The shooter

The London Daily Mail has published a pretty extensive profile of Adam Lanza, who killed the 7 adults and 20 elementary school children in Newton, Connecticut.  He was a loner Goth from a a very affluent family, split by divorce, which seems to have pushed the already troubled 20-year-old over the edge.   His abandoned mother turned into a survivalist.  He took the guns from her and made her his first victim.  See  Adam Lanza: How classmates remember the ‘genius’ who turned heartless killer | Mail Online.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    The pictures of the man and people’s recollections don’t seem to match. It is almost like they are morphing him into their image of the type of mad man who they think would gun down people.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    The pictures of the man and people’s recollections don’t seem to match. It is almost like they are morphing him into their image of the type of mad man who they think would gun down people.

  • Kyralessa

    Given the number of Facebook links I’ve seen today to an article titled “I am Adam Lanza’s mother”, apparently one can enter a school and easily kill more than two dozen people armed only with mental illness.

    We seem to be a nation determined to find any cause except the most obvious one.

  • Kyralessa

    Given the number of Facebook links I’ve seen today to an article titled “I am Adam Lanza’s mother”, apparently one can enter a school and easily kill more than two dozen people armed only with mental illness.

    We seem to be a nation determined to find any cause except the most obvious one.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kyralessa – did you read the article?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kyralessa – did you read the article?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Also, to add to the silliness, I am seeing more than a few people linking to conspiracy nut articles and videos calling this a “false flag” operation being perpetrated by shadowy operatives whose objective is to garner popular support for disarming the citizenry.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Also, to add to the silliness, I am seeing more than a few people linking to conspiracy nut articles and videos calling this a “false flag” operation being perpetrated by shadowy operatives whose objective is to garner popular support for disarming the citizenry.

  • Kyralessa

    @3,

    Yes, I did. I feel for the mother in that article, but other than “raising awareness” about mentally ill children, I don’t see what it has to do with the present case. Without readily available guns, he couldn’t have done what he did.

  • Kyralessa

    @3,

    Yes, I did. I feel for the mother in that article, but other than “raising awareness” about mentally ill children, I don’t see what it has to do with the present case. Without readily available guns, he couldn’t have done what he did.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    No mention of the shooter at all, no photos, no interviews with their family members or friends, etc. should be the way the media handles these situations.

    Cut off the notoriety, and you will dramatically cut down these one-upmanship type multiple murder scenarios.

    I know…it’s impossible given our open society. But that is what needs to happen.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    No mention of the shooter at all, no photos, no interviews with their family members or friends, etc. should be the way the media handles these situations.

    Cut off the notoriety, and you will dramatically cut down these one-upmanship type multiple murder scenarios.

    I know…it’s impossible given our open society. But that is what needs to happen.

  • DonS

    I agree with you, Steve @ 6, but it will never happen. There is an insatiable, and understandable, desire to know what kind of monster could look in the eyes of a frightened-to-death 6 year old and then shoot him/her multiple times.

    As I said on another thread, this is a time for grieving and reflection. Policy and politics should come later. We who believe know that this world is full of sorrow and evil. From time to time, these kinds of events will occur. How do we respond to them? How do we reach reflective hearts, during this time of national sorrow, with the Hope of Christ? Political overreaction, in the heat of emotion, under the utterly false notion that we can “solve” this problem with more government, is not a good way to make law. We saw that with the passage of the Patriot Act.

  • DonS

    I agree with you, Steve @ 6, but it will never happen. There is an insatiable, and understandable, desire to know what kind of monster could look in the eyes of a frightened-to-death 6 year old and then shoot him/her multiple times.

