Well it does and it doesn’t. One major difference of course is that Columbine is a secondary school. The other is the shooter’s profiles. I shed tears while I viewed the beautiful tribute the Voice paid to the people who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. I don’t blame God and I don’t blame Adam Peter Lanza, for the Sandy Hook massacre, anymore than I blame Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold for the Columbine Secondary School massacre. Neither of these tragedies is simple enough to suggest one easy, underlying motive. Both massacres involved many pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle that no crime analyst or forensic psychiatrist will ever fully solve to anyone’s satisfaction. There is however one means that allowed the massacres to occur: The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution, part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. Had there never been a second admendment there most likely would never have been so many school attacks and massacres in American history. Lookit, there have been sad human adoptions where kids have been returned to the foster system. Can’t you Americans re-think adopting the right to bear arms?
There are at least 2 major differences between the two school shootings:
- personalities of the shooters
- motives and intentions
Columbine Massacre, 1999
Columbine, the largest American secondary school massacre involved two distinct personalities: Eric Harris, a depressive and Dylan Klebold, a psychopath, who simply followed Harris’s lead. They each had very different reasons for wanting to destroy Columbine Secondary School and everyone in and around it.
Method: The boys didn’t merely carry guns; they used 44 explosives that they wired ineptly, sparing many more lives
The attack was one year in planning, as Harris’ journal later revealed. They wired rooms and timed the devices to go off after their suicides.
Intention: Destroy the school building, killing all students, staff and parents inside, and destroy property and any people near the school within a significant radius.
Motive: In the short form, the pair often wrote about events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Waco Siege, the Vietnam War with notes on how they wished to “outdo” these events, focusing especially on what Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City. Harris, who had major depressive disorder, an inherited condition, also felt targeted by bullies due to his awkward appearance and lack of success with girls.
Eric Harris: Depressive and Psychopath (refer to Robert Hare and the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised). Harris was posthumously assessed as having a messianic-level superiority complex, and hoped to demonstrate his superiority to the world. Harris was taking Fluvoxamine (Luvox), SSRI, an anti-depressant,used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders such as panic disorder (although I am not suggesting he had any of these…it has only been confirmed that he suffered from depression). Fluvoxamine CR (controlled release) is approved to treat social anxiety disorder. The FDA has added a Black box warning for this drug in reference to increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior in young adults and children. Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be associated with violence. Why was Harris a depressive and why was he taking Luvox? The answer is in his letter. It is suggested that Harris wrote about being bullied:
Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look, and how fucking weak I am and shit. Well, I will get you all back: ultimate fucking revenge here. You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for my knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn’t have been as ready to tear your fucking heads off…That’s where a lot of my hate grows from. The fact that I have practically no self-esteem. Especially concerning girls and looks and such. therefore people make fun of me…constantly…therefore I get no respect and therefore I get fucking PISSED
That the massacre occurred due to the boys being constantly bullied was highly questionable, as both Harris and Klebold had a close circle of friends and a wider informal social group. This entry supports Harris’s bullying by some students, yet the fuller picture provided by friends and family, doesn’t.
Another excerpt from Harris’s journal tells a very different story:
Everyone says it’s immoral to follow others, they say be a leader, well here’s a fucken newsflash for you stupid shits, everyone is a follower, everyone who says they aren’t followers and then dresses differently, or acts differently, they got that from something they saw on TV as in film or in life, no originality…how many do you think are original and not copied…and although they might think they aren’t and try to deny it no matter how hard I try to not copy someone I still AM! except for the fucking piece of paper right here and BTW, spelling is stupid unless I say I (?) spell it how it sounds, its this fucken easiest way!
Harris’s 16 page journal is one long rambling diatribe of hatred about his life, his community and everything and everyone in it. This is far beyond bullying, music, trench coats, jocks, goths, or girls.This is the sick mind of a child psychopath whose anger was somehow grossly overlooked or denied by family, friends, schoolmates, and community until it was far too late.
Dylan Klebold – Harris was clearly the leader in their fatal friendship. Klebold didn’t appear to have personal reasons to destroy the school. Without Harris’ constant prodding (brainwashing is not an exaggeration), Klebold had no reason to take part in the massacre. He was reasonably successful with girls, well-liked by some, as was Harris in spite of his journal diatribe. Klebold was not known to suffer from low self-esteem or a personality disorder, with the possible exception of being extremely impressionable. At any rate, Klebold saw the massacre as a revelation, a coming of age of sorts. His perspective on the massacre was not that of vengeance but one of freedom. In Harris’s journal he wrote many bitter notes about Columbine and the “plan” that took one year to orchestrate, but it is believed he did so mostly to appease Harris.
