Final report on Sandy Hook shooting released
November 26, 2013 12:58 AM   Subscribe

 
The Dance Dance Revolution bit really caught me, if only because I know that game solely from its Black Rock City adaptation, Dance Dance Immolation (you play from within a flame retardant suit, if you lose there are two flamethrowers on either side to see you out)

Lanza's love of "Dance Dance Revolution":

The shooter liked to play a game called “Dance Dance Revolution” (DDR), which is a music video game in which the player stands on a platform, watches a video screen and moves his feet as directed by the video. A home version of this was seen and photographed in the shooter’s home. Several videos of him playing DDR were found on digital media taken from the home.
The GPS found in the home and reportedly belonging to the shooter indicated that he regularly went to the area of a theater that had a commercial version of the DDR game in the lobby. In 2011 and up until a month before December 14, 2012, the shooter went to the theater and played the game. He went most every Friday through Sunday and played the game for four to ten hours.
An acquaintance of the shooter from 2011 to June 2012 said that the shooter and the acquaintance played DDR quite a bit. They would play the game and occasionally see a movie. They did not play first person shooter games at the theater. The shooter had stamina for DDR and never appeared winded unless really exhausted.

posted by mannequito at 1:29 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will never feel closure. I feel nothing but fury when I think about Lanza and what he did to my town. Irrationally, I feel like he escaped punishment and got exactly what he wanted. I'm furious at the idiots who wants to use the anniversary to celebrate their right to shake their guns at us. I'm furious that we lack the political courage and intelligence in the US to have a rational conversation about preventing future tragedies.

Mostly I'm furious at myself for getting so disgusted with my second amendment obsessed friends that I can't even talk with them about this anymore. You can't change minds if you're to angry to even have a conversation. I find myself picturing the classrooms whenever they go of about how the only way to prevent more massacres is more guns. I've got to let go of some of this anger but I don't even know where to start.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:00 AM on November 26, 2013 [71 favorites]


Adam Lanza's "significant" mental heath issues

All of the firearms were legally purchased by the shooter’s mother.

So when are we going to get a report on Nancy Lanza's "significant mental health issues"? Because -- and I'm sorry if this offends anyone -- I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.
posted by ladybird at 2:15 AM on November 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

I'm guessing a bottomless well of denial that her son's central set of problems was that he was suffering from OCD and sensory processing disorders and Aspergers and not the huge, horrendous, unspeakable mental illness that was going to make him kill a bunch of kids and their teachers.

Probably the notion that he was out with a friend playing Dance Dance Revolution brought her a little solace - 'he can't be that bad off, despite all of these signs. He's out playing Dance Dance Revolution with a friend.'
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:29 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and he wouldn't let her in his bedroom, so she probably didn't know about the Columbine obsession or selfies of suicidal poses, which would probably have wiped out the bit of silly fun in Dance Dance Revolution.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:34 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

To placate him. She didn't have the parental capacity to deal with his tantrums, so the easiest thing is to buy him what he wants.

Someone very close to me is a single mum, with a very difficult violently tempered teen son, and she has always dealt with him by refusing to see reality and has done what's immediately easiest. Get him what he wants when he wants it.
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 2:53 AM on November 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


And on his computer (many of which the investigators concede may* have no relevance to the case):

- Web page design folders
- Comedy videos
- Music
- Images of hamsters
- Images of Lego creations



* "may"?
posted by panaceanot at 3:14 AM on November 26, 2013


And on his computer (many of which the investigators concede may have no relevance to the case): Bookmarks pertaining to firearms, military, politics, mass murder, video games, music, books, Army Ranger, computers and programs, ammunition, candy, economic books

Was a time not too long ago when "economic books" would have been at the top of that list. Politics seems no longer to be the motivation to violence amongst young, impressionable youth as it once was.
posted by three blind mice at 3:31 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't read this without feeling anything but rage that we haven't passed gun control. I mean, the kid had mental health issues, the mom was in denial, oh, what do we do. Gun control, Jesus wept.
posted by angrycat at 3:34 AM on November 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


I expected that - that this would change nothing. What leaves me in total disbelief is that the NRA set would make this into some kind of rallying point for their cause. Think about it for a minute, it's almost unbelievable.
posted by thelonius at 3:41 AM on November 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

Because mental illness is in and of itself not a predictor for violence. Statistically, her son was more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator. It seems Lanza largely kept private the evidence that he had a concrete and violent obsession with school shootings. I think it's easy to look back and say, accurately, "Well clearly that kid was an enormous danger to others" but I've not read any evidence that she had any way of knowing her son wasn't just seriously struggling but was an actual threat.

