The Newtown police have promised full elucidation of the Adam Lanza case: what happened and why – most importantly why.
Nonetheless they are cautious and slow in releasing information about their findings. Considering the risk of emulation, this is a wise decision. That said, we should not expect to gain any major insight from the inquiry. Adam Lanza was a troubled lonely young man with learning disabilities and poor social interaction skills, living alone with his estranged mother in a huge house with computers and guns. Each of these characteristics is an indicator of instability, in conjunction their impact was probably greater – and still, it would be wrong to consider them as conclusive evidence. No doubt, something triggered the attack. That could be anything and is probably not that important.
There will always be families and individuals, young and old, facing mental problems; and there are many who have faced a psychological problem at some point in their lives. It is, therefore, very important to avoid further stigmatization of mental illness as a result of this horrific incident. By contrast, it is all the more important to intensify the debate regarding gun control.
Crimes like those at Newtown and Aurora in the United States, or Winnenden in Europe, demonstrate the awful consequences of easy access to guns. When a person loses control and is at risk of becoming violent, whether s/he does or not, and with what result, depends on the availability of means for doing harm – to oneself and others. And even though one can also do harm with a knife alone or with a baseball club, the latter are less efficient weapons. This is simply a fact.
Ours is a society which implements smoking bans and debates the introduction of rules regarding the amount of sugar in soft drinks in order to promote public health and counteract the obesity epidemic among children. This same society is comparatively lax regarding ownership of weapons despite the scientific evidence that the incidence and prevalence of violence is strongly associated with the availability of firearms.
There is no reason why individuals should own guns and keep these at their homes. The problem really with the discussion about gun control is that this is still a matter of debate.
The sad fact will remain that had Adam Lanza’s mother not owned any guns and kept them at home, it would have been so much more difficult for the young man to go on a shooting spree, killing twenty young children and seven adults, including his mother, before turning the rifle against himself. Death is always absurd, but the Newtown deaths were doubly so and tragically unnecessary.