NRA President: Adam Lanza Was ‘Driven By Demons’

Last week, I wrote about the wrongheadedness of describing Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the Newtown massacre, as “Evil.” The word “Evil” very often connotes not merely moral judgment, but divine judgment, so as much as secular people might want to appropriate the word for nonreligious ends, most Americans will inevitably associate it with hazy notions of sin, the immaterial soul, eternal punishment, etc.

On Friday, NRA president Wayne LaPierre went on a rambling tirade, some of which I quoted in a post. Here are another few telling lines:

Wayne LaPierre (via Hollywood Reporter)

The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?

This shtick is obviously intended to stoke fear, in part because fearful people are more likely to purchase firearms, which benefits the gun industry on whose behalf LaPierre lobbies. But also note how LaPierre characterizes Lanza: an “Evil” monster who is “driven by demons.”

No one yet knows how to explain Adam Lanza’s actions, but it is highly doubtful that demons are what drove him to carry out the massacre. In fact, there is no good evidence for the existence of demons to begin with, just like there is no good evidence for the existence of any other supernatural entity.

When “Evil” is treated as a satisfactory explanation for aberrant human behavior, there is less incentive to discover the true cause of the behavior.

About michaeltracey

Journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Follow me on Twitter at @mtracey.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Just another example of how religious delusions permeate and impair logical thinking.

    They still characterize mental illness the way that superstitious (i.e. religious) people did back in the dark ages. Demons!

    It is tough to get good solutions in the real world from people living in a superstitious fantasy land.

  • George Wiman

    Yes, I suppose the next Adam Lanza – whatever drives the most likely white privileged dude – is already out there planning his thing. And the NRA is working hard to make it easy for him.

  • rbray18

    nope. stop using the word good. for the same exact reason using the word evil is bad. too many people equate good with god.

  • Neil Rickert

    Maybe Wayne LaPierre is one of those “evil demons.”

  • Trickster Goddess

    I disagree. Like the billboards say, I’m good without god.

    I was raised in a religious family and while I was often told that god was good, goodness was never considered to be an exclusive property of god.

  • rbray18

    but evil however can never be considered without religion. that’s a croc. good and evil are linked. hard to have one without the other. but because you like the concept of good but not evil you want to forget 1 but not both. way to be selective there. guess picking and choosing is only bad when the religious does it.

  • keddaw

    Good for you.

    Define ‘good’.

  • keddaw

    There is so much worse in his speech, but I’m actually willing to give him a pass on this particular point. We often say alcoholics are driven by their demons (demon drink is a common phrase) and we don’t literally mean demons, we simply mean parts of their personality that are … not as we, or often they, would like them to be.

  • Glasofruix

    Except that we do not plan on selling more booze to them, which in LaPierre’s case is what he’s trying to accomplish.

  • Joseph

    Wait so what would you call that massacre? Bad? Evil is the right word. Mental illness or not the acts were evil.
    I don’t know what you do in real life. But I have spent 20 years dealing with people conducting evil acts on each other. I’m not some classroom philosopher. I’m an agnostic and a cop. There is evil hearts out there.
    God or no god.

  • LoudGuitr

    I prefer to think of good and evil in terms of right and wrong. Good and evil are theologically based terms. There are no demons, goblins, ghosts, pixies, fairies, zombies etc. The gun people are crazy.

  • Charles Bartley

    My ex wife was told that her mental illness was caused by “horrible demons with their talons in her brain.” What a stupid, useless diagnosis. When you see sin or demons as the cause of bad things, then the prime response is “repent, fear God’s judgement” not something directly addressing the problem, like say “we need improved mental health care.” This worldview encourages people to do nothing to improve the world, only to try and “save it.”

  • SeekerLancer

    I know a lifetime member of the NRA who left the organization over this nonsense. I hope they keep it up!

  • SeekerLancer

    The problem is not the word evil but rather in the context it’s often used to paint the world in black and white.