All of that said, I think it was absurd Nancy Lanza had an arsenal in her house full stop. But I come down on the side that the US needs real gun control, not just gun control aimed at specific groups of people.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:16 AM on November 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


We all read and discussed the report at my office yesterday, and my contribution was:
Basically, every sentence directly referencing Adam Lanza in that report can be followed with a sarcastic 'so you can see why you'd want to give him guns.'
This isn't really a story about legislative gun control, just because we're so far away from a place where an affluent suburban woman with a clean record like Nancy Lanza would be prevented from buying significant firepower.

This is a story about selfish enabling. Adam Lanza was clearly of diminished mental capacity, pathologically lacking empathy or really any ability to look past himself. His mother, realizing this but opting to arm him in some perverse attempt to mollify and connect with him, is vile.

All I can think of when I read this story is the Golem of Prague.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:23 AM on November 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


because we're so far away from a place where an affluent suburban woman with a clean record like Nancy Lanza would be prevented from buying significant firepower.



.

for something. I don't know what.
posted by lalochezia at 4:39 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


So when are we going to get a report on Nancy Lanza's "significant mental health issues"? Because -- and I'm sorry if this offends anyone -- I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

Is it possible to file a wrongful death claim against Nancy Lanza's estate? She bought all the weapons and either gave them to Adam or retained ownership and kept them in a place where he had easy access to them. It seems she should have some liability, and if there's no chance of gun control coming from the legislature, it would be nice to establish a precedent where gun owners are at civilly responsible for crimes committed with their weapons.

Or has the gun lobby already shut down this avenue?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:06 AM on November 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is it possible to file a wrongful death claim against Nancy Lanza's estate?

Assuming the money from her estate went to her surviving son, I don't know. I honestly don't blame the son (Ryan?) for what his brother did or what his mother enabled his brother to do. Not that he should make money off the deaths of 26 innocent people, but I don't know what suing him would do.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:22 AM on November 26, 2013


To placate him. She didn't have the parental capacity to deal with his tantrums, so the easiest thing is to buy him what he wants.

And it's for this reason that I support wide-ranging gun control because I'm convinced that most people aren't responsible enough to own fire-arms. As a society we can't be trusted to not drink-and-drive, own lawn darts, not gorge ourselves with food that we know is killing us yet nearly anyone can go out and amass an arsenal of weapons that can be used to kill other human beings. It boggles the mind.
posted by photoslob at 5:35 AM on November 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


The only thing in this very slim report that stood out to me as possibly suggesting motive was the presence of material on pedophiles' rights. Was Adam Lanza a non-practicing pedophile lashing out at the objects of his desire?
posted by Scram at 5:36 AM on November 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

She lives in a culture with a sick and childish attitude towards guns where a pro-murder organization is not only considered acceptable but respected by politicians and deciding policy.
posted by Artw at 5:40 AM on November 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Ongoing daily gun violence, tragic gun accidents, and periodic mass shootings are the price we pay for a liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment and strong gun rights. I don't see any way around it.

BTW, as of this second, at least 10,972 people have been killed by guns since Adam Lanza walked into his mother's bedroom on the morning of December 14, 2012 according to Slate. That's almost four times as many as were killed in the WTC and Pentagon attacks on 9-11.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:42 AM on November 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


Do we even bother talking about the shooting of the week anymore unless it's a "big" one?
posted by Artw at 5:44 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


... because we're so far away from a place where an affluent suburban woman with a clean record like Nancy Lanza would be prevented from buying significant firepower.

Buying is the right focus. It's a massive industry to wind back to a boutique market.

Obama would have more chance disarming Syria and Iran, than Newtown, Connecticut. Think about that.
posted by de at 5:46 AM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


To placate him. She didn't have the parental capacity to deal with his tantrums, so the easiest thing is to buy him what he wants.

The experience of your friend aside, this pronouncement relative to Nancy Lanza is based on... what?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:54 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the report:

Efforts were made within the limits of privacy laws to gather information on medical consultations and/or treatments the shooter was involved with over the course of his years in Newtown. In doing so, investigators found no evidence to suggest the shooter had taken any medication that would affect his behavior or by any means to explain his actions on December 14, 2012. ... The shooter refused to take suggested medication ....

These excerpts seem to be studiedly ambigous about whether he actually did take medication, and whether that medication could have had side-effects that led to the disaster.
posted by TristanPK at 5:56 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, it's got so that I can't even tolerate Second Amendment discussions in the classroom. If a student narcs on me it might cause problems, but if I hear one more word about the Second Amendment from anybody I'm going to start telling them they, as individuals, are responsible for X # of murdered people and then somebody will punch me in the face.

