The Question is Not Just What, But Why? In the Sandy Hook Shooting

When I first heard of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn last Friday, my first thought after the shock and horror registered, was “Why?”

Why on earth would someone shoot a mass of children. Babies. Innocents.

Then I spent the rest of the day tearing up and imagining the excruciating pain the parents would be feeling.

Schools are supposed to be safe. Elementary schools are filled with chatter and love; paint and crayons; magic and wonderment. The worst possible fear I ever had about school was predators. But not guns. Never guns.

Until now.

Monday morning when I dropped Annika off, I acted like everything was normal. I didn’t tell Annika what happened. She doesn’t need anything else to worry about. I wondered if I made the right decision. She could potentially hear something at school from an older child or a sibling of an older child. But I thought it was worth the risk. If she comes home asking questions I’ll be honest and tell her I didn’t want her to worry because it was such an unlikely scenario at her school.

Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on the shooting, however, my thoughts are starting to move in the direction of the shooter’s family. Adam Lanza, however angry everyone is at him for doing what he did (and with good reason) I can’t help but feel sorry for him and his family.

Whatever he was going through, to feel justified in killing babies, must have been torturous. Human beings hurt others when they’ve been hurt. Clearly Adam Lanza’s anger and hurt was misdirected.

The actions and outward appearance of a human being is a reflection of their inner thoughts and emotions. The outside of us shows us what’s on the inside. And if you can look at what Adam Lanza did last Friday in Sandy Hook Elementary, you can feel his pain inside, the same pain we were all feeling when we first heard of the attacks. The same torturous, raw, breaking pain that the parents and families are feeling right now.

So why? Why would someone do this?

Since Friday afternoon all I’ve been hearing is how we need stricter gun laws.

This Slate article breaks down how much better of we’d be with stricter gun laws by comparing the Sandy Hook attack with an attack in China.

But I wonder exactly what kind of pain those children in China will hang on to and perhaps perpetuate upon others after they’ve been stabbed and terrorized.

If I were forced to choose, it’s no contest, I’d pick my scared, but alive, child any day. But I’m not sure that it’s much better for society to have masses of paranoid, anxious, angry children growing up.

So yes, we need more gun control. But we also need to ask why? Why do we have people/men feeling such urges to kill in en masse.

I think we need to start looking around and seeing what we can do to prevent the pain. Prevention of shootings will only continue to perpetuate the pain.

Ways you can help out Sandy Hook victims:


  1. Elizabeth says:

    December 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I have also felt sorrow and compassion for Adam Lanza and his family. It goes without saying that I am horrified by his act of violence against sweet little babies. But he was obviously a tortured soul. No one would kill small children without being in an unbelievably distorted and scary mindset. This cannot be an act of anger or “evil”. This was the act of a very mentally ill young man. As a mental health counselor, I am keenly aware of the lack of resources for the mentally ill, particularly children and teens. In Florida(and most of the US) there are few intensive mental health resources for anyone that has not committed numerous crimes. I recognize our reluctance to return to the days when mental hospitals were a dumping ground for any and all of society’s outcasts, but there needs to be a better system than what we have in place. Also,I am now concerned that school officials are going to start to profile and further ostracize kids who seem socially awkward because of the fear that they will flip out one day. I believe we need to provide more support for these kids, helping them to find and connect with peers they can relate to and coaching all kids to be kind and tolerant of others. Personally, I think a total overhaul of our society is in order. Less emphasis on competition and violence. More emphasis on kindness and tolerance of others. And certainly more intervention and assistance for the mentally ill and their families. Such a sad, sad tragedy.

    • says:

      December 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Liz, I always love your thoughtful and compassionate responses. I have been very saddened by all the hatred being spewed about Adam Lanza and his family. It’s unsettling that they have been dehumanized, as we tend to do with scary emotions. The thing that bothers me the most about this shooting (other than the obvious) is that by all reports so far, no one seemed to have a clue about his state of mind. I do wonder if he snapped for some reason. We will likely never know.

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