November 28th, 2013

Lessons from the Sandy Hook report

There don’t seem to be any, except that some acts of evil are inscrutable and beyond our understanding.

Many of the assumptions people had about Adam Lanza and his murders are undermined by the official report, according to Jacob Sullum at Reason. For example, Lanza had played a lot of video games but only some were violent. He had Asperger’s, but had never threatened or even hinted at a desire to harm people, and Asperger’s is not linked to an increased incidence of violence anyway. His mother had the guns legally, but banning them would not have prevented his acts or even slowed him down, because his rate of fire was not particularly fast.

Lanza was from a family of divorce, but many such killers are not (for example, Columbine’s dark duo were from intact families) and divorce is common although mass murderers are not. Lanza did consider Columbine an inspiration, but that’s more a symptom of his troubles than a cause.

Were antidepressants a factor? The report indicates there were no drugs in Lanza’s system, and he was not on any drugs regularly, antidepressants or otherwise:

Reportedly the shooter did not drink alcohol, take drugs, prescription or otherwise, and hated the thought of doing any of those things.

Although I haven’t read the report itself, except for a tiny bit (it’s very long), I came across two paragraphs that contain quite a bit of information:

The mother did the shooter’s laundry on a daily basis as the shooter often changed clothing during the day. She was not allowed in the shooter’s room, however, even to clean. No one was allowed in his room.

The shooter disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays. He would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree. The mother explained it by saying that shooter had no emotions or feelings.

Note the phrase “would not allow.” Lanza was twenty years old and lived in his mother’s home, but it seems he dictated quite a bit and his mother acquiesced in order to keep the peace. She may even have done this on the advice of a health professional.

But it’s not at all clear that any other approach Lanza’s mother could have adopted towards him would have helped or changed a thing. I offer as evidence that last sentence in the above quote: “shooter had no emotions or feelings.” Emotions and feelings cannot be taught if a person lacks them, nor are their absence the result of anything a parent has done or not done. If Lanza was a sociopath/psycopath—and it appears he probably was—and secretly inclined to violence but giving no indication of it, it is unlikely that anything could have been done to prevent his crime.

13 Responses to “Lessons from the Sandy Hook report”

  1. Steve Says:

    It would be so much easier if we could predict outcomes, wouldn’t it? I still wonder if there weren’t some signs. Wasn’t it reported that his mother was planning to have him committed? Wasn’t there speculation that he lashed out in response?

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    The left seems to think this somehow could’ve been prevented.
    Maybe it’s another aspect of the central-planner mentality: they can’t understand that insanity happens whether you like it or not.
    Or, to quote a movie “screws fall out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place.”
    It seems Adam Lanza had a screw loose.

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    You could get hit by a meteor, killed by an exploding gasoline tanker, etc. From time to time, a human being simply is not all there. And you get killed that way.
    Most of these guys are not dummies and if there were a way to make guns just disappear, they could certainly try a bomb. The Columbine guys tried, but it didn’t blow, fortunately.

  4. Ymarsakar Says:

    If Ayers can try to build a bomb to blow himself up, so can others.

  5. Gringo Says:

    Another lesson to draw from the Sandy Hook report is that it is usually foolish to jump to conclusions regarding something in the news. Recall the Duke lacrosse team alleged rape. Or the Census Bureau worker in Kentucky whom many believed had been lynched by some anti-government types. It was later concluded he had hung himself.

    How many of the pundits who make foolish over the top conclusions before all the facts are in, later acknowledge their mistakes?

    Very, very few.