    As I said on another thread, this is a time for grieving and reflection. Policy and politics should come later. We who believe know that this world is full of sorrow and evil. From time to time, these kinds of events will occur. How do we respond to them? How do we reach reflective hearts, during this time of national sorrow, with the Hope of Christ? Political overreaction, in the heat of emotion, under the utterly false notion that we can “solve” this problem with more government, is not a good way to make law. We saw that with the passage of the Patriot Act.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m guessing power is the key to understanding Adam Lanza. As a geeky loner, he probably felt powerless in school, where popularity is power. His parents’ divorce probably contributed to his sense of powerlessness in life (and he probably blamed his mother for the divorce). The violent video games he played were power fantasies. Gun fantasies are power fantasies, and gun ownership is a real form of power. Finally, little children are powerless, and the easiest people over which to exercise the ultimate power of life and death.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m guessing power is the key to understanding Adam Lanza. As a geeky loner, he probably felt powerless in school, where popularity is power. His parents’ divorce probably contributed to his sense of powerlessness in life (and he probably blamed his mother for the divorce). The violent video games he played were power fantasies. Gun fantasies are power fantasies, and gun ownership is a real form of power. Finally, little children are powerless, and the easiest people over which to exercise the ultimate power of life and death.

  • Hanni

    There is a very interesting article in the New York Times magazine section on May 13, 2012, called “Can-a-9-year-old be a psychopath?” It’s quite lengthy but describes the efforts being made to diagnose and treat early, sociopathy/psychopathy in children. Much effort is being made, describing camps, schools, doctors specializing. It is quite pitiful what the parents and the children go throughk. But it is something that society must do. I don’t know how to post the link so you can click on it, but if someone wants to, that would be appreciated. All will benefit after our discussion of “evil’”, “mental illness.” How do children get this way? Is there a good prognosis? Article tries to help, if you cant find it, just put in the search box ===child psycopath. The writer has another too, on early diagnosis.

  • Hanni

    There is a very interesting article in the New York Times magazine section on May 13, 2012, called “Can-a-9-year-old be a psychopath?” It’s quite lengthy but describes the efforts being made to diagnose and treat early, sociopathy/psychopathy in children. Much effort is being made, describing camps, schools, doctors specializing. It is quite pitiful what the parents and the children go throughk. But it is something that society must do. I don’t know how to post the link so you can click on it, but if someone wants to, that would be appreciated. All will benefit after our discussion of “evil’”, “mental illness.” How do children get this way? Is there a good prognosis? Article tries to help, if you cant find it, just put in the search box ===child psycopath. The writer has another too, on early diagnosis.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Dr. Veith, why did you pick that article to link to? Don’t you find it a bit … sensationalist?

    Crazed killer Adam Lanza was a ‘ticking time bomb’ who suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and was painfully shy and awkward, former classmates said yesterday.

    Last night, a troubling portrait began to emerge of the ‘Goth’ loner, who dressed all in black and was obsessed with video games.

    Others say Lanza used to be a mild-mannered student in high school, making the honor roll, and living with his mother, Nancy Lanza, who in turn loved playing dice games and decorating their upscale home for the holidays.

    I love that third paragraph. “Or maybe we’re completely making crap up and lazily resorting to very tired media cliches of school shooters.” I’d blame this on the particular quirks of British media, but you can find it over here, too, unfortunately.

    So one person says, after the fact, “No one is surprised. He always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that,” and yet “class president Ben Federman is like the rest of his classmates – he can barely remember Adam Lanza.” So they can hardly remember the guy, but everyone suspected he was the mass-murdering type. Gotcha.

    Honestly, people, this is crap journalism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Dr. Veith, why did you pick that article to link to? Don’t you find it a bit … sensationalist?

    Crazed killer Adam Lanza was a ‘ticking time bomb’ who suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and was painfully shy and awkward, former classmates said yesterday.

    Last night, a troubling portrait began to emerge of the ‘Goth’ loner, who dressed all in black and was obsessed with video games.

    Others say Lanza used to be a mild-mannered student in high school, making the honor roll, and living with his mother, Nancy Lanza, who in turn loved playing dice games and decorating their upscale home for the holidays.

