WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

If son had behavioral problems, why all those guns?

After the volumes and volumes that have already been said & written about this unspeakable, haunting tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, here are my central questions:

Obviously Nancy Lanza KNEW her son Adam had long been troubled. If so, why take the risk of maintaining a gun collection? Did she keep the weapons under lock and key?

Assuming the Lanzas were aware of Adam's peculiar personality from early on, DID they - or she - take him to target practice? (News accounts differ on this point.)

Conversely, one fears authorities may never be able to ascertain Adam's final mental state, the mental calculations which would have led him to unleash such unthinkable violence.

Already, with the reliability of "Groundhog Day" - and the same arguments from each side - the gun-control debate has again erupted. I will leave that for another day, except to observe Nancy Lanza acquired her guns legally in a state with stricter gun laws.

You can hear two Delaware public school superintendents tell me how they responded to the Connecticut carnage...

Audio Here

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports Nancy Lanza confided to at least one person at a Newtown watering hole that her son, Adam, was "getting worse" and that she was "losing him"...


From the U.K.'s DAILY MAIL: "The mother of Newtown school massacre gunman Adam Lanza was a survivalist who was stockpiling food because she thought the world economy on the verge of collapse.

Nancy Lanza began hoarding food and water because she feared that the ongoing financial crisis was going to bring about the end of civilized society.

She reportedly became 'obsessed' with guns and taught Adam how to shoot, but on Friday in a grim twist he blasted her to death while she laid in her own bed..."

"The disclosure raises the prospect that Adam could have had the same apocalyptic views as his mother, and that she could have even encouraged them in him..."

(To state the obvious, the mother is not around to defend herself.)

Here's that article in full from The DAILY MAIL...


Check out this piece from The Poynter Institute -- which follows and guides journalists -- on tips for journalists covering the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy:


Two Congressional correspondents -- Mike Lillis of The HILL & CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss -- discuss whether the Connecticut tragedy will likely alter the political psychology related to guns on Capitol Hill...

Audio Here

Another thing as utterly predictable as "Groundhog Day": Members of Westboro Baptist Church plan to trek to Newtown and congregate around Sandy Hook Elementary School, offering praise to God for "executing his judgment".

Posted at 7:41am on December 17, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 8:53am
Rather than placing the majority of blame and focusing all attention on the weapons used (a knife or any other object could just as easily be used on a sleeping person), why not instead look at the root of the problem...the mental health system?

Just like the Columbine, Tuscon AZ, and Batman/Joker killers, this twenty-something male was apparently highly intelligent, but very troubled. Not too many people have said the standard quote: "He was such a nice kid, how did this happen?". 


So, before we start changing gun laws...maybe we should look into the mental-health system first. Adam (as everyone interviewed has stated) had serious issues...writing new gun laws will not stop something like this from happening. He tried to purchase weapons legally in Connecticut and was turned down...why did this not send up a mental-health intervention RED FLAG?
BTW, the Westboro group is beyond despicable and I imagine there is a special spot in hell reserved just for them.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 9:02am
Yes, the same old tired Second Amendment arguments are not only trite but plain wrong: Nobody uses an AK 47 and Glock to go pigeon hunting.

Time to ban these weapons entirely. If you don't like it, you can leave our country.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 9:14am

Just curious... Did you ever actually look into Ron Paul's position on the Second Amendment when you were his only cheerleader on this blog?

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 10:18am
Although it is far too early to paint a definitive picture of this family, one factor is emerging. They were not your 1950’s “happy, traditional, family.” They have been reasonably well off financially, but three aspects of their lives bother me.

Neither mother nor the son who lived with her appears to have had regular jobs. Mother worked once in a while at the elementary school. Sometimes that work was volunteer. Perhaps her ex-husband was generous and kept her supplied with money. But guns and stockpiling food takes funding. Where are the co-workers to interview, rather than a “drinking buddy?”

The second aspect to disturb me is the obsession with “end times.” She was probably a fan of “Coast to Coast AM.” 'The economy is collapsing, so buy gold and stockpile food' is a regular theme of that show. I’m not saying the show is incorrect; my wife is stocking up on freeze-dried food also. But combine that with the gun obsession and I get a feeling that she thought “they” were coming to get her and her family. In one of the interviews Allan has posted, she apparently liked to hunt with a falcon. That certainly takes skill and talent, but not automatic weapons.

Finally is the point Allan makes regarding having a disturbed son. Your son is mentally disturbed, so you stock up on guns and ammo? I suspect that both mother and son had issues that needed addressing. Now it is too late.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 10:18am
I'm not speaking on behalf of Ron Paul. I'm speaking behalf of teatime.