I was angry during Reagan/Bush I, horrified during Bush II, but I swear to God, nothing makes me just dislike American society as does the country's attitude towards guns. I've never felt so hopeless about a political issue. I mean, if you can't get anywhere with a massacre of kindergarten students, what is it going to take? A nuke going off in a major city and martial law? What?
posted by angrycat at 6:04 AM on November 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


tl;dr Adam Lanza was likely a Columbine copycat.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:06 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the section of the Final Report section headed "Shooter - Autopsy Information": "No drugs were found in the shooter’s system." I assume that in this report that drugs would include OTC and prescribed medication, not just illicit street drugs.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:07 AM on November 26, 2013


Solution: urge the creators of DDR to drop the word "Revolution" and just call it "Dance, Dance"; that should stop school shootings.
posted by Renoroc at 6:09 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is this really the full or "final" report? An AP story on Sunday mentioned this release actually withholds lots of evidence:

Withholding of full Newtown report fuels secrecy criticism; some evidence to be shared Monday

HARTFORD, Conn. — A prosecutor is planning to release a report Monday on the investigation into the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the public will have to wait longer for the state police's full accounting of the crime. The decision to continue withholding the bulk of the evidence is stirring new criticism of the secrecy that has surrounded the probe since a gunman killed 20 children and six educators inside the school on Dec. 14.

...the lead investigator, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, has gone to court to fight the release of 911 tapes, consulted privately with victims' families on what might be included in the report and resisted calls from Connecticut's governor to divulge more information sooner...

Dan Klau, a Hartford attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, said the decision to release a summary report before the full evidence file is a reversal of standard practice and one of the most unusual elements of an investigation marked by secrecy.

"What I found troubling about the approach of the state's attorney is that from my perspective, he seems to have forgotten his job is to represent the state of Connecticut," Klau said. "His conduct in many instances has seemed more akin to an attorney in private practice representing Sandy Hook families."

...Mark Dupuis, a spokesman for Sedensky, said the summary released on Monday will not include the state police report, which is expected to total thousands of pages. It was not clear when the full report would be released.


A lot of eager news outlets seem to be misrepresenting what's just been released as the "final" report.
posted by mediareport at 6:12 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the section of the Final Report section headed "Shooter - Autopsy Information": "No drugs were found in the shooter’s system." I assume that in this report that drugs would include OTC and prescribed medication, not just illicit street drugs. Thanks Daddy-O. Call me a cynic, but I wouldn't make that assumption myself. And "drugs"? Why not "evidence of having taken drugs"?
posted by TristanPK at 6:15 AM on November 26, 2013


Also from the report: " the shooter did not drink alcohol, take drugs, prescription or otherwise..."
posted by DarlingBri at 6:16 AM on November 26, 2013


Thanks DarlingBri. I was going to concede gracefully, until I saw the first word of the sentence you quote: "Reportedly...".
posted by TristanPK at 6:21 AM on November 26, 2013


Also from the report: " the shooter did not drink alcohol, take drugs, prescription or otherwise..."

The main problem is that he tested positive for gun ownership.
posted by pracowity at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


RonButNotStupid: "it would be nice to establish a precedent where gun owners are at civilly responsible for crimes committed with their weapons."
In Germany, you can be criminally liable if you do not adequately secure your weapons. The father of the Winnenden school shooting perpetrator got convicted of involuntary manslaughter and received a 21 month suspended jail sentence for not keeping his 9mm pistol locked up.
posted by brokkr at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

This. Everyone keeps handwringing over "oh, we may never know what motivated him to do what he did." The motivation was that he was fucking crazy.
posted by Melismata at 6:35 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


In Germany, you can be criminally liable if you do not adequately secure your weapons. The father of the Winnenden school shooting perpetrator got convicted of involuntary manslaughter and received a 21 month suspended jail sentence for not keeping his 9mm pistol locked up.

I don't know how the details should work exactly -- Should I be more liable if someone shoots a person than if they hold up a convenience store? Am I free of liability if my guns are in a vault but someone still manages to steal them? -- but as a gun owner I'd be fully in support of this. I go to a fair degree of trouble and expense to keep my guns secure, and it deeply angers me that so many people are so casual about firearm safety and storage. I'm all for a the second amendment, but that needs to come with serious responsibilities as well.

But at the same time, how would the mother going to jail make what is already a terrible situation any better? The deeper problem is the way violence pervades our society, how few barriers there are to getting access to firearms by people who should never even have access to a butter knife, and how mass shootings seem to be becoming just part of the background noise, noteworthy only when they involve an unusually flashy element. The fixes to that are going to come from big changes, not from small adjustments, but there's certainly no political will or ability to even start that.

Sad and frustrating.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


UConn law school prof Dan Klau has posted his initial thoughts about the Sandy Hook Summary Report. Klau has been one of the most vocal critics, on First Amendment and other legal grounds, of the State Attorney's refusal to release the 911 calls. Klau also argues the state has also been stretching child abuse laws to the breaking point to justify its refusal to release basic public information in this particular case.