    I love that third paragraph. “Or maybe we’re completely making crap up and lazily resorting to very tired media cliches of school shooters.” I’d blame this on the particular quirks of British media, but you can find it over here, too, unfortunately.

    So one person says, after the fact, “No one is surprised. He always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that,” and yet “class president Ben Federman is like the rest of his classmates – he can barely remember Adam Lanza.” So they can hardly remember the guy, but everyone suspected he was the mass-murdering type. Gotcha.

    Honestly, people, this is crap journalism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Steve (@6), you blame the media, but (as so often happens with right-wing media criticism), you seem to completely ignore why the media not only mentions the shooter but delves into his life.

    As Don mentions (@7), people want to know this stuff. The main reason we do is because we want to convince ourselves that it’s something unique to him, something that won’t happen to us — oh, he was a goth, or his parents got divorced, or video games, or rap, or drugs, or whatever. Or we want to look for clues on how we can live our life so as to avoid these things. There’s a significant undercurrent of legalism in all this, an attempt to ensure that the people we know are Bad People now were just as easily identified as Bad People before.

    Cut off the notoriety, and you will dramatically cut down these one-upmanship type multiple murder scenarios.

    Oh, so the reason other countries don’t have the same level of mass murders as us is because their media simply doesn’t report the identity of any mass-murderers they have? It’s just a media thing, then?

    Everyone loves to work in their hobbyhorse as the Big Solution.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Steve (@6), you blame the media, but (as so often happens with right-wing media criticism), you seem to completely ignore why the media not only mentions the shooter but delves into his life.

    As Don mentions (@7), people want to know this stuff. The main reason we do is because we want to convince ourselves that it’s something unique to him, something that won’t happen to us — oh, he was a goth, or his parents got divorced, or video games, or rap, or drugs, or whatever. Or we want to look for clues on how we can live our life so as to avoid these things. There’s a significant undercurrent of legalism in all this, an attempt to ensure that the people we know are Bad People now were just as easily identified as Bad People before.

    Cut off the notoriety, and you will dramatically cut down these one-upmanship type multiple murder scenarios.

    Oh, so the reason other countries don’t have the same level of mass murders as us is because their media simply doesn’t report the identity of any mass-murderers they have? It’s just a media thing, then?

    Everyone loves to work in their hobbyhorse as the Big Solution.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Also, if “notoriety” is the main thing motivating these mass-murderers, then explain how that works.

    Because, to me, the kind of person who commits suicide doesn’t really appear to be clamoring for fame/infamy, which is something one necessarily only enjoys while alive.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Also, if “notoriety” is the main thing motivating these mass-murderers, then explain how that works.

    Because, to me, the kind of person who commits suicide doesn’t really appear to be clamoring for fame/infamy, which is something one necessarily only enjoys while alive.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 12 – I suppose the most troubling thing about this incident, is not so much that the perpetrator committed suicide, but that in his desire to die, he made the decision that others deserved to die as well. People with mental illness commit suicide sadly every day, but most of them have no intention of harming anyone else.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 12 – I suppose the most troubling thing about this incident, is not so much that the perpetrator committed suicide, but that in his desire to die, he made the decision that others deserved to die as well. People with mental illness commit suicide sadly every day, but most of them have no intention of harming anyone else.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    The scientist/counselor part of me would really love to get inside the heads of these people to figure out what makes them tick and do such tragic acts. Sadly, because they continue to be “successful” we really won’t figure it out and the above article is living proof of why and so are the subsequent comments on this thread and elsewhere.

    As tODD noted each person keeps wanting to fit into their paradigm. Even I am some what guilty, I wonder if we are not witnessing something similar to King Herod’s command to round up people and have the killed when he died so that there would be mourning in the land. It is only a hypothesis and one that I can’t test, to be honest don’t want the chance to test it as it would mean more killings. But it is also why I am not advocating any policy changes.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    The scientist/counselor part of me would really love to get inside the heads of these people to figure out what makes them tick and do such tragic acts. Sadly, because they continue to be “successful” we really won’t figure it out and the above article is living proof of why and so are the subsequent comments on this thread and elsewhere.

