Late last night The New Yorker posted an exclusive Andrew Solomon interview with Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook mass killer, who has been largely silent. Solomon actually secured a series of interviews with Lanza, and obtained a number of interesting, even moving, revelations, at least concerning the father. For example, he says he hates to tell people his name and has considered changing it but will not.
Then there’s this:
Peter does not think that Adam had any affection for him, either, by that point. He said, “With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan; one for me.”
And there’s this:
Since the shootings, Peter has avoided the press, but in September, as the first anniversary of his son’s rampage approached, he contacted me to say that he was ready to tell his story. We met six times, for interviews lasting as long as seven hours. Shelley, a librarian at the University of Connecticut, usually joined us and made soup or chili or salads for lunch….An accountant who is a vice-president for taxes at a General Electric subsidiary, he maintains a nearly fanatical insistence on facts, and nothing annoyed him more in our conversations than speculation—by me, the media, or anyone else. He is not by nature given to self-examination, and often it was Shelley who underlined the emotional ramifications of what he said.
Peter hadn’t seen his son for two years at the time of the Sandy Hook killings, and, even with hindsight, he doesn’t think that the catastrophe could have been predicted. But he constantly thinks about what he could have done differently and wishes he had pushed harder to see Adam.
At the conclusion he has to admit that it would have been better for the world if his son had never been born.
However, the lengthy piece offers very little new information or analysis of what made Adam Lanza go over the edge. We learn, again, about his mental and social issues, but that big leap to mass violence remains a mystery—despite this unprecedented access to the father (who was close to his son—until the crucial final two years).
But the main failing is that Solomon, and Lanza, barely mention the ex-wife’s leaving guns (and ammo) around the house with easy access, and Solomon doesn’t bring it up either. There’s just one passing comment from Peter Lanza about his ex-wife’s allowing the five rifles and guns, which suggests she must not have been afraid of her son. And that’s it. No discussion of the overall arsenal, not securing it in the house, Nancy writing a check for Adam to buy a pistol himself and encouraging his gun obsessions, with frequent trips to the firing range, etc.
Did the father ever question any of these red flags? We’lll never know, at least from Solomon.
Perhaps that is not the key angle in the Sandy Hook tragedy—but it certainly deserved more probing in this in-depth piece.