  • Mary Driftwood

    Labeling someone or something as “evil” is just plain lazy. It implies a lack of need to investigate further, or to learn from and understand an event or person better.

  • Kari Lynn

    Good and bad are linked. Someone can do something bad without being evil.

  • C Peterson

    Next time LaPierre goes to the doctor with cancer or some nasty infection, he should be told to go to a priest in order to exorcise those demons. If this guy is locked into a Middle Ages mentality, he should restrict himself to Middle Ages cures.

  • C Peterson

    “Evil” isn’t a very good word choice, although it’s arguably acceptable. But when you combine it with “driven by demons” and “deranged” you spin it completely out of the realm of reasonable rhetoric.

  • The Captain

    So is the word “good”. It is also used to paint the world in black and white (hint: it would be that “white” part).

  • Sue Blue

    Anything to avoid casting aspersions on guns…and anything to sell more guns.
    It’s not that semi-automatic guns enabled a mentally-ill man to mow down dozens of school children with ease; it’s demons. Without demons, those guns would have just been innocent little tubes of steel harmlessly cradling hundreds of rounds in their snazzy just-for-show clips, ready to provide hours of harmless fun piercing paper targets, tree stumps, and beer cans. Everyone knows bullets were never intended to pierce people! That’s just crazy talk! And now, the damned demons have ruined all that.
    Demons! Demons are out to get you! Liberal demons! Atheist demons! Socialist homosexual demons! Brown-people demons! Get your anti-demon guns and anti-demon ammo now! Hurry, supplies are running out! See your local gun dealer today!!!! Free NRA membership with every ammo purchase of 500 rounds or more. Hurry!!!!

  • Joules

    Allow me to climb my soapbox and play Devil’s Advocate for this…

    Other blogs are blaming Lanza for being mentally ill. They were doing this based on the fact that his brother said he had “something” but, depending on your news source, that something may have been schizophrenia, autism, bipolar or depression. This caused the blogosphere to ignite with their usual anti-mental illness rage which, as someone with Asperger’s, I can honestly tell you is just about as vehement as their anti-atheist rage.

    As I’ve noted on those blogs, a very small percentage of mental illnesses are outwardly combative. Of those, a small percent are actually a threat to society. How? Because “mental illness” encompasses everything from sociopathy to suicidal ideation and, within that realm, most of those people are merely a threat to themselves.

    I’ve said, more times than I like to count, that Lanza is simply a bad person. He could be mentally ill but most “mentally ill” people sense something is wrong about them and seek help. I know this, I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until my mid-20′s when I realized that my inability to empathize was abnormal. I’ve met many people through my diagnosis and they all said the more or less the same thing, “Something wasn’t right about. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t want to get to the point where I hurt myself or someone else.” He could have been stressed out but good people that are stressed out don’t shoot up schools.

    Call him “evil” if you will but he’s simply a bad person. When you’re a bad person, you don’t need a reason or demons or even logic to do something. Do you recall being a child and doing something senseless, having an adult ask you “Why?” and realizing that you honestly don’t know why you did it? That you simply did it because you could? That there was no reason or rationale and half the time you didn’t even think about it until after it was done? It’s like that but with the planned execution of children.

    We need to realize that, just as there are “good people” there are “bad people” and while you can talk all day about how someone is a good person (“She bakes cookies and gives to the poor!”, “He takes care of his family.”) you can’t explain what made them a good person and on the exact same note, you can’t explain why someone is a bad person. It’s not religion, it’s not mental illness, it’s not being mental wiring because for every person that has whatever they’ll eventually use to explain Lanza’s actions, there are going to be several dozen with the same diagnosis that couldn’t fathom hurting a human being.

  • wmdkitty


  • wmdkitty

    Holy crap, dude. THIS.

    Getting so tired of MI being the go-to “explanation” for some privileged white Christian heterosexual able-bodied male going off the gorram rails. Tired of fingers pointing at ALL of us for the act of ONE person. My diagnoses are part of who I am, and I sure as shit don’t appreciate being lumped in with the very same privileged white heterosexual Christian able-bodied males that are the problem!

