What about the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Of course there should be stricter gun laws and there should be no NRA. Of course there should be greater attention paid to troubled youngsters (and even oldsters) with a seriously antisocial attitude. But what there shouldn’t be—if only one could control it—is a mother like Nancy Lanza.
Da liegt der Hund begraben, as the German adage has it: there lies the buried dog, or, in the English equivalent, there’s the rub. In all this understandable uproar, there hasn’t been enough barking up the right tree (the dog image again!) at mother Nancy Lanza.
What exactly shooter Adam Lanza’s motive may have been we’ll never know for sure, but we could look more closely at Adam’s mother, without whom there would have been no Adam. She is the Eve who, however inadvertently, fed this Adam the apple, which in this case was the assault weapon AR-15.
Let us look at her more closely. What kind of woman keeps a deadly arsenal at home, a semiautomatic rifle and four handguns? Is this for the self-defense of a woman living alone, or with one unbalanced son, which proves more precarious? Either way, one handgun should be sufficient, unless perhaps the locale is Syria, Mexico or the Sudan, although even there more might be less useful. What good is even an armed innocent against a heavily armed killer with murder in his soul? But in peaceable, small-town Connecticut, a Texas congressman’s idea to turn high-school principals into gun-toting cowboys would seem—and be—absurd.
Yet not only did Nancy have such an arsenal, she was also proudly boasting about it in the bar where she was—suspiciously—a regular. A barfly in the ointment, indeed. And she used her weaponry at the shooting galleries she frequented, taking her troubled son along. Such establishments should provide clients with one relatively harmless gun, and legally ban all others.
In any case, why bring Adam with her? Did she think that that’s the way to make a nerd macho? As far as I can gather, Adam did little or no shooting there. But watching his mother at it must have given him some notions. He must have learned all too well how to use guns.
That Adam was weird was apparent to any number of youngsters and probably not-so-youngsters at school and elsewhere. It may have been made clear by his older brother’s not visiting for the last two years. Also by the father’s having divorced Nancy and subsequently staying away from any contact. What does it mean that the 28 killings elicited only such scant, routine condolences from him?
Significantly, the first person Adam killed with several shots in the face was his mother. Was it only because she happened to be there, blocking his path? He could easily have sneaked out of the house when she was not watching him. Adam, after all, was twenty, and not some kid under close parental surveillance. And that, too, is peculiar. Why, given his acknowledged smartness, was he not in college?
He did, to be sure, speak of moving to the West Coast for some higher education. But why so far away, making it an idea as inchoate, as unreal, as our death is to most of us? More interesting yet is the fact that Nancy declared her willingness, if Adam chose California, to pick up stakes and make a home for him there. Could he have felt smothered by excessive coddling?
But those grade-schoolers—surely they were not suffocating him with some unwelcome and draining dependency. Rather, I think, they represented to Adam the larger enemy, humanity. Moreover, he himself had gone to that school years ago, and maybe harbored unhappy memories. Ultimately, though, it was a place where he knew his way around, and where a sizable chunk of humanity was conveniently gathered nearby into an exposed target. A vulnerable kind of infant humanity, unlikely to fight back. The same for some women teachers, no obviously formidable adversaries. Still, if, say, a factory, or some other adult assemblage, had existed a few miles away, there is no telling that he wouldn’t have hatched the same plan.
Yet how come that Nancy was blind to the threat Adam represented? Well, is there anything blinder than blind mother love? Only stupidity, of which, too, Nancy may have had a healthy—or, rather, unhealthy—share. Little children, moreover, so dear to their parents, might have been a double target for Adam, a smart, and therefore unsuspected, lunatic, surely the most dangerous kind. His act was clearly excogitated rather than spontaneous. And doesn’t the Bible warn us about the danger to little children ever since Herod’s time?
I repeat, arming teachers won’t do. Perhaps better arm all politicians who support guns for everyone, and have a go at them. Is the danger that the pols are underarmed, hence the murder of our consul in Benghazi, a highly well-meaning diplomat? No, the danger is both inadequate mental health and gun laws (if those aren’t just one and the same problem). And don’t think for a moment that either Bloomberg or Obama or 28 dead can seriously change the situation.
No doubt our Constitution must bear some inadvertent blame. What is that business about the right to bear arms? Protection against whom? Indians? Brits? Hardly threats any more. But certainly not against the Adam Lanzas, who always shoot first, unexpectedly and lethally.