Question of the Day: Could the Newtown, CT Killer Have Been Stopped?


The above image is from a porno-friendly file sharing website called There’s no confirmation that the post is genuine, but it’s entirely possible that Newtown Connecticut spree killer Adam Lanza left these two messages as an anonymous warning of his plan to commit mass murder or, at the least, kill himself. If so, it’s easy to understand how readers wouldn’t take it seriously. The site isn’t exactly the kind of place you’d expect mental health professional to troll for messed-up minds—although God knows you’ll find some there. And here. And everywhere. And even if they did, what then? I’m not sure would surrender the poster’s IP address without a warrant. And if they could have, should they? In any case, the post raises an important question than privacy issues or shot-in-the-dark crime prevention . . .

Could Adam Lanza have been stopped? On one hand, it’s a maddening question of luck. A simple twist of fate could have stopped Lanza in his tracks. For example . . .

Lanza had a couple of speeding tickets on his record (and that’s all). What if a cop had pulled him over for speeding on the way to the school? Maybe the cop would have noticed the guns or his demeanor and arrested him on-the-spot.

What if someone had discovered the murder scene Lanza left behind before the killer made it to the school, put two-and-two together and called Sandy Hook Elementary with a warning?

What if someone at Sandy Hook had seen Lanza at the school before, got a bad vibe, and happened to be the one who buzzes the door? Maybe he or she could have thought, nope. Not gonna do it.

What if, what if, what if. In the aftermath of this heinous crime, millions of Americans are wondering “what if” in regard to the Newtown massacre. As well they should. Considering prevention strategies in the wake of disaster or potential disaster is part of the learning process that keeps us alive; as individuals, families, communities and countries.

But we should spend that mental energy wisely.

The gun control industry wants us to wonder “what if Adam Lanza couldn’t get a gun?” Of all the possible retrospective analysis, that’s one of the least fruitful. There are too many guns in circulation to worry about restricting access to a determined madman. And too many other ways to kill.

Many gun rights advocates would have us wonder “what if a teacher had been armed?” That’s a far more effective line of enquiry, but I think it needs to be seen in the wider context. As in “what if we took our children’s safety more seriously?”

If we did, we’d make a lot of changes. And I don’t just mean locking our schools’ front doors, modifying and practicing active shooter drills (which clearly failed in this case), paying more attention to the people in a school community, adding more trained guards, arming teachers, etc. I mean all of it.

Security is an onion. The best security is a dynamic system. It’s alert and alive and responds to threats on an ongoing evolutionary, adaptive, reactive and proactive basis; based on an ever-changing, as-comprehensive-as-possible plan. Comprehensive as in everyone’s on board.

And now, one hopes, everyone will be on board. Sad to say, but the more attacks like this one at Sandy Hook, the more schools will modify their security. The more mental health professionals will consider their charges. The more the cops will adjust their tactics and techniques.

The more gun control we’ll have? Hopefully not. Taking firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, restricting their ability to carry them, reduces our options for protecting our children and ourselves from spree killers, criminals and our own government. And that’s the truth.

None of which answers the question that worries us like the hole where a tooth used to be. Could Adam Lanza have been stopped? Yes and no. Unfortunately, that’s how life is. A crap shoot with evil lurking in the shadows. Eternally.

Am I wrong?