    Heh, but gods forbid we ever talk about gun control, and the undue influence of the NRA…

  • Kspark

    Ha ha, using their own tiny brain and material logic, the atheists or “humanists” (a big joke) discard demons and ghosts as “paranormal” when millions in the world have experienced them, and it requires a higher (more subtle) dimensional science to explain their existence. the problem is people don’t like to believe that every living being is an eternal soul (a non-material spiritual “particle”). The soul is never born and never dies. It just keeps on changing bodies life after life. “You” are not this body but the non-material “soul”. The belief in existence of souls is not irrational. What came before the big bang (or say, singularity)? What is singularity exactly? It is physically unverifiable and mathematically undescribable.

    There is absolutely no evidence what happened before the big bang. Isn’t that irrational? People do not like to believe in God because they don’t want to believe there is sin and take responsibility for it (believe that you will be punished by God after death). But it is rational, just as people are punished by the Government (although the government is imperfect at times, God is not), people can never escape God’s laws. Defining what or who exactly is “God”, is beyond the scope of this small paragraph.

    The Law of Karma (As you sow shall you reap) is perfectly rational, and a necessary answer for the evil in the world. Aren’t we becoming selfish, greedy, merciless, envious etc. day by day? Haven’t wars been started because of completely non-religious causes? There are many false “religions”. But religion actually means “true religion”. We have to kill and wipe out ignorance in the heart. That is true religion. Not cause violence to people. Atheists misunderstand even true religionists. this post will not be liked by many atheists! Hare Krishna!

  • Kspark

    Dear Joseph, readmy reply above.

  • Kspark

    You, again? But I’ll tell you, alcohol / booze is most impure.

  • Kspark

    Ha ha, very difficult. Now let me try.

    What God says is good, is good, what God says is bad, is bad. Source: The Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam)

  • Kspark


    What God says is right, is right, what God says is wrong, is wrong.

    God=The Highest Authority, Absolute Good, The Absolute Truth, The Supreme Controller, The Cause of all causes with no other cause.

  • Kspark

    The reply is to LoudGuitr, not to Mary.

  • LoudGuitr

    You must be aware that I disagree. I believe that god is an ancient myth. Much of what “god” has ordained in the fiction of the bible is pure evil. People inherently, and through civil society and compassionate upbringing can have a highly developed sense of ethics and morality without the fantasies and superstitions that religion brings. I know you see it differently. Not much chance of us changing the other’s mind.

  • Kspark

    Simply giving me a “down” for your own solace isn’t going to make you right.

  • Kspark

    You must be aware that I am not a Christian. The Bible is not entirely incorrect although it is incomplete. There are “true” authorized religions other than Christianity. God is NOT a myth. You may believe that God is an ancient myth.

    The Vedas clearly define God first.

    “The Supreme Person, the Supreme Consciousness, is The Infinite Reservoir of Pleasure and the Supreme Controller of everything else. He is unchanging, eternal, possesses infinite knowledge, infinite Supreme bliss. He is the Cause (Origin) of all other causes (secondary origins) and He Himself has no other cause.”

    The Vedas are fact-books, not mythological books. What conception you have of religion, as you understand it, is not the actual conception. True “religion” is actually “science”. “Science”, I define as, “Knowing things as they are”. The methods may be many, not only physical. Things really exist and are the way they are, but physical methods may not detect them because they are outside the purview of these physical methods. Why can’t God be a Supreme being who has access to all multidimensional realms including all types of dimensions that exist. God may be outside of our time and space completely and yet have total control of and access to them. God is Absolutely non-material. God is Absolutely Good, not relatively good like in this material world of untold miseries.

