Why did Adam Lanza shoot 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut?
Why did he target children with whom he had no known connection?
This question is on every person’s mind and lips in the aftermath. If we knew WHY, we could perhaps prevent the next tragedy, right?
No one will ever know for sure why he entered Sandy Hook Elementary and killed so many people before he took his own life. But we can hazard some guesses.
Some will say it’s guns. But guns have been part of our culture since our country began. And it’s not just assault weapons. Case in point? Switzerland requires every adult male to have a military-issued assault rifle, and they train them on using it as part of their national militia. And their gun crime rate is much smaller than ours. So we can’t lay it solely at the feet of the availability of assault weapons, although many people rightfully question whether citizens really *need* unfettered access to weapons that are intended for the sole purpose of killing other humans.
Some will say it’s symptomatic of our broken healthcare system. But arguably, no healthcare system in the world or history has ever effectively tackled the challenges of mental health. If somiething was never perfect, it can’t be broken. Maybe the perfect system has yet to be invented, but we have countless high-functioning autistic members of society, as well as countless who suffer from anxiety, depression and serious mental illness. Many of whom do not and will never pose a threat to anyone. So it’s not simply the lack of healthcare…which is available, albeit not free.
Some will say that it’s the proliferation of violent video games, movies and rap lyrics that have led us to view killing with jaded eyes. That issue warrants further exploration, but the same people who champion limiting our Second Amendment right to bear arms are “up in arms” when anyone breathes a word about limiting their First Amendment right to free speech, even though that right was clearly intended to allow us free speech against our rulers; nothing more, nothing less.
Some will say it’s because we’ve removed God from schools and society. It is apparent that turning our backs on godly principles has made us less moral and respectful in the years since we acquiesced to the demands of those who reject Him in their own lives. However, I’d say God is right where He wishes to be, whether we acknowledge Him or ignore Him or refuse to believe in Him.
We can cast about all we want, and will probably never come to a consensus on an answer to the question of “Why?”
As a society, we cannot shoulder responsibility for Adam Lanza’s actions that dreadful day. Regardless of what factored into his life and worldview, he alone chose his path. And we cannot legislate enough rules or laws that will guarantee another person doesn’t follow the same path, whether it’s with guns, bombs, poison gas or any other tool they choose to carry out a horrific plan.
At the same time, as individuals, we cannot continue to ignore our responsibility to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we all followed that simple but oh-so-hard-to-live principle, these issues would vanish without any need for legislation or rules.
Guns would be viewed as a lethal responsibility of those who sell and buy them.
Mental health would become a personal responsibility for everyone, and a family responsibility when an individual is too fractured to make choices for their well-being. We would have to accept the need for institutions and we would provide humane and dignified treatment of those who need to be in that environment for their safety and ours.
Violent movies, games and songs would wither on the vine because people would simply choose to not buy, look or listen to them. The economic forces would efficiently deal them out of society.
And our children, whether they are 6-week-old fetuses or 6-year-old first graders, would not be harmed by anyone.
So I guess there is an answer to the question, “Why?” It’s just not an answer that all are willing to hear or accept.
I pray – fervently – that on this eve of the day the world acknowledges that Jesus entered the world, that we would all ask ourselves why we don’t strive harder to live this simple truth? And why don’t we share the good news of Jesus’ teachings with others?