It's absurd and silly to say the crazed killer could've killed 28 people without an assault rifle. What's he gonna do---hit the kids with the back of his shoe?

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Dec 17, 2012 10:24am
I agree the mental-health system needs to be improved and brought back to at least where it was when President Reagan cut back on mental health services. That's when we started seeing in real numbers, homeless people in America. People were pushed out of those facilities due to those cutbacks and were not capable of being out on their own and thus a new breed of American was created...........The homeless person with a cardboard sign. I remember Reagan being asked about all the homeless people across the street at Lafayette park in 10-degree temps and he said they want to be there. Not one of Mr. Reagan's best moments.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 11:44am
JimH: I wonder how many people in NJ And NYC wish they had "stockpiled" food and water after they had neither after Hurricane Sandy?

MFD: I agree the mentally-ill should receive help rather than being pushed to the streets to fend for themselves...a large number of homeless I have met and talked to in Detroit and downtown Wilmington are mentally ill and need some real help. However, this 20-year-old killer was not poor and was very intelligent (just read he was taking college courses at 16)..but due to Connecticut law his mother could not "institute" him.

"In February 2012, Connecticut Senate Bill 452 (SB452) was put forward to remedy the fact that Connecticut was one of less than ten states in the U.S. to lack an "assisted outpatient treatment" (AOT) law. 
But the bill was passed to Connecticut's Joint Committee on Judiciary in March, where it quietly faded away because of opposition by those who viewed it as "egregious" and "outrageously discriminatory."
Had this law passed, it may have forced Adam Lanza to be treated for his alleged mental illness instead of allowing him to roam free, and ultimately to kill 26 persons and himself in a vindictive rage on Friday. 
Although there is some variation, the way these laws work in other states is simple: AOT laws preempt older statutes that only allow the mentally ill to be forcibly institutionalized for treatment if they've done harm to themselves or others.  This is possible because AOT laws allow a state to institutionalize a mentally ill person for treatment if the state has reason to suspect such institutionalization will prevent the individual from doing harm to self or others. 
Why didn't the legislation pass? Because the ACLU and other "civil liberties" groups and individuals cried foul. The ACLU in particular said 452 would "infringe on patients' privacy rights by expanding [the circle of] who can medicate individuals without their consent." They also said it infringed on patient rights by reducing the number of doctors' opinions necessary to commit someone to institutionalization. 
To be clear, no one can know that the passage of SB452 would have stopped Lanza for sure, as there's no guarantee a doctor or mental-health specialist would have seen the warning signs in time to institutionalize him for treatment. 
However, it is worth noting that proponents of SB452 had the prevention of situations like Friday's shooting in mind when they tried to provide Connecticut residents with another layer of protection from the mentally ill (and criminal)."

teatime: It's not the instrument of destruction...it's the heart/mind of the person. Tim McVeigh, the Unabomber, and the 9/11 terrorists didn't fire a single shot...but they all killed a lot of innocents.
Below is yet another example that it's not the instrument; it's the heart/mind:
China School Attack

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 4:48pm
@Earl Grey: McVeigh and the Unabomber used bombs, therefore bombs are against the law. The 9/11 terrorists used box-cutters to hijack the planes, therefore box-cutters are banned on airplanes.

The Connecticut gunman used an assault rifle, therefore...

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Dec 17, 2012 6:34pm
EarlGrey: This is the sort of thing that makes fixing these types of problems more difficult, privacy issues, a person's right to be left alone, just as a person's right to own a gun/rifle, etc.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 7:11pm
The first thing that I've noticed here is that Nancy Lanza lived in fear rather than faith. Now, I'm not against what is said in the "make a kit, make a plan" PSA's often played on WDEL and other stations, but she was way over the top. Usually this type of person will move out to some remote mountain area in rural Montana rather than in a Connecticut town not that far removed from New York City and Boston. Ms. Lanza's fear cost her and a whole lot of other people their lives. Having seen several pictures of Adam Lanza on Google images, it's brazenly obvious that he was a most disturbed individual. There's no doubt in my mind he was demon-possessed and had been so for at least half his life.
I sure as hell wouldn't have guns in the house if somebody like that was living there.

The only gun-control that would have prevented this situation would have been her individual decision not to have them. Regulate all you want - the cat's already out of the bag.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 10:36pm
FYI teatime, bomb-making was illegal before McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski...and I'm pretty sure it's still against the law to hijack planes and crash them. It's the evil in the hearts of these people and not the tools (legal or illegal) used to kill.

This goes all the way back to Adam and Eve...the first human born was also the first human to commit murder.