You'd have to be a sociopathic clod not to sympathize with the families' desire to not have, e.g., the 911 calls made public, but there seem to be some serious legal implications regarding freedom of information in Connecticut for not doing so.
posted by mediareport at 6:52 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]




Other items found in his room:

A Christmas check from the mother to the shooter to purchase a CZ 83 firearm...


I don't know what to say.

But to change the focus from guns for a minute, the actions of the teachers in this (and many other school shootings, including last month's in Nevada) were beyond heroic. I think of them whenever I hear someone putting down teachers as lazy, incompetent, union-protected obstructionists who are responsible for all the shortcomings of education in this country. Among my many ex-military friends one of the highest compliments you can pay someone is to say "I'd take a bullet for that guy". Well these teachers, who as far as I can tell are not really different from most of the teachers in this country, did take bullets for their students. Those actions speak a lot louder than the criticisms so often leveled at teachers by would-be eduction reformers (who really just want to cut funding and/or privatize schools rather than improve them).
posted by TedW at 6:53 AM on November 26, 2013 [33 favorites]


Writing a check for his guns...even with a sane child, I wouldn't place my money towards purchasing that. If you have an entire arsenal in your house, WHY do you need one more?

I think the report is a bunch of b.s. looking at him instead of looking at the enabler of this kid--the mother. I know she's dead and all but still---none of this would have happened if she gained some control. Not knowing what to do is a cop out in her situation. The father wanted to be present--the kid shot him down. The brother wanted to be present--the kid shot him down. The mother even wanted to be present--the kid shot her down. I don't understand these parents who won't go over their kid's precious boundaries when they're living in their house. He won't open the door???? Take it off the hinges.

Sorry for babbling but this whole situation just angers me beyond words and the anger is far from finger pointing solely at Adam Lanza. The report needs to focus on his mother's failure to be a mother and a responsible human being. The wrongful death suit to me, sounds valid. Unfortunately, hitting her estate affects her other son who is innocent.
posted by stormpooper at 6:55 AM on November 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


But at the same time, how would the mother going to jail make what is already a terrible situation any better?

Presumably it would dissuade other stupid people from doing the same stupid thing.
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are very few regulations in the US regarding access to firearms or being a parent. The overlap of the Venn diagram in this case was horrific.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Adam Lanza was clearly of diminished mental capacity, pathologically lacking empathy or really any ability to look past himself.
I didn't get that from the bits quoted on Slate, that he was mentally ill in any way that was likely to prove dangerous to anyone.

The dangerous thing wasn't that he was mentally ill (what was his diagnosis anyway?). The dangerous thing was that he was obsessed with mass killings, particularly of children, and collecting guns.

I think one ought to worry about that with anybody, whether they have a clean bill of mental health or not.

The problem with connecting mental illness to violence is most people have a really fuzzy notion of mental illness as "anything where people seem all fucked up to us." So anybody who does unspeakably terrible things is retroactively understood to have been mentally ill, because only crazy people do that right?

But that fuzzy "fucked up kind of guy" concept of mental illness is not the same thing as mental illness as a thing you can identify, diagnose, treat, and make predictions about.

Mental illness as diganosed by psychiatrists based on known and agreed-upon symptoms has a negative correlation to violence.

"Mental illness" as diagnosed by armchair forensics experts based on the violence somebody *already* committed the previous day, strangely enough, has a very high correlation to violence.

So really in order to prevent violence by "mentally ill" people what we need is a squadron of armchair forensics experts with time machines.
posted by edheil at 7:13 AM on November 26, 2013 [26 favorites]


If Lanza's mother could manage to afford an arsenal for her "mentally ill" child despite the claim that she couldn't work because of his "mental illness" she could probably have afforded getting him some help.
posted by tommasz at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Presumably it would dissuade other stupid people from doing the same stupid thing.

Well, Nancy Lanza is dead now, which purely in terms of the incentive effects on other stupid people should amount to the same thing. Maybe even better, due to the publicity.

But that fuzzy "fucked up kind of guy" concept of mental illness is not the same thing as mental illness as a thing you can identify, diagnose, treat, and make predictions about.

People seem to derive a lot of comfort from the idea that if we just had a sufficiently compassionate society, then it would be trivial to identify and "treat" people with mental illness, and then all these problems would be solved.
posted by leopard at 7:41 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]




Scram: "The only thing in this very slim report that stood out to me as possibly suggesting motive was the presence of material on pedophiles' rights. Was Adam Lanza a non-practicing pedophile lashing out at the objects of his desire?"

That's what I thought after reading more about the Dunblane school shooting this was first compared to, which was committed by a troubled former scoutmaster widely suspected of abusing his scouts. It might explain why Lanza went to such trouble to destroy the hard drive.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


So really in order to prevent violence by "mentally ill" people what we need is a squadron of armchair forensics experts with time machines.

