enough to forfeit for the cause of revenge, both on the mother he obviously felt was to blame for his issues and on everything she held dear. Sadly, that was the kindergarten class she never made it to this fateful day.
Update: One more thought. While I blame the culture of death in this nation, in the end Adam Lanza was the one who decided to pull the trigger. In the time since I wrote this, reports (and they are just reports which could be wrong) point to the suspicion that Lanza had long-standing mental issues. Still, the impact of what he experienced certainly led to his decisions.