Adam Lanza, a troubled 'genius,' reportedly shot and killed 20 elementary school pupils and seven adults, including his mother, before killing himself in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. The national tragedy has sparked a search for ways to stop a senseless streak of mass killings.
New details in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre suggest that the alleged shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, may have suffered from autism or a personality disorder and also had easy access to high-powered weapons – a combination of unique circumstances that may complicate President Obama's call for broad "meaningful action" in the wake of a national tragedy.
The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday pose many difficult questions about American views toward mental health problems among disaffected young men as well as possible impacts of a violent media and gun culture.
But the tragic events, experts say, also offer a unique opportunity for America to reassess its values and culture without getting bogged down by politics – a development that could yield possible solutions to a streak of mass shootings this year that have ended with a total of 65 Americans – including, now, 20 school children – losing their lives in swirls of high-powered gun fire, primarily with young, intelligent and disinhibited men behind the triggers.
"Clearly, this is a young man who was very, very angry and willing to express his anger in almost unthinkable ways," says James Cassidy, a criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven. "But I think we do also have to look at ourselves here. Yes, it's unclear … what factors were the most prevalent, but certainly the fact that we have a mental health system that is failing right now plays a role. We're also coming to understand that while violence on TV, in movies and in lyrics haven't led to more crime, it does appear that a certain faction of society is vulnerable to such violence, that it disinhibits them in some way."
Page 1 of 5