Blame for the shootings was also directed on a number of metal or ‘dark music’ bands. The majority of that blame was directed at Marilyn Manson. After being linked by news outlets’ sensationalist headlines such as “Killers Worshipped Rock Freak Manson” and “Devil-Worshipping Maniac Told Kids To Kill, were commonplace. However later reports stated that the two were not fans. Media reports portrayed the boys as part of a Gothic cult and a firm belief that Harris and Klebold were part of Gothic subculture.Harris and Klebold were initially thought to be members of “The Trench Coat Mafia;” an informal club within Columbine High School. Later, such characterizations were proven to be incorrect. And blaming a massacre on a genre of music (also incorrectly believed to be Marilyn Manson’s goth sound) is one of the most simple-minded theories I’ve personally ever heard. Too easy.
The boys got into trouble with the law for breaking into a locked van and stealing computers. In January 1998, they were charged with mischief, breaking and entering trespassing, and theft. They left good impressions on the juvenile officers, who expunged their criminal records after they attended a program that included community service, received psychiatric treatment, and obeyed the law. Harris was required to attend anger management classes . They were so well-behaved that their probation officer discharged them from the program earlier than the due date. Of Harris, it was remarked that he was “a very bright individual who is likely to succeed in life“, while Klebold was said to be intelligent, but “needs to understand that hard work is part of fulfilling a dream.” On May 1998, Harris typed a letter of apology to the owner of the van, saying he was sorry he did it. However, he was writing in his journal at the same time: “Why shouldn’t we, the gods, have the right to break into a van that some motherfucker left in the middle of nowhere?!” Such a comment doesn’t sound like a bullied outcast to me.
The two made a video for a school project where they shot fake guns and “snuffed” students in the hallway of their school as Hitmen for Hire. The video is known for its swearing scenes, in which they yelled at the camera and said violent things. They both displayed themes of violence in their creative writing projects for school; a tale written by Harris on January 17, 1999, Harris’s teacher said: “Yours is a unique approach and your writing works in a gruesome way—good details and mood setting.” I wonder if the teacher offered the same critique of their Columbine massacre. I also wonder if that teacher is alive to have offered the same critique of their Columbine massacre.
At 12:08 p.m., Harris and Klebold shouted out in unison: “One! Two! Three!” then the sound of gunfire.Harris fired his shotgun through the roof of his mouth, damaging his face and blasting off the back of his head. Klebold shot himself in the left temple with his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, a bullet slicing through his head . The massacre was over. The damage had just begun.
Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, 2012
I do not know the specifics of Allen Lanza’s intentions and motives as listed in the Columbine Massacre above and at this point, neither does anyone else. Peter Allen Lanza was home-schooled, and spent a great deal of time with his mother, Nancy. Lanza lived at her luxurious house in Sandy Hook, 5 miles (8 km) from the elementary school, a family’s four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot estate. The Lanza’s divorced in 2008. Peter Lanza, vice president of taxes for GE Energy Financial Services, agreed to annual alimony payments that started at $240,000 and would have reached $298,800 in 2015.
Nancy was a gun enthusiast and owned at least a dozen firearms. She brought Allen to the local gun range as often as she could. Fun for the whole family. Yet strangely, Nancy, whom Adam murdered, was known as a pillar of the community, while neighbors viewed her troubled son as a terror. She had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School but quit to stay home and take care of her troubled son. Nancy “battled” with the school board and ultimately had her son home-schooled. Students and teachers who knew him in high school described Lanza as “intelligent, but nervous and fidgety“. He avoided attention and didn’t like to socialize. He had no close friends in school. Lanza was believed to have a personality disorder and was “somewhat autistic“, possibly an aspberger person.
