Sandy Hook: A Profile

News continues to grab the front pages nearly 75 days after the horrible tragedy that took the lives of so many innocent children and the brave educators who stepped in front of them on that as fateful mid-December morning as tried to intervene while Adam Lanza diabolically marched through Sandy Hook Elementary wantonly killing his victims .

Today Vice-President Joe Biden was just a few miles from Newtown, Connecticut at Western Connecticut State University rallying for support of gun control proposals along with community, education and police leaders. Biden said Sandy Hook fundamentally altered the debate over gun control and “there will be a moral price paid for inaction”. He went on to call for a series of proposals to include universal background checks for gun owners, a ban on military-style weapons and a limit on the size of high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic pistols or long arms.

The debate rages on between those that covet the Second Amendment, Right to Bear Arms and those that want stricter and stricter gun control in America.

We posited our position in a recent Blog asking for mandatory background checks on both gun buyers and the guns themselves. This would be accomplished through a dual background check during the course of any gun transaction whether the gun is purchased at a sporting goods store, a gun dealer, a convention hall gun show or over the Internet. Any and ALL gun transactions would be required to go through a licensed gun dealer or what is officially called a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). This would significantly reduce the chances of guns from getting into the hands of criminals or the mentally unfit as well as serving as a screening process and eliminating the Black Market wherein guns that may have been stolen end up being bought and sold. Penalties for a gun transaction without the requisite process and checks on both the buyer and the weapon would be a felony. We know this is not going to keep guns out of the hand of the “bad guys” but we believe it represents a relatively fair and simple solution to the commerce of guns and it allows good upstanding Americans to own weapons to protect themselves and their families without infringing on their Second Amendment rights.

Interesting that the latest issue in the news this week surrounding Sandy Hook is that the Connecticut State Police released a statement that their ongoing post-shooting investigation indicates that Adam Lanza may have been emulating the actions of another mass shooter, Anders Behring Breivik, of Norway whose senseless rampage with a car bomb and high powered assault rifle took the lives of 77 including boy scout campers back in the summer of 2011.

This information most likely is coming from an analysis of documents, emails, writings, diaries and whatever else State Police investigators and analysts are combing through to somehow “connect the dots” and try to determine what motivated a young man to bring himself to commit such bloodshed.

The final analysis which is probably still months away will include causes and motivations providing insight to not only law-enforcement but educators and mental health professional throughout the world in their effort to somehow prevent the next Sandy Hook … or Columbine or …. Virginia Tech.

As a law-enforcement professional for 35 years with significant exposure to the psychology of criminal profiling and what makes criminals “tick”, I have my own theories regarding Adam Lanza and what brought him to commit the acts of horror that he did. My opinion is not based on any specific evidence emanating from that crime scene in Newtown, Connecticut but based merely on what I have read and learned in open sources about Adam Lanza, his background, state of mind and his relationship with his mother.

As a graduate student years ago, I studied the effects of media violence on children and young adults with an eye toward determining if a significant exposure of media violence, whether in the form of television, movies, books, comic books or video games, caused young people to be more prone to violence themselves. After exhaustive research and an analysis of anecdotal evidence collected by professionals around the world, I came up with a fairly conclusive position. Significant exposure to violence has little or no impact on young people who are mentally healthy, grounded and have an instilled positive set of values regarding what is right and what is wrong. The latter set of values are normally absorbed by children with grow up in a healthy home environment fostered by positive modeling parents. It is those children or adolescents that are mentally unstable, lacking a set of positive values and positive role models to emulate that are most likely to be effected by media violence and hence, more likely to manifest and exhibit such violent behavior.

Adam Lanza fit in the latter category and a very dangerous set of circumstances coalesced resulting in his almost incomprehensible rampage of violence. Here was young man beset with mental issues, he sat in a darkened room for hours on end watching and playing video games where violence is reinforced and where one scores the highest by killing and drawing as much bloodshed as possible. Adam was also a young man whose mother maintained a collection of guns to include a Browning Bushmaster assault rifle that shoots .223 mm rounds. Adam was not only exposed to these weapons but at his mother’s behest, shot, trained and knew how to the handle these weapons.

It’s been reported that Adams mother had filed paperwork and had begun the process of having Adam institutionalized and moved from their residence. This process may have been the beginning of what set Adam off. A young man that shoots his mother in the face repeatedly with a high-powered rifle is overflowing with malice and vengeance. I can’t help but speculate if Adams mother didn’t berate him at times and compare him to the “nice, smart, normal” children at Sandy Hook where it has been reported she did volunteer work.

Did this combination of variables coalesce and create the “perfect storm” resulting in the carnage that will be forever linked to Adam Lanza: a young man with mental challenges, exposed to hours of media violence, trained and familiar with unlocked and readily available high-powered assault weapons, on the verge of being institutionalized by his mother who may have told Adam, “why can’t you be like the nice children at Sandy Hook Elementary”.

We’ll never fully know, Why, but without a doubt, there are lessons to be learned from Sandy Hook; lessons about the effects of media violence on a particular and vulnerable segment of our population and how guns in the hands of a certain unstable or criminal elements of our society are the guns that bring about wanton and senseless violence.

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