No, what we need to do is stop cutting mental health services and whitewashing people's weird behavior in the name of "oh, he isn't that bad, he's just weird."
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's quite possible Ms. Lanza was afraid of her son, and also lacked enough resources to get him help and out of her home. Guns are a lot less expensive and more accessible than a lifetime of mental health care for a physically healthy young man, and perhaps refusing to buy him things meant violent tantrums she could not control. If she did not know about his Columbine obsession, and he had never shot anyone else, she might really not have had any idea that guns were anything he loved as more than a hobby. Or she did, but decided not to believe her own fears, as people often do where their children are concerned.

I'm not saying she was a saint, but pillorying her as a monster sidesteps the right questions.
posted by emjaybee at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


"...whitewashing people's weird behavior in the name of "oh, he isn't that bad, he's just weird."

And -boom- every teenager who isn't 'normal' or popular gets "treatment" as terrified America overreacts again. Then we can bitch about that.

Guns aren't going away for many many decades here. Not going to happen.
posted by umberto at 9:04 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't get that from the bits quoted on Slate, that he was mentally ill in any way that was likely to prove dangerous to anyone.

In the report, acquaintances of Nancy state that she described Adam as completely lacking emotion and empathy.

The dangerous thing wasn't that he was mentally ill (what was his diagnosis anyway?). The dangerous thing was that he was obsessed with mass killings, particularly of children, and collecting guns.

I'm not trying to stigmatize anyone. Mental illness takes many forms, and no one should mistreated or ostracized merely because they fit into a very broad category.

But if you know that your child isn't able to feel connections to others, or remorse, it is incredibly reckless to provide said child with efficient tools for harming other people. I wish that Nancy Lanza had lived so that she could see the the destruction that she caused.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Among my many ex-military friends one of the highest compliments you can pay someone is to say "I'd take a bullet for that guy". Well these teachers, who as far as I can tell are not really different from most of the teachers in this country, did take bullets for their students.

As did several of the teachers in the Virginia Tech massacre. Which also did nothing to change this country's sick gun culture.

I agree with the comments upthread that occasional massacres are just the price we pay for Second Amendment absolutism and the gun industry's political power.
posted by Gelatin at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe she hoped he would kill himself.

Frankly, I think her motives were quite pedestrian in our American culture. She was a gun enthusiast in a country with gun enthusiasm. She liked shooting, buying, owning and discussing guns with her gun friends. She had a son, a son she knows well. The narrative of the "responsible gun owner" is an individual who educates their children on proper gun use and safety. This is so their children will respect the power of the gun and not misuse or mishandle. It's all very intellectually straightforward and reasonable until you have a situation like this and then you know it's bullshit.

I fully believe that she knew her son would not do something like this. She also knew that her display of trust was good for him, good for their relationship. She was wrong.
posted by amanda at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


the NRA set would make this into some kind of rallyingmarketing point for their causebusiness.

The only thing that sells more guns than a mass shooting is the public reaction to a mass shooting. The NRA is a marketing organization that runs off extra money given to them by their customers. The only other industry that comes close to that level of customer captivity is the Oil industry. Cha-ching.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying she was a saint, but pillorying her as a monster sidesteps the right questions.

Not to me. If she was so damn afraid, why didn't she lock up her guns? Why didn't she keep ammo separate? Why did she choose those guns? Why did she write a check FOR her son to buy his own gun?

If you don't know your own child, it's because you're either inept or don't want to know/care. I think it's possible she was overwhelmed but she CHOSE not to know how far is problems were going towards. I'm not saying spectrum disorder or whatever he had wasn't hard to control, manage, or figure out. But if they are so lost and afraid of their own child, why buy guns that are easily accessible? For his age, she could have easily just kicked him out, shoved him out on his father, or just moved saying "whelp, you're on your own now" and even then I could say that her ineptness in handling the situation left her no choice but she chose to stay with him, ignore him, etc. His behavior in not caring about her living or dying was a tell tale sign as well that she was in danger.

I think this is way bigger than what this report can ever guess by piecing together his browser history and gun collection. Ignoring her part in this is the biggest missing puzzle to why Adam Lanza did what he did.

And figuring out this puzzle or any other school shooter will not prevent others from doing it. It will always be a different reason, motive, and action. Bullying, mental issues, anger issues, revenge issues....Perhaps it is just the desensitization of violence and the consequences people suffer under is the problem. Murder/suicide doesn't give you reasons and accomplishes everything the perpetrator wanted to accomplish---extreme violence, power, and sadness at their hands w/out anything changing. After Columbine, NIU, Sandy Hook, even Yale yesterday---anyone can buy a gun. Anyone can bring a gun to a school, movie theater, parking lot....and anyone can kill anyone w/out anything happening to them if they want to end their own lives.

