“No set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”
So said President Obama in words of comfort in Newtown. The president was right to speak of evil, but mistaken when he called the massacre “senseless.”
For this was a premeditated and purposeful act of mass murder, and the devil that did it knew exactly what he was doing and why.
When he put four bullets into his mother’s head while she lay in bed, Adam Lanza wanted her life ended along with his. When he headed for Sandy Hook Elementary, with the Glocks and Bushmaster rifle, he knew he would encounter no armed resistance.
Before he went into that school to shoot 20, 30 or 40 children, barely more than babies, he knew his slaughter would be so stomach-turning and heart-wrenching that the TV crews would come running.
And by day’s end, the world would know who Adam Lanza was.
Lanza kept firing at the children until he heard the sirens. Then he pulled out one of the Glocks, put it to his head and ended it, knowing he was on his way to becoming world famous.
Just as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine are famous. Just as James Holmes, the “Joker” of the Aurora “Dark Knight Rising” massacre, is famous. Just as Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson mass murderer who shot Gabby Giffords, is famous.
A desire to be famous coupled with a dead conscience is the common thread running through these recurring atrocities. These loners and losers want us to know who they are. And, to succeed now, each almost has to outdo in horror those who went before.
Since the news first came in Friday from Newtown, we have argued about guns in America and mental illness, but heard little about the moral sickness of our society.
Americans have always owned guns. But in Prohibition, when gangsters like John Dillinger, “Machine Gun” Kelly and “Baby Face” Nelson were notorious, the most remembered atrocity was the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” Al Capone’s gang executed seven of Bugs Moran’s gang in a Chicago garage.
Yet, just two years ago, when one Washington, D.C., drive-by shooting ended with four dead on a sidewalk and five wounded, it was just local news.
Why are these atrocities growing more frequent and deadly?
We are told that it is because the guns used—especially assault rifles like Russian-made AK-47s and civilian copies of the M-16 used in Vietnam, like the Bushmaster—are all too available.