    God is the Cause of all causes and has no cause Himself. God is totally outside our time and space. He is Absolutely independent. He is way too powerful and merciful, to care about some people considering Him as myth. The Vedic literature, and God (from whom they have originated from actually) are not creations of puny human beings. The Vedas are very, very, very difficult to understand for the most “rational” and intelligent of human beings. If God would have revealed Himself to each and everyone who demanded to “see” Him, then where is His complete independence? It requires a little bit of intelligence and introspection to understand these. Please see mine and others comments in “How Do Atheists Talk to Their Children About Death?”. The atheists have not been able to answer many of my questions.

    Here is a question to you: The giraffe’s heart is powerful enough to pump blood to the brain when it is standing high, but the giraffe’s brain does not burst due to an over surge of blood in its brain, when it bends down to drink water. There is a system of valves in its neck that regulate the blood flow when it bends down. Now how does “natural” selection “know” what to do? There is design in the neck, yet evolutionists avoid a designer. Isn’t that absurd? Who “selected”? If you say nature, doesn’t it mean nature has intelligence. Whose intelligence? In our experience only a person (or personality) has intelligence. Who decided that the valves must be present? (Don’t say that valves in internal combustion engines somehow evolved by natural selection. Someone selected them, right?

  • Kspark

    Lord Kelvin once wrote: “Overwhelming
    strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie around us … The
    atheistic idea is so nonsensical that I cannot put it into words.”
    We don’t bother with your opinions. But we put sane arguments.

  • LoudGuitr

    Well, our definitions of intelligence certainly differ. Have you ever convinced anyone that god’s plan to not reveal himself is proof of his existence? I don’t possess enough intelligence to understand that logic. I seem to do well in other area, however.

  • wmdkitty

    This is why you don’t drink the bong water.

  • Kspark

    No, that is not the “proof.” Logical arguments will never be able to prove the existence of God. It is up to the intelligence of the reader to decide, based on the arguments. Read Lord Kelvin’s statement below, then observe the workings of your own body, how intelligently things are constructed, observe things, animals etc. in nature, human behaviour, Introspect. “Why am I suffering even though I don’t want it. I do not wish to die, but death is there. Am I in a place which is actaually alien to me, and in reality I belong to a different place? Is there a God who is giving us our ‘just desserts’?” Ask sincerely to yourself. You may get answers sooner or later. I too had an atheist / agnostic mentality many, many years ago, but someone changed that with higher intelligence.

  • LoudGuitr

    Your superior intelligence has graced you with quite a dose of condescension and arrogance.

  • Kspark

    Ok, I may be a arrogant scoundrel, but do you really agree that theists have superior intelligence? Are you a theist or an atheist? If you are a theist, I am sorry for my arrogance. If you are an atheist, I have to be a little arrogant here, on this site. Atheistic thinking is baseless and totally nonsensical. So Lord Kelvin was also arrogant and condescending? Shall we have a gentle debate on a forum? Yes I have shown unnecessary arrogance, but I felt it was required. Sorry.

  • sadmann

    I don’t think he meant literal demons. People sometimes use these things called “figures of speech.”

  • Kspark

    There are demons, goblins, and ghosts. They are real. You will never get any evidence at all by using your so-called “scientific” (or shall we say scientism based) method. There are many other scientific methods, it just depends on what you define to be “scientific”. “Science” is knowing things the way they are actually, the methods may be many.

  • Kspark

    Atheists saying that there is no God, when God actually exists (has always been existing, is existing, will always exist), with so much evidence around you, is not arrogance?

    Just because I say something that you do not like, even though it may be true, is condescending?

  • Kspark

    Demons are not literal. They are real. They do not possess a gross material body that you can see with your physical eyes. They possess a subtle material body, which can be seen with subtle senses (you have them, but for now, these senses are deactivated). Gross or subtle, the soul that is encased within the material body, is non-material, eternal, unchanging and infinitesimal life-force or energy. You are the soul, not this material body. It is your body, the body is not you. Just like a man identifies himself with his Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce on the road, and sees other people as if they were a Suzuki, or a Hyundai, or a Chrysler.

    What do you think about what I said?