Nancy Lanza May Have Been a 'Survivalist' and a Prepper

Illustration for article titled Nancy Lanza May Have Been a Survivalist and a Prepper

More details are emerging about the home life of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza, though it's always best to take these things with a big grain of salt. The Telegraph is now reporting that Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother and first victim on Friday, was actively stockpiling guns and supplies to prepare for an economic collapse. Says her sister-in-law Marsha Lanza:

"She prepared for the worst. Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping -– are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?"

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Nancy Lanza, according to police, had five guns legally registered to her name, at least three of which were carried by Adam Lanza into the school.

At this point, it's easy and natural to sensationalize and speculate into the happenings of the Lanza household. Adam Lanza was, without a doubt, unstable and Nancy Lanza was, at best, struggling to handle it (a week before the shooting, she reportedly told friends that she was losing her son, saying "it was getting worse" and she was "having trouble reaching him"). If we deem them as doomsday preppers, it becomes a little easier to separate their reality from our own, to make us feel that we know what the danger signs are and to help to help comfort ourselves into thinking that knowing all this could protect our children and ourselves from a similarly horrible event in the future.

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Of course, there is some value in warning signs and quite a bit of value in understanding the types of environments that can exacerbate mental illnesses, especially the ones that can turn violent. Still, all of that understanding, speculation and sensationalism has to lead somewhere beyond the comfort of "this could never happen in my home." Hopefully (and probably), that's true, but the fact is that stigmatizing and alienating the homes that it could happen in does not help as much as, say, better access to mental healthcare, better support for the families of the mentally ill and, yes, better gun control undoubtedly could.

Connecticut school shooting: Adam Lanza's mother was preparing for disaster [Telegraph]

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DISCUSSION

So, I've seen a few forums/blogs online with people complaining about the fact that everyone is "assuming" that Lanza was mentally ill. I don't understand this complaint at all. I've always thought that by definition, someone who commits mass murder (putting aside for the moment those who do so during war) does not have his/her brain chemistry in balance, but I'm also aware that the fact that I've read *Incognito* and a couple of books on neuroeconomics does not make me an expert on brains. Does anyone know where this argument is coming from, and if it is based on something solid? (It is connected to the belief that calling him such somehow demonizes all mentally ill people, which would indeed be very lame.) Have there been any shooters who have had "typical" brains?