Why Did Sandy Hook Happen? Because He Had A Gun.

We are slightly more than four sad months away from the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook. The deaths of 20 young schoolchildren, 6 adults, plus the shooter and his mother unleashed a firestorm of emotion and controversy which persists today and shapes the attitudes and strategies of the two opposing sides in the gun debate. One side, led by national gun-control organizations Brady and Everytown keeps up a steady drumbeat to strengthen laws which promote keeping guns away from high-risk individuals; the other side, led by the NRA, wants it easier for individuals to arm themselves as well as abolishing gun-free zones.

sandy             There’s only one little problem with both arguments: neither would have prevented what happened at Sandy Hook. If you don’t believe me, read the thousand-plus pages produced by the State’s Attorney, the Office of Child Advocate and the Department of Emergency Services to try and learn why a 20-year old, part-time college student who was never considered a risk or a threat to himself or anyone else put four bullets into his mother, then shot 26 adults and children, then turned  a gun on himself. I’ll save you the trouble of reading and tell you that you won’t find out why Adam Lanza did what he did.

On December 20, 2012, six days after the shooting, a family therapist who gives advice to lovesick callers on her bi-weekly radio show wrote an article for Psychology Today: “Was Adam Lanza an Undiagnosed Schizophrenic?” This expert judged the event as a ‘failure of the mental health system’ because had the shooter been diagnosed properly, perhaps all those dead adults and children would still be alive. The author, Jamie Turndorf, also knew that his behavior represented ‘extreme acting out of pent up rage.” The fact that Dr. Turndorf had never seen Adam, was writing on the basis of a few pieces of informal gossip and was helping the hucksters at Psychology Today turn an unspeakable tragedy into a quick buck is, or course, besides the point.

In 1999 following Columbine, the government convened a team of experts drawn from relevant disciplines (mental health, law enforcement, education) to study mass shootings and create a ‘treat assessment’ tool which could be used to identify youngsters who might pose a significant risk to themselves and/or others in school.  Their report, which still guides emergency planning initiatives, was based on the study of 18 school shootings and concludes that the reasons why such events occur “remain elusive.”

At the same time, the experts also identified misinformation about such events which “is not necessarily complete, accurate, or balanced. News coverage magnifies a number of widespread but wrong or unverified impressions of school shooters.” And what is stated to be a major unverified explanation for mass school shootings? Ready? “Easy access to weapons is THE most significant risk factor.” [Their bold.]

Are these so-called experts serious? Do they have any idea what they are talking about? Unless I don’t know how to read English, what this blue-ribbon panel is saying, and this report was endorsed both by the Director of the FBI and the Attorney General of the United States, is that they don’t know the exact reason why young men commit acts of mass violence in schools, but they do know that it’s not because they get their hands on guns.

I am currently writing a book about Sandy Hook and one issue I am forced to examine is the Alex Jones-type of conspiracy theories still proliferating throughout the alt-right blogosphere, theories that take advantage of initial reportage from mainstream media which contained statements that were either bungled or wrong. But nobody, not even the looniest conspiracy hucksters have ever tried to claim that a mass shooting would be possible without access to a highly-lethal, hi-capacity gun.

You can play around with all the behavioral theories you want, but Adam Lanza killed 26 people inside two classrooms, standing in each room for two minutes or less.

7 thoughts on “Why Did Sandy Hook Happen? Because He Had A Gun.

  1. The bottom line is you can’t always screen for this stuff and when you catch it in advance, it might be luck rather than skill. Even when you have a strong hunch, as in the Aurora shooter, the shrink was hamstrung as to whether she had enough data to act. Oops.

    So if there are a lot of guns around, every once in a while we have to pay the price with a Sandy Hook or more often, a generic “I lost my job today/my wife left me/I got cut off in traffic by an @$$hole and boy, am I pissed off”. No way around it. Regardless of what Brady, Everytown, the GVP researchers, or the NRA tell us we should be doing. Statistically, no system is 100% and like the fact of 300 million cars out there means we will have 35,000 deaths in spite of all our traffic controls, the 300 million guns out there mean some will be misused and when they are misused, they do one thing very well: Bang. Yer dead.

  2. “The school master warned his students not to harm his tame sparrow. One boy stepped on the bird and killed it. Days later when the boy returned to school, the master took him into a private room and strangled him to death. The boy’s father went to the school and shot the schoolmaster dead.”
    This happened in Alabama in the mid 1800’s. Whether the tool was hands, feet, knife, rock, etc., there will always be killings because live in a violent world. The first known murder is recorded to have occurred 430,000 years ago. Since the beginning of time we have had people who kill and others write books about killing. There will always be people who profit off others misery.
    Good luck.

  3. ‘One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — and Its Aftermath’
    by Seierstad, Åsne is about Anders Brevik who was like the Sandy Hook shooter. Both lived with their mothers, spent many hours on computer games and some people say they were autistic and became famous.

      • Same as the millions of ‘modern sporting rifles’ in America that never are used to hurt a soul. I sent the link to the book since the post was about the ‘why’ of Sandy Hook.

      • True.


        “…There are legitimate questions as to why a private citizen should own high capacity (i.e., 30-50 round magazine autoloading) weapons primarily developed for the battlefield with no strings attached ( I find the difference between semiautomatic and full auto capability a distinction without a difference in the present context). Indeed, the Swiss and Israelis, who have allowed citizens to keep arms for their universal “militias”, have increasingly put restrictions on them. That said, efforts at eliminating or regulating “assault rifles” have been introduced long after the horses left the barn. Civilian,, semi-automatic versions of the M-16 and AK-47, which with their various sister and successor rifles have become iconic in some circles, were introduced half a century or more ago and the vast majority never make the news. No serious thought was given to restricting civilian versions of modern military rifles before they became popular; once a very porous ban (of dubious utility) was finally proposed in the nineties, it became an “out of my cold, dead hands” controversy. Further, the ban made no real sense as it left millions in circulation and finally, the ban was often based more on appearance than function. Even millions more are now out there and although they are used in a few high profile slaughters (Aurora, Newtown, etc,), they are largely not the weapon of choice for street crime shootings. Furthermore, they are ideal home defense weapons for the same reason the Marines want them for close quarter combat. That all said, if lunatics continue to use them to deliver high velocity carnage to schools, theatres, and fire departments, some sort of regulation is inevitable on public safety grounds (and is likely permissible under Heller). Constitutional issues aside, we let just about everyone drive (and some do a bad job of it, leading to more than 30,000 traffic deaths a year). We don’t let everybody drive a Freightliner…”

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