In the months since the Newtown shooting, police believe that they have begun to piece together details about Adam Lanza‘s crimes, including the most mysterious and haunting aspect: his motive. Why did this young man kill his mother and then attack innocent children and teachers at a local elementary school? Why did 27 people die?
Officials are finally laying out a possible motive for these horrible crimes. They believe that Adam Lanza was attempting to compete with the horrible massacre in Norway by Anders Breivik. Breivik killed 77 people, many of them teenagers at a summer camp. Lanza possibly believed that he was having some sort of competition with the mass murderer and was trying to top Breivik’s kill score.
So why Sandy Hook Elementary School? Authorities believe the school simply provided the largest cluster of people in the closest proximity. Lanza picked the school specifically because he thought he would have the best chance of murdering a large amount of people there. They say he saw the murders like a video game, and he was simply trying to “score” higher than the other infamous shooter.
This type of competitive killing has been seen before in another infamous school shooting. According to Dave Cullen‘s exhaustively researched (and highly recommended) book Columbine, that massacre was a response to the Oklahoma City bombing. The boys were not planning on shooting all of their victims. They were attempting to bomb their school and then shoot survivors as they fled. It was only when the bombs malfunctioned that they began their shooting spree.
Many believe that understanding the motive can help the families of victims better cope with their loss. Unfortunately, this specific information likely does little to assuage anyone’s grief. These children died because Adam Lanza didn’t even see them as human beings, just as a score to mark against another depraved murderer.
The other implicit aspect of Adam Lanza’s motive that is sure to raise fears with parents and politicians alike is the presence and influence of violent video games. Police say they found a “trove” of games in Lanza’s basement. The “kill count” competition is obviously reminiscent of violent, military-style games. The question will be raised again whether violent video games are a threat to our society.
And I think that parents will have to take a deep look inside themselves and say that if we see our children getting addicted to these games or confusing them with reality, it is our responsibility to step forward and get our kids help. It is the duty of parents to talk with our kids about violent entertainment and how it differs from real life. Have the sex talk. Then have the violence talk.
We’ll never know exactly what was going on in Adam Lanza’s mind. He took that opportunity away from us when he committed suicide. Police believe that he was obsessed with Anders Breivik and that this had a huge impact on his crimes. It certainly doesn’t feel like closure, but it might be the only information that the families of victims and survivors get.