Let's stop focusing on guns and get to the root of the problem...how to treat mentally-disturbed individuals before they commit these horrendous acts.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 2:52am
It was very interesting to come to this conversation late and look down the entire thread. Here is how I see the framing of the argument of 2013, being set up.

The Right-To-Bear-Arms crowd, (RTBA, it's now being called in shorthand) is upset because of the possibility that this freak incident will shut-down their entire operation. All of us with children keep our guns locked-up; most likely hers were too. But no parent anticipates his/her child will kill to get to the guns... That is the one-in-a-million chance that something like this could ever happen again. The gun advocates see, because of the huge emotional backlash from burying children's bodies, the NRA is finished. FINISHED. And it was over something so rare, so random, so unfathomable. It is simply not fair to take-away guns because of a rare freak event. Put in perspective, how would any of us feel if our cars were outlawed and taken from us, because a car rammed the Presidential limo killing all those inside... That is the perspective of the gun advocates....

The Gun Controllers can rightly point to repetitive incidents and say this is not an aberration; this is the norm. Granted that fact is on their side. To their credit, they can say that when it happened the first time, we as a nation did nothing. When it happened the second time, we did nothing. When it happened the third time, we did nothing. So what do you think will happen the fifth time? If we do nothing now?

They have a valid point. Guns will kill as long as we have no control over them...

Now... when you have an event this big, everyone has an opinion and all of them throw it out. Particularly this early in the debate, as in a primary, as people think of things, without vetting, they put them out to the media to score points for "their side."... If the person is smart, they put smart options on the table. If the person is dumb, they put dumb options on the table. By simple math, half of our population is smarter than average, and half of our population is dumber than average... That is the definition of average. So both categories on both sides are all offering opinions right now, and their opponents whomever they may be, are using the dumber half of opinions to discredit the whole other side.....

I have seen good ideas for change being offered up by both sides. I will leave the dumber ones alone, because since they won't work, the only reason for mentioning them at all, is to give everyone a huge laugh...

When you have two opposing sides hammering out an agreement, you don't settle it immediately by proposing the perfect option. Instead, first one side offers, then receives a counter-offer, etc., until eventually an agreement is formed....

Because of emotion, the closer the legislation is introduced to the time of the murders, the better the chance the Gun Controllers will have the upper hand. The further into the future that legislation gets pushed, the RTBA group, counterbalances with rational versus the emotional arguments coming from the other side....

Tea Time put it the best I've seen in all my readings since Friday. I'll change it up a little to cover Earl Grey's response... When fertilizer bombs blew up Oklahoma, we regulated fertilizer... When box-cutters caused 9/11, we regulated everything that could or could not go on an airplane. When the shoe-bomber tried to take one down, we regulated the taking-off of one's shoes in order to get onto a plane. So, when assault rifles create a bloodbath, what should we regulate....

That drives the point home. Assault rifles will be regulated this time around... In my reading, I saw on one of the lists showing all the mass-killings, that during the 10 years of the Brady Bill's implementation, no assault rifles were used for mass killings. The loss of life at each event was lower too. Upon the expiration of the Brady Bill, the assault rifles jumped back into the number one choice of mass murders...

I venture that the Brady Bill will be reinstated. I foresee that the mega-clips will be outlawed as well. I foresee a doctor's certification that you may own a gun based on the stability of your mental functions. I foresee some handguns being banned for Wilmington's sake at the same time. I see buying and selling of guns by "approved" license dealers. I foresee a license being required for the privilege of owning an firearm, that includes testing, both written and actual firing... There may be additional items tacked on, but I can't see that far ahead in my Crystal ball...

None of these would have prevented the Newtown shooting, I want to make clear. But having these laws on the books, means that the aberrations if there are any, are even that more apparent. If you remember with airplanes, there were repeated attempts to bring down more planes, often done with ingenuity and simple products. But, because we have systems in place, we were able to rule out all those other things, and only because our awareness was good, so we luckily caught them.

That is the legislation I see passing in a year and a quarter. It should be signed by April 2014.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 3:48am
Let's don't forget there was a similar massacre in an Amish school in Lancaster County in 2006. The only difference is there were only 5 fatalities rather than the 27 or 28 here.

Interestingly, the police were already there when the shooting began.

It would be nice if we could pass and enforce a law banning deranged individuals from committing crimes, but since we don't seem to know who those people are until they actually do the deed, it would only be symbolic.

Maybe the assault weapons ban would reduce the number of casualties in a similar incident, but would probably not prevent the incident altogether. In addition, it wouldn't stop the assault weapons that are already out there. But perhaps it's worth a try.