People may be responsible for killing people but for me, guns and civilian access are the common denomenator in all of these shootings.
posted by stormpooper at 9:15 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, what we need to do is stop cutting mental health services and whitewashing people's weird behavior in the name of "oh, he isn't that bad, he's just weird."

And then after we do that we can get on a soapbox and talk eloquently about how oppressive authoritarian politicians and various profit-seeking corporate interests are joining forces to stigmatize and medicate everyone who isn't supposedly "normal" and how voters are terrible people who exercise their privilege by overreacting to perceived threats. That's like a thousand Metafilter FPPs right there.
posted by leopard at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I fully believe that she knew her son would not do something like this. She also knew that her display of trust was good for him, good for their relationship. She was wrong.

If you asked my parents, I was probably capable of driving a car at age 14. But they never let me drive until I was 16 and had my permit because it's not up to them to decide whether I'm qualified to be out on the road, no matter how much they might trust me.

Why in the world can someone just buy high powered weapons and give them to anyone on faith that they won't use it to cause serious harm?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:20 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's quite possible Ms. Lanza was afraid of her son

so she bought him many guns?

and also lacked enough resources to get him help and out of her home.

There's no record that she even tried past his adolescence.

Guns are a lot less expensive and more accessible than a lifetime of mental health care for a physically healthy young man and perhaps refusing to buy him things meant violent tantrums she could not control.

"You have tantrums that terrify me? I'd better give you weapons, then!"

If she did not know about his Columbine obsession, and he had never shot anyone else, she might really not have had any idea that guns were anything he loved as more than a hobby.

She didn't. But I think good parents probably know when their kid is planning mass murder.

Or she did, but decided not to believe her own fears, as people often do where their children are concerned.

I think you're right here, and she elected to discount any thought that her child-- obsessed with guns, living a hermetic existence in a room with garbage bags taped over the windows and communicating with her only via email for the last three months of his life-- was capable of blowing up.

I'm not saying she was a saint, but pillorying her as a monster sidesteps the right questions.

No, it gets right to the heart of the most important question: why on Earth would you arm such a disturbed individual, even if he's your son?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:20 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, maybe the report should look into ways of proving if Adam Lanza or any other school shooter didn't have guns, what alternative means do the mentally ill, unstable, revenge seekers have to hurt their target or innocent people?

Not everyone can make a bomb to kill off the most people in the shortest amount of time.
Not everyone can stab multiple people.
Not everyone can ram their car through a building and hit their target.
Not everyone is a chemist to make poison gas or other chemicals.

So how do you stop civilians from accomplishing mass death in the shortest amount of time? The current gun laws and availability surely isn't helping. But even w/ stricter background checks, it only prevents those with a documented history or criminal background. Adam Lanza had no criminal background. His behavioral/mental problems didn't prevent him from accessing interaction with the general public. And we used to lock people up in mental institutions for life. That didn't work in the past either.

So....how do you stop other school shootings? Take out the possibility to pull a trigger.
posted by stormpooper at 9:21 AM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It bothers me that the report refers to Lanza as "the shooter" throughout. Just plain "Lanza" would have worked, as well as "the perpetrator." "The shooter" seems to be creeping into our language - but it always seems to me like some kind of Hollywood cop-speak that has a whiff of excitement or even glamour. (In fact, it was the title of a 2007 action movie.) Besides, someone can be a "shooter" and not shoot at people, so the word also has this neutral feel to it as opposed to "the murderer" or "the killer," which better describe the action being performed.
posted by Mid at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


she might really not have had any idea that guns were anything he loved as more than a hobby.

I feel a bit sorry for her -- it must have been hard to manage a kid like that all by herself -- but a good parent doesn't give her child assault weapons, and especially when the child is obviously a mental mess. It's just as well that she died first. She wouldn't have wanted to see what followed and known that she at least partly caused it.
posted by pracowity at 9:24 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also agree that the actions of the mother in buying this kid guns are just not comprehensible. It's weird to arm your teenager to begin with, but this was clearly a kid with real problems. It's normal and good to be suspicious of a "blame the mother" explanation - which has been a trope in mental illness-type scenarios for a long time - but in this case the actions of the mother show inexplicably terrible judgment.
posted by Mid at 9:27 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that lots of people with guns as a hobby have no fucking clue about anything. Living in a state of self delusion isn't necessarily a pre-requisite for gun ownership but it seems pretty damn common.
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I too question why his mother would arm him as she did. All the 2nd amendment/gun advocates I know would never ask this question. For them guns are an unquestionable good. A solution to all problems. Hell they came right out and explicitly said this almost immediately afterwards. In my neck of the woods it seems most people advocate nothing less then the entire populous openly carry firearms and fire at the slightest provocation. It's sad.

