Nancy Lanza buried as locals ask: was massacre her fault?
One week on... private funeral takes place 200 miles away from the scene of Adam Lanza's rampage
WAS NANCY LANZA to blame for the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting rampage perpetrated by her 20-year-old son, Adam Lanza, a week ago today?
As the people of Newtown, Connecticut continue to watch in shock the funeral corteges of child-sized coffins passing through this affluent community, many are beginning to think so.
As the Washington Post reports, Lanza, a 52-year-old divorcee, is being left out of the local memorials. She was the first to be shot by her son – four bullets in the head while she lay in bed – but is no longer counted among the victims.
There are 26 Christmas trees standing on the road outside Sandy Hook school, each one bearing the name of a victim, but none for Nancy Lanza. Memorials, and news headlines, tend to count 26 victims, not 27.
"I am feeling that there is more anger toward the mother than there is toward the son," Lisa Sheridan, a Newtown parent, told the Post.
"Why would a woman who had a son like this, who clearly had serious issues, keep assault rifles in the house and teach him how to shoot them?" she went on. "To deal with that, there's a feeling here that we're just going to focus on the 26 innocent people who died at the school."
She could hardly have put it more clearly.
Nancy Lanza was buried yesterday, not in Newtown, but 200 miles north in New Hampshire. The location was not disclosed but as the Boston Herald reports, it is most likely the funeral took place in the town of Kingston where she was brought up, married and gave birth to Adam and his older brother, Ryan, before moving to Connecticut.
Only close family attended. Adam was not buried with her: his body remains unclaimed a week after he shot his 27 victims and then turned a gun on himself as the police approached.
The facts of the case are coming to light only slowly. But we do know that Nancy Lanza, lurching into the "preppers" survivalist sub-culture, had stockpiled an armory of lethal weapons alongside her cans of beans, and we know that she had taught Adam to shoot on frequent trips to the shooting range. Federal agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco have established that the last trip to the range was six months ago.
Himansu Patel, owner of the Newtown convenience store, asks how Adam got hold of his mother's guns. "If she had kept them in a safer place," he said, "this thing might not have happened."
Alexander Isgut, a paediatrician in Newtown, said: "If you are going to have an armory," he said, "you have to be responsible for it. Nobody else but you should have access to it."
So far, the police have not disclosed how Nancy Lanza kept the guns, nor how Adam got his hands on them. Did he pry open locks? Did he have the key? Or were the guns standing ready for "prepper home defence"?
The bottom line of the whole argument over the Second Amendment "right to bear arms" is that it is a citizen's right to own as many weapons as he or she likes, but the consequences are that individual's responsibility.
Most Europeans think that the community - the government – should decide what is safe for the community. Americans consider that undemocratic "regulation" and believe the individual should make the choice and pay the price - up to and including the death penalty - when things go wrong.
It is the behaviour of the gun owner that counts, and Americans are finding Nancy Lanza's behaviour wanting.
She was a divorcee, hardly unique in America, but she was also a divorcee who enjoyed alimony of $250,000 a year, a good share of her ex's savings, a pension deal and even a share in the family season tickets to the local football games. Newspapers have pored over the divorce papers, but found no "cause" for the parents' split after 28 years of marriage.
They have discovered, however, that Adam's father remarried and that Adam had not spoken to him since. They have also discovered that Adam suffered from the Asperger's variant of autism and was sufficiently academically advanced to have graduated high school two years early, yet dropped out of college when his parents' divorce became final.
Nancy Lanza did have friends in town, and some have spoken up for her. Mark Tambascio, owner of the My Place restaurant and bar that Lanza frequented, said she had always been a devoted mother trying to do the best for Adam.
"Her kids were always first," he said. "She was very concerned about, obviously Adam — very difficult bringing somebody like that up."
Perhaps she had reached the end of her rope. The ‘prepping' phenomenon is usually a sign of stress and fear and there have been reports that she was variously planning to move to Washington on the Pacific coast, where she had found a special college to help Adam, or that she was planning to commit him to a clinic.
The suggestion is that he succumbed to rage at the prospect of being moved from his home into an institution.
The Daily Mail reports that Nancy Lanza quite often took short holidays as a break from caring for Adam and that she had just returned from such a trip the evening before Adam snapped.
Nancy, the good mother, had prepared all his meals before she left, because she could not trust him to cook. Yet she trusted him with an armory of guns.