Aspberger syndrome is not synonymous with violence (or with school massacres). Many successful people, including Bill Gates, Dan Akroyd, and Andy Warhol are believed to have/had aspberger’s. (Aspberger’s is also not synonymous with software, celebrity or art.) Typical aspberger traits include difficulties in social interaction, with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour. It differs from other autism disorders by its reasonable linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported. The way aspberger’s generally expresses itself in a young child, is that aspbergers children are obviously intelligent, quite able to socialize as they mature in age (although this depends on many factors, including the home environment), like any child, express a wide array of emotions (although it is fair to state young children seem to be quite happy in their surroundings) and communicate well with others. A more severely autistic child struggles with all of the aforementioned, appears unaware of his or her environment, doesn’t attempt to socialize and has no interest in doing so. Seldom do such children display obvious intelligence or awareness. In Adam’s case, aspberger’s may partially account for his fear of socialization and his tendency to be a loner. He was also a sufferer or congenital algesia, or the inability or possible indifference to pain.
I detail Lanza’s asperberger’s and congenital analgesia not to suggest that these conditions are responsible for the school massacre. It is the mysterious, atypical circuits in Lanza’s brain, along with other significant external sociofamilial factors that seem to have culminated in his final emotional eruption. There is so much about the human brain, brain chemistry, hormone systems, personality disorders, learning disabilities, neurological dysfunction and inherited disease that interact with one another in a truly profound manner, far more profound than we will understand in this lifetime.
Since the massacre, people who knew him have described Lanza as a deeply disturbed kid….there’s a surprise. Family members stated he often had “outbursts” of rage, and in an ironic twist, he had a condition where he was unable to feel physical (although obviously not emotional) pain. Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), also known as congenital analgesia, is one or more rare conditions where a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain. These people however can still feel discriminative touch though not always temperature. There are some cases where the condition is caused by increased production of endorphins in the brain. It has not specifically been stated whether Lanza was insensitive to pain or indifferent to it (more irony), as there are generally two types of non-response exhibited.
- Insensitivity to pain means the painful stimulus is not even perceived: a patient cannot describe the intensity or type of pain, and is impervious to it, except there is an awareness of a change in termperature.
- Indifference to pain means the patient can perceive the stimulus, but lacks an appropriate response; they will not flinch or withdraw when exposed to pain.
In addition, congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA), also called hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type IV — is an extremely rare inherited disorder of the nervous system which prevents the sensation of pain, heat, cold, or any real nerve-related sensations (including feeling the need to urinate); however, patients can still feel pressure. It has not been revealed whether Lanza inherited this extreme condition, rather than the aforementioned. A bitter neighbour stated, “Adam Lanza has been a weird kid since we were 5 years old,” a neighbor and former classmate named Tim Dalton wrote on Twitter. “As horrible as this was, I can’t say I am surprised . . . Burn in hell, Adam.” (at least he won’t feel it) A school friend of Lanza’s stated, “he was weird. He didn’t talk much.” Adam’s aunt, Marsha Lanza, stated, “he was definitely the challenge of the family in that house. Every family has one.” (two in mine)
Asperberger’s syndrome, congenital analgesia, an abnormally strong bond with his mother, an environment encouraging the use of firearms, isolation from peers, disturbing behaviour patterns since childhood. All of these issues worked against Adam Lanza’s ability to function as a healthy, autonomous individual in society. Collectively, these issues affected his ability to succeed at school. Adam Lanza, described as the “weird kid“, never had a chance in life from the start. No doubt, as with the Columbine shooters, Adam’s life and his baffling decision to slaughter elementary school children will be revealed in detail over the years, as more information is gathered.
If you haven’t seen the film We Need to Talk About Kevin, see it. In this case, the boy in question (Ezra Miller) is not an aspberger’s child, but a child psychopath, a truth refuted by his stalwart father (John C Reilly) who only sees the good in Kevin. Kevin’s mother, (Tilden Swanson), spends far more time alone with her son, recognizes his pathology and is helpless to protect her family and herself from his evil. I won’t give away too many plot details however I will offer a connection to this blog. Spoiler Alert: At the end of the movie, Swanson asks Miller why he did it. His hateful glare, his quiet, understated answer, reflect 16 years of cold and passive fury: “I used to know. Now I don’t.” Perhaps a better question would have been how he had the chance to do it. His answer, no doubt as quiet and cold-blooded, would have been easier to comprehend: “Because as an American citizen, I have the right to bear arms.”
People needed to talk about Harris, Klebold, Lanza and gun control laws. The more right you have to bear arms, the more danger you are in. The Mayans were half-right about the end of the world. They were off by one week.