    As tODD noted each person keeps wanting to fit into their paradigm. Even I am some what guilty, I wonder if we are not witnessing something similar to King Herod’s command to round up people and have the killed when he died so that there would be mourning in the land. It is only a hypothesis and one that I can’t test, to be honest don’t want the chance to test it as it would mean more killings. But it is also why I am not advocating any policy changes.

  • Jon

    tODD is in a bit of a mood today. I hope somebody takes away his guns.

  • Jon

    tODD is in a bit of a mood today. I hope somebody takes away his guns.

  • Michael B.

    @Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    “The scientist/counselor part of me would really love to get inside the heads of these people to figure out what makes them tick and do such tragic acts. ”

    I was thinking the same thing. I wonder if we are even close to having the knowledge of mental health to even figure this out?

  • Michael B.

    @Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    “The scientist/counselor part of me would really love to get inside the heads of these people to figure out what makes them tick and do such tragic acts. ”

    I was thinking the same thing. I wonder if we are even close to having the knowledge of mental health to even figure this out?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Here’s the problem.

    If you’re not praying with the Advent Church, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus;” if you’re not looking into your own black heart in repentance; if you’re not praying the peace and mercy of Christ’s resurrection for the families of those who died today, you’re just missing the point. Dear God, how stupid and ignorant can we be? Repent, hear the Word of the Savior who absorbed all violence into His own wounds, and pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Anything else is naive, idiotic, or worse.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Here’s the problem.

    If you’re not praying with the Advent Church, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus;” if you’re not looking into your own black heart in repentance; if you’re not praying the peace and mercy of Christ’s resurrection for the families of those who died today, you’re just missing the point. Dear God, how stupid and ignorant can we be? Repent, hear the Word of the Savior who absorbed all violence into His own wounds, and pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Anything else is naive, idiotic, or worse.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Mike (@17), so, according to the article you linked to, it’s “naive, idiotic, or worse” to believe that “a new law” will fix things when it comes to “the evil that is in all our hearts”.

    I assume you believe that when it comes to gun violence. The question is: do you believe that when it comes to abortion?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com tODD

    Mike (@17), so, according to the article you linked to, it’s “naive, idiotic, or worse” to believe that “a new law” will fix things when it comes to “the evil that is in all our hearts”.

    I assume you believe that when it comes to gun violence. The question is: do you believe that when it comes to abortion?

  • Lou G.

    Tom Hering, #8 – Bingo. Excellent observations.
    I agree with you 100%.
    I also found it very interesting that the descriptions of the Adam Lanza in the interviews didn’t match the pictures of him AT ALL. Perhaps his “goth” look was something that he adapted later? In any case, he certainly doesn’t fit the ‘goth’ model in any true sense of that culture.

    Did anyone else notice the father’s role here? Wealthy corporate exec. Pulling down a million a year in salary. Divorced his mother to remarry… Certainly, if any social commentary is to be made, the father’s role MUST come into play at some point. In which case, I can’t help but wonder whether the absence of the father played any significant role in any of these other shootings (particularly when the shooter was younger).

  • Lou G.

    Tom Hering, #8 – Bingo. Excellent observations.
    I agree with you 100%.
    I also found it very interesting that the descriptions of the Adam Lanza in the interviews didn’t match the pictures of him AT ALL. Perhaps his “goth” look was something that he adapted later? In any case, he certainly doesn’t fit the ‘goth’ model in any true sense of that culture.

    Did anyone else notice the father’s role here? Wealthy corporate exec. Pulling down a million a year in salary. Divorced his mother to remarry… Certainly, if any social commentary is to be made, the father’s role MUST come into play at some point. In which case, I can’t help but wonder whether the absence of the father played any significant role in any of these other shootings (particularly when the shooter was younger).


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