  6. Richard Aubrey Says:


    Damn’ few.
    But the question of “mistakes” is not closed. How many of them actually succeeded in making the case they wish to make? As you can tell, the mistakes, so to speak, are still out there. The CW about Trayvon Martin is still out there and has come back like a wet blanket, smothering the reality.
    Instapundit recently referenced a piece telling us that Crystal Mangum got 160 newspaper stories about the fake rape case and three about her murder conviction.
    IMO, the best we can do is note which are the most egregious and ignore them, mentioning their “mistakes” to those of our friends and acquaintances who don’t need to believe the mistakes.
    Ex. Got a relation who, when I mentioned that doctors are going to be retiring early because they can’t make any money under Ocare, said, “That’s the problem. We’re greedy.” I said she had done the right thing, calling the docs a bad name, but did she have a plan to get them to continue practicing.
    No point in discussing any “mistakes” with her.
    But there are others who might be induced to look at such things.
    Gradually, reduce tne influence of the mistake makers.

  7. lacune Says:

    Exactly, in most of these cases where left-wing pundits rush to mold a story to The Narrative, their take, which gets repeated over and over by their ilk in the media, becomes the truth to the majority of people.

    Thus, we have the average American believing:

    1) Lanza was using fully automatic machine gun his mom bought for him at a gun show.

    2) George Zimmerman disobeyed the police and actively “stalked” Trayvon with his gun drawn.

    3) The Duke lacrosse players were guilty but got off on a technicality thanks to their high-priced lawyers.

    …and so forth

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    I can’t quite consider this report absolutely true. There’s no way to verify it. Have any of us tested the corpse for drugs?

    No? So no cross references on sources. Not a double. Not a triple.

  9. neo-neocon Says:


    All the official reports (autopsy, etc.) were that there were no drugs in Lanza’s system. See this:

    The state has released the full toxicology report on Sandy Hook school shooter Adam Lanza, confirming that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he shot and killed 20 first-graders and six women on Dec. 14.

    The Courant first reported in May that Lanza had no drugs or alcohol in his system. The report provides some additional details, including that Lanza tested negative for marijuana and had part of his brain taken to UConn for genetic testing.

    “There is no chemical reason or apparent medical reason to explain [Lanza's] actions,” former chief state’s medical examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II said.

    Lanza’s blood was tested for hundreds of drugs, divided into six categories — alcohol, acidic, neutral drugs, basic drugs, cocaine, opiates and oxycodone. The test covers legal drugs, from aspirin to anti-depressants such as Paxil or Zoloft, and illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

    The marijuana test was conducted by NMS Labs of Willow Grove, Pa., and also was negative, the report said. Carver, who was medical examiner at the time of the shooting, also ran a screening test for amphetamines, which also came back negative, the report said.

    A toxicology report is usually not a public document, but Carver said that in this case, Adam Lanza’s father, Peter Lanza, agreed to allow the report to be released after a meeting between Carver, Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky and a lawyer representing Peter Lanza.

    The full report itself was issued by the state’s attorney for the judicial district of Danbury.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    I have not met a single one of those people named there, Neo, nor has any other source that I believe to exist, validates such existences or actions.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Epistemology, the science/theory of what makes knowledge true and how people know what they know, would explain why I take this position.

    I’ve seen a lot of people buy into the things various people sell, such as basing their judgment of Sarah Palin on 2 manufactured and edited interviews. At the time, nobody (except the perps) knew how it was setup and why. But I don’t normally buy into what people are selling me, especially if it is something important to life or politics.

    If people want to assume the sun will or won’t come up tomorrow, there’s interesting benefits to both sides. But in this case, the Lanza “report” has led to certain conclusions that people are selling. They are making judgments, using the report as “evidence” of a truth or truism. Just as many Republicans and Democrats used the interviews of Sarah Palin as evidence for their judgment of her capabilities or future competence.

    I hold the same position now as I do against such things in the past. I don’t buy into whatever “conclusions” people try to sell me, until I’ve confirmed the situation for myself, using my sources, my resources, my personal experience, or my reasoning.

    There are many things in life that people have to assume, for convenience. But while I may do such things too, I don’t consider that “knowledge” or knowing something.

  12. Beverly Says:

    By the way, anyone else notice that the so-called “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” are actually mayors against LEGAL guns?

    Just sayin’.

  13. Jay Says:

    It COULD have been prevented, if the teachers had any way of fighting back.

    It would have ended pretty damn quickly if a few teachers were armed.

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