Newtown, Connecticut. Was Nancy Lanza to blame for the massacre in this town? Newtown will never be the same. Residents have been living upside down since the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, when Adam Lanza blasted the front doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School and set about shooting to kill. Twenty children and six adults suffered brutal deaths. Adam Lanza committed suicide when he turned the gun on himself. But before Lanza went to Sandy Hook Elementary School, he shot his mother, Nancy, in her bed. We will never know what she would have said about her son’s horrific actions, but can Nancy Lanza be blamed for the Newtown massacre?
With the upcoming Dec. 10 release of a book relating the Newtown events, “Newtown: An American Tragedy,” an excerpt is now available, giving us a peek into Adam Lanza and his mother’s daily life. They lived together in the family home, rarely interacting in the year 2012, when Nancy essentially abandoned hope of reaching her son and began taking trips and leaving Adam home alone. Adam became increasingly antisocial, retreating even further into video games, obsessing about the military and guns and poring over graphic photos of dead and mutilated children. We can ask, did Nancy Lanza not become concerned about seeing these graphic images in Adam’s bedroom when she went in to investigate one day because she became concerned about his behavior?
Nancy seemed to have given up on Adam, thinking he was beyond reach. We can wonder how a mother can give up on her son, especially when he lives under her roof. Clearly she had given much of herself to help her son. Was she so desperate to connect with him that she would allow a range of guns to be kept in Adam’s bedroom? When she went into his bedroom, then she saw the black garbage bags covering his windows. Did this not perturb her enough to at least seek medical counsel? And especially with all of those guns? And his military garb? And Adam’s refusal to leave his home? All of this added up to a desperate need for medical or psychiatric intervention. It’s easy to say what Nancy Lanza should have done. Clearly, she was permissive where her son was concerned. This excerpt delves further into her rationale behind leaving Adam alone during the holidays:
She somehow thought her absence might make Adam more independent. When a close friend asked if she was concerned about her son spending so much time alone, Nancy said she wasn’t worried. Adam needed more solitary time than most people. ‘He’s fine,’ she said reassuringly. ‘Just so long as he has his computer and his video games, he can keep himself occupied.
It seems Nancy may have believed her permissiveness with her son was meant to show she trusted him. She obviously felt safe in the home, even with the guns. Going to the firing range to shoot guns with Adam was her way of connecting with him but tragically, it wound up being her undoing.
Was Nancy Lanza to blame for the Newtown massacre? Not entirely. To solely blame her would be to ignore the impact the school and medical systems had on Adam Lanza. He was failed by everyone but there are people resistant to any kind of medical or psychiatric intervention. Mental illness is still not fully understood.
By Juana Poareo