I would imagine his mother felt the same way. It never crossed her mind that giving her son guns was a bad thing to do. Just the opposite.

Like I have seen it said before we have lost the fight on gun control. If killing a dozen 1st graders doesn't change things nothing will.
posted by Justin Case at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't help wonder how different the response would have been if it had been at a school like Sidwell Friends.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't help wonder how different the response would have been if it had been at a school like Sidwell Friends.

I have not wondered about that at all, so I'm curious: what 'response' are you talking about?
posted by cjelli at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2013


You can't help wonder how different the response would have been if it had been at a school like Sidwell Friends.

If there aren't at least one or two Secret Service agents hiding in the bushes around there, I would be very surprised. The response I would expect would be one crazy kid shot dead before he could get into the school and cause trouble.

But I don't want armed guards at every school. I want no crazy kids running around with assault weapons their moms bought them for fun.
posted by pracowity at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2013


Armchair probing of Nancy and Adam Lanza's psyches is gossip at best, pernicious derail at worst. We will never know enough about that family to figure out Nancy Lanza's competence as a mother. Unless someone here lived in that house, we probably have absolutely no clue what it was like to be Nancy Lanza. My guess is her life wasn't simple, definitely not simple enough for us to give her an Internet Commenter Mom Rating.

The availability of lethal weapons is an easier problem for society to solve than is the problem of individuals making weird, questionable decisions. We shouldn't get distracted from that.
posted by serif at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's too bad we can't know whether or not Lanza's father tried to do anything else to create a closer relationship with his son, and it's hard to figure out what to think given the paucity of the report regarding their relationship. Regardless, it's sad to think that once Lanza refused to see his father and brother, that was that and it's implied that they just didn't bother afterwards.

Did his father know that his ex-wife was buying all these weapons? Did he have any knowledge of his son's emotional and psychological issues? Of course his mother made several tragic mistakes and is responsible for her purchases and for giving her son access to guns, but where was the rest of the family - and I don't mean the older son? And Lanza wouldn't take his meds? Did anyone find out why and propose alternatives? This is beyond tragic that there were so many signs that something was wrong with this young man and no one would've known, really, except that he MURDERED 26 PEOPLE.

There's so many questions, but this is just one case. There's too many people out there whose inchoate anger and anti-social thoughts reinforce each other without anyone intervening to help break the cycle, there's too many families that are too distant from each other so that no one has anyone supporting each other, and there's just too many guns.
posted by droplet at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


We need to provide mental health services because people need them, not because we're afraid crazy people will perpetrate mass murders if we don't.

Think what kind of "mental health services" would be provided by a society which believes mentally ill people are liable to kill them if they're not provided with "services."

Would you want those "services"?

"The crazy people are gonna kill us all!" is a *terrible* rationale for providing mental health care, and embracing it will result in terrible mental health care (and an entirely reasonable wish to *avoid* that mental health care at all costs on the part of anybody who needs it).
posted by edheil at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Been re-reading the Sky Walker thread; in that story, there's a major element of "no one can raise my disabled son the way I can!". I wonder if the father and brother tried to help, but she pushed them away.
posted by Melismata at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reading even those snippets made my blood run icy cold.

The report's usage of the term "the shooter" instead of his name has the (intended or unintended?) consequence of making him out to be an "other," not a person. A very damaged person, but a person nonetheless.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2013


"The crazy people are gonna kill us all!" is a *terrible* rationale for providing mental health care

I'm not clear on where people are doing this. Events like Sandy Hook make people wonder why a guy that did this wasn't able to find help before things went so wrong. It shines a light on the lack of resources for people who haven't done anything, and how wrong it can go.
posted by Hoopo at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I would like to mention is that I had a very positive encounter with one of the people helping set up trauma counseling for those effected by the massacre on Sandy Hook. He told me that the goal has been to get the best of the best counselors down there to work with the children, families and communities for the long term. So hurray Connecticut for that anyways.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not clear on where people are doing this.

Right after the tragedy, some people were advocating mental health databases, so that guns wouldn't be sold to "crazy" people. It didn't matter to them that Lanza got his guns mainly from his mother, nor did it master that there are many different kinds of mental disorders.

And really, people are not okay having some gun control, but totally okay violating the privacy rights of an entire group of people is beyond me...

I'm totally for destigmatizing mental disorder and getting more funding and better access for treatment, but I have a feeling it's not really gonna stop gun violence. Neither the mass shooter type nor the trickle of deaths from crime or lack of gun safety.
posted by FJT at 12:15 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because mental illness is in and of itself not a predictor for violence. Statistically, her son was more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator.
This seems to be frequently brought up in conversations like this. It's a total non sequitur.

