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article imageOp-Ed: Lessons to learn from Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook School shooter

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 15, 2012 in Crime
Adam Lanza, 20, the young man who shot 27 people, including 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn., on Friday, was a loner suspected to be autistic.
The Daily Mail reports he shot his mother Nancy Lanza, a kindergarten teacher at their upscale suburban home. He reportedly shot her in the face before he armed himself with guns registered in her name, took her car and drove to Sandy Hooks Elementary School.
Nancy Lanza's arsenal of weapons is surprising for a kindergarten teacher and mother: Two semi-automatic pistols, a Glock (9mm, 17 rounds) and a Sig Sauer P226 (Caliber 9mm, 15 rounds). Her arsenal also included a .223 Remington (Magazine 30+ rounds).
He arrived at the Sandy Hook Elementary School about 9:30 a.m. He used the Glock and Sig Sauer to massacre an entire classroom of children and several others in a second class before he shot himself.
He also killed the Principal Dawn Hochsprung, and the school psychologist in the hallway.
The Daily Mail reports the police found the .223 Remington in the back of the car at the school, and the two pistols inside the school.
The emerging profile of the killer
The New York Times reports that Adam Lanza is believed to have suffered mental disabilities suspected to be either Asperger's Syndrome or some other form of high-functioning autism (HFA). According to The Washington Post, a former baby sitter said he was "rambunctious" as a teenager and prone to temper tantrums and had to be medicated to control his moods.
The New York Times paints a picture of the loner in his high school days:
"He carried a black briefcase to his 10th-grade honors English class, and sat near the door so he could readily slip in and out. When called upon, he was intelligent, but nervous and fidgety...
"Pale, tall and scrawny, Adam Lanza walked through high school... with his hands glued to his sides... He did all he could to avoid attention, it seemed. Until Friday.
"In his brief adulthood, Mr. Lanza had left few footprints, electronic or otherwise. He apparently had no Facebook page... Adam Lanza did not even appear in his high school yearbook, that of the class of 2010. His spot on the page said, 'Camera shy.'"
Olivia DeVivo, a student at the University of Connecticut, who remembered Lanza from high school, said none of those who knew him in high school were surprised when it emerged he was the suspect in the shooting. Olivia told The New York Times:
“You could tell that he felt so uncomfortable about being put on the spot. I think that maybe he wasn't given the right kind of attention or help. I think he went so unnoticed that people didn't even stop to realize that maybe there’s actually something else going on here — that maybe he needs to be talking or getting some kind of mental help. In high school, no one really takes the time to look and think, ‘Why is he acting this way?'"
Another person who knew him at high school, Alex Israel, said that although he kept to himself, he was a very bright student, "above the rest of us." She said he was never violent.
At first, police thought his brother Ryan Lanza, was the shooter. Police arrested Ryan for questioning at his home in Hoboken in New Jersey, after the shooting. According to the Daily Mail, he posted on Facebook that he was not the shooter before he was arrested. He said he believed his brother could be the shooter.
The Stamford Advocate reports Adam's father, Peter Lanza, who is divorced from Nancy, and lives in Stamford, learned of the incidence from reporters who went to his home. The Stamford Advocate reports his expression registered surprise and then horror when he learned of the incident.
The aftermath
Photos showing children being led out of the school, crying and holding hands, with families of victims grieving have continued to shock an entire nation. According to the Daily Mail, a music teacher, Maryrose Kristopik, saved her 15 students by locking them in a closet. The killer banged on the door shouting: "Let me in! Let me in!"
A mother said: "I want to thank my child's music teacher. She saved their lives."
Digital Journal reports President Obama wept as he spoke of the shooting, saying "Our hearts are broken today." He said in tears:
"The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost."
Digital Journal reports that Mayor Bloomberg, reacting to Obama's speech, criticized him for having made no commitment for an immediate action on gun laws. He said:
"We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again... For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action."
The mother of two who 'collected guns' for hobby
And finally, the vexing question of the kindergarten teacher and mother of two who collected guns for hobby. The Washington Post reports that an unnamed man who knew the family defended Nancy Lanza, saying: “I know her. My family knew her. She was a respectable collector [of guns]. She used them responsibly. It’s not her fault that any of this happened.”
Are deadly automatic weapons toys that mothers and housewives collect for hobby? Is this the responsible sense in which the supposed "right [of civilians to] bear [military-type] arms" understood by Americans?
What lessons have we to learn from the fact that guns procured ostensibly for self-protection end up more often maiming and killing friends, relatives and innocents than the largely bogeyman enemy who most often never shows up, but in anticipation of whom we must stock up on deadly weapons and ammunition to defend ourselves against, and thus endangering ourselves and loved ones?
Meanwhile, a prayer vigil was held at the Newton United Methodist Church following the shooting, a tragic mishap involving a mother who legally collected guns for hobby.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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