Allan Loudell
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 5:52am
I find it interesting you guys actually seem to have found a partial consensus... more than I might have expected.

Incidentally, Nancy Lanza reportedly confided to a friend that she was considering moving to Washington state with her son, apparently for a particular school.

If she was thinking of moving not to Seattle or Olympia but to that swath of eastern Washington state near Idaho, that of course is a hotbed for survivalists, etc.

Allan Loudell

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 8:56am
Someone correct me if I'm wrong (there have been so many versions of this story it's hard to know what's true what's false) but my understanding was that the evil killing was carried out with 2 handguns and the semi-auto rifle was left in the parking lot in the dead mom's car. If this is true, then why place blame on that weapon & not the ones used?

Yes, we could bring back the automatic weapons ban. But are you going to eliminate everything an evil person could possible use to harm others? So, no more propane tanks, no gasoline, no matches, no natural gas appliances/heaters, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I do agree that this woman SHOULD NOT have had guns in her house (even if they were all in a safe) with her seriously disturbed son living there. I also think she needed help to "institute" her disturbed son.

Maybe the Washington school Mr. Loudell mentioned could have helped Adam...and maybe the fear of a new school and moving away is what set him off.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 9:10am
Mr. Loudell...do you think there is a way to reign in all the incorrect reporting we see these days as news organizations race to get the story out first, regardless of vetted facts? One would think that these news outlets would lose credibility for getting so many things wrong...yet they don't. We are given many excuses as to why they pushed out the unvetted story but no one is ever held accountable. What would have happened if something horrible had happened to the innocent brother Ryan? He was the one originally reported to have been the killer...then it was reported that he was spotted in a field outside the school wearing camo.

Is there any journalistic rule that would help reign in this sloppy reporting simply to get the first story? Truth and facts should not be forced to the backseat.

Allan Loudell
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 9:10am
Mr. Grey---

My understanding is Adam Lanza used a military-style, Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on his killing spree...

As for the reporting, we've come a long way from when the major traditional networks devoted most of their money, resources, and energy to a half-hour evening newscast. Copy could be reviewed and rewritten; accounts debated, etc.
One of my journalism professors at the University of Illinois (Mervin Block) had written for the big network anchors (Cronkite, Rather, Brokaw, & Wallace). He had all day, in some cases, to write and re-write scripts, craft everything so precisely. That era has been over for some time.

Even then, though, people debated the slant and portrayal of stories, for example, what the Tet offensive in Vietnam represented.

And when the traditional networks went into continuous coverage (i.e., a Presidential assassination attempt), they got things wrong. The late Frank Reynolds at ABC had an outburst on-air over the accuracy of information during the Reagan assassination attempt. Reynolds' key meltdown occurred when all three networks reported - erroneously - that White House Press Secretary James Brady, a friend of Reynolds, had died from the head wound he received in the attempted assassination of the President. Another report arrived that Mr. Reagan himself had died... the precise opposite of initial reports that the President himself had NOT been injured. Reynolds' famous meltdown on-air: "Let's get it nailed down... somebody... let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!"

The current 24--7 era of news coverage makes mistakes inevitable. The public wants continuing coverage. News sources will report what they get. How was anyone to know, initially, that the brothers' names had been switched?

Credibility is important, but ratings and hits mean revenue. If stations or networks hold back everything as they seek absolute corroboration, viewers/listeners/readers will migrate to the Internet. Many already do looking for information not necessarily immediately available on the air. The Associated Press - as the wire service of record - sometimes runs slow as it attempts to fact-check. But then sometimes, subscribing newspapers and stations complain the AP is running behind other sources. It's a dilemma.

Friday afternoon, as events were still unfolding, CBS News passed word to affiliates that the mother had been found slain in the house... NOT the school. One source. The AP didn't immediately run that. I didn't sit on the news. I passed that on-the-air even though, for several hours, we had heard the mother had apparently been killed at the elementary school.

Allan Loudell

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 9:37am
Thanks for that update Mr. Loudell. I understand reporters only report what they are given...and I know we all want to know immediately but once something is reported (true or false) that info will continue to be spread by other 24/7 news outlets.

and...one more point on the AWB. It was still in effect when Columbine happened.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 1:42pm

On your show Monday you had a guest, I believe from Rutgers, whose speaker volume was on the low end, and I was near the outer extremities of your broadcast area, so I could hear your questions, but I missed most of what he said. But I think I heard that he said something about the impact of carrying guns in school would have upon children in school. I wish I could have heard the whole thing. Is that still possible to put up in a pod cast?

Allan Loudell
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 2:57pm
It was kind of soft -- even for the podcast.

I'll see if we can do it tomorrow...

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