A mentally ill person being more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator is completely unrelated to whether or not a mentally ill person is more likely to be a perpetrator than is a non-mentally ill person.
posted by Flunkie at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Events like Sandy Hook make people wonder why a guy that did this wasn't able to find help before things went so wrong.

A guy like this often isn't looking to find help before things go wrong, and is not unlikely to actively turn help down. "It is known that the shooter had significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close. As an adult he did not recognize or help himself deal with those issues." This isn't just a matter of resources and compassion, although those are also unfortunately lacking. Mental health issues are hard.
posted by leopard at 12:48 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


A mentally ill person being more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator is completely unrelated to whether or not a mentally ill person is more likely to be a perpetrator than is a non-mentally ill person.

But with the exception of a few specific diagnoses, a mentally ill person IS NOT more likely to be a perpetrator than is a non-mentally ill person:

"As a group, people with mental health issues are not more violent than any other group in our society... A small group of people with mental illness (those with severe and untreated symptoms of schizophrenia with psychosis, major depression or bi-polar mood disorder) may have an increased rate of violence." Source: Canadian Mental Health Association

Aside from being young and male, Adam Lanza had none of the risk factors that would increase the likelihood that he would do something like this. He was not diagnosed with any of the above conditions that would make him more likely to be violent than the general population. He was not a substance abuser, he was not homeless or living in poverty, and had no history of violence. The report states that "Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior."
posted by DarlingBri at 12:59 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fine, then if true say that, not some unrelated nonsense. But even your new link goes immediately into non sequitur mode ("most crime is not caused by the mentally ill", or some such), which, given the frequency with which the "more likely to be a perpetrator" non sequitur is trotted out, doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in it.
posted by Flunkie at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2013


Even if the link said that mentally ill people were more likely to commit violent crimes than those who are not mentally ill, it would still be in non sequitur mode, because literally nothing follows from that. This whole digression is a non sequitur.
posted by leopard at 1:15 PM on November 26, 2013


Apparently a judge has ruled that the 911 call tapes must be made publicly available.
posted by axiom at 1:46 PM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is known that the shooter had significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close. As an adult he did not recognize or help himself deal with those issues. What contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown as those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.

What was the evidence available ahead of time that Lanza was more dangerous than any other gun owner? Just the mental health issues?

Living in a state of self delusion isn't necessarily a pre-requisite for gun ownership but it seems pretty damn common.

It seems pretty common among non-gun owners as well, it's just that thankfully there are fewer opportunities for such drastic consequences.

I still can't conceive of any reason other than pure insanity why a mother would provide her mentally ill son with an arsenal.

It seems like people who aren't gun owners get hung up on the arsenal thing. Unless you think the mere possession of more than one gun increases the likelihood of going on a rampage, the real issue is the bushmaster AR-15 with its lethality and ammunition capacity. An arsenal is a big deal when you pair it with a nutjob militia, but in this case it's the 'worst' gun they owned that is the issue.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:02 PM on November 26, 2013


"...As an adult he did not recognize or help himself deal with those issues."

Too bad we can't provide mental health care for kids then, eh?
posted by BlueHorse at 5:15 PM on November 26, 2013


Riders On The Storm : Colorado has pumped nearly $25 million into mental health crisis care since the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. Those on the front lines of this battle know it isn’t nearly enough, but they’ll take all the help they can get.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:08 PM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


... but in this case it's the 'worst' gun they owned that is the issue.

I'm sorry. Had Lanza entered the school with mass slaughter of children in mind carrying only a pistol and some primitive one-shot rifle, you'd be reasoning, how? ... that the guns at hand weren't an issue? Why do you think these guys carry trusty backups? Aesthetics? (The Colorado guy's "issue" jammed, from memory.)
posted by de at 6:56 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm saying the low hanging fruit in gun control is high capacity magazines. Granted two guns makes someone more dangerous than one. However, 20 guns doesn't make a single person all that much more effective at killing people than two guns. I think there are issues with people collecting arsenals if they are contemplating starting a militia and planning revolution, or pairing up with people to commit mass murder. I'm not sure how frequent that kind of case is as far as warranting policy consideration over things like better background checks, better education, more liability for unsecured guns, etc...
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:30 PM on November 26, 2013


BrotherCaine: "I'm saying the low hanging fruit in gun control is high capacity magazines."

Sadly, it's still not hanging very low, as it didn't even make it into the watered-down Manchin-Toomey bill, which couldn't pass the Senate.

Stricter background checks are probably the lowest-hanging fruit, but every time we build a ladder to reach any fruit at all, the NRA knocks it down.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]




Newtown: One Year After
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2013


Inside the Power of the N.R.A.
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on December 19, 2013


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