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Analysis

Who really owned the guns in the Lanza home?

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I detailed in a previous post how we know that the unnamed interview subject who told the FBI that Adam Lanza owned the Sandy Hook murder weapon was, in fact, his brother Ryan. This is the second part of that analysis. (quick note for frequent visitors to the blog: I didn’t intend for a seven-month delay between parts. Attempts to write this post gradually turned into a draft of the book, before I came back around and edited it back to this smaller chunk.)

Nancy and Adam

Much has been made of Nancy Lanza’s responsibility for what happened at Sandy Hook. Depending on whom you ask, she is either a victim, a tragically negligent mother, or the person most responsible for what happened, having provided lethal weaponry to a sick maniac.

All of the weapons and ammunition used in the massacre were purchased by Nancy, after all. She was responsible for bringing the weapons into the home, and thus responsible for taking reasonable measures to keep them away from anyone dangerous.

I’ve read hundreds of commentaries examining Nancy’s potential culpability in what happened at Sandy Hook, and for the sake of argument I’ll boil them down to five proposed scenarios of gun safety in the Lanza home, representing five increasing degrees of guilt on Nancy’s part:

  1. The guns were Nancy’s property alone, and she took proper steps to ensure that only she would ever have access to them. Adam bypassed these measures, but no one could have foreseen the lengths he went to to do so.
  2. The guns were Nancy’s property alone, and she took steps to ensure that only she would have access, but these measures were so feeble and ineffective that she was negligent in securing her weapons.
  3. Nancy bought the guns for herself, but she took absolutely no practical measures to restrict access to them within the home. She expected that Adam would have access to them, and thus considered him a responsible adult.
  4. Nancy bought the guns for Adam. They were his property in everything but registration. He thus must have requested of Nancy their purchase, and Nancy (incorrectly) decided that this was a safe arrangement for herself and others.
  5. Nancy bought the guns for Adam, knowing that this was dangerous, and took the chance anyway.

(a sixth degree of responsibility would be if Nancy was aware of Adam’s specific intention to assault Sandy Hook and she thus participated in the plot, but I don’t think any reasonable person has suggested this state of affairs)

The most commonly held assumption, from what I have seen, seems to be #2, the corresponding narrative being that Nancy was a firearms enthusiast, had to keep her guns somewhere, and that her mistake was that “somewhere” happened to be the same home that she shared with her mentally ill son.

A basic familiarity with the case shows that this is not a defensible assumption. #3, at the very least, is indisputably true. Indeed, a closer investigation, I will here argue, reveals that any reasonable appraisal of the facts will place reality at least at #4, even leaning toward #5.

An argument can surely be made that Nancy tried her best to get help for Adam. The evidence is more than ample: shuffling him from school to school, to homeschool and then to college, from one therapist to another, and with her home library stuffed with tabbed-out books on the treatment of young adults with Aspergers, Anxiety, and OCD. Planning to move across the country with him, at great expense, knowing he wasn’t even willing to leave his room on most days. Whether or not you agree with Nancy Lanza’s methods, it’s apparent she took great effort to protect her son from the world.

She could have done more to protect the world from her son.

Continue Reading @ Sandy Hook Lighthouse
Reed Coleman | September 1, 2014

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