This story was published on VOX.
By Mahmood Thompson
When I heard the news about the Dec. 14 elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn. after Friday services, I felt sick to my stomach. Twenty-six innocent children dead. This was a slaughter so big, so disgusting that it makes you wonder what is wrong with this world. The pain felt so much more real after I saw the little faces who had their whole future in front of them! Anger and sadness overwhelmed me for 30 complete minutes. Why God, Why!
Then the TV informed me, “News reports are coming in that the shooter had enough ammo to kill every person in the school.” It annoys me when the National Rifle Association and its nefarious goons oppose stricter gun laws. Their rationale? “You can kill people with anything, so it’s stupid to outlaw guns.” Really? With this line of common sense, I should be able to buy a tank and a predator drone. With an assault rifle, you can fire off more than 800 bullets per minute and shoot from over 300 yards. Unless you're a soldier, why do you need an assault rifle for anything?
Violence is everywhere, in video games, police brutality, teens being constantly bullied, gay people in Atlanta getting jumped in videos posted on YouTube and the daily killings over in the Middle East. Too many of us are falling into this violence trap. We've become too desensitized to violence with all of this constant news droning on about rape, murder, stealing and beheadings. It is sickening even for a normal mind, now enter the mind of the shooter.
Many people are making assumptions that the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza was someone bad, a skinhead or a psychopath. But none of these truly describe who he was. According to reports on MSNBC and CNN, he was a shy teen with Asperger's syndrome who never got into trouble with the law and was home-schooled most of his life. News reports tell us he entered high school but was removed because his parents and school officials were worried others would pose a threat to him. He never looked people in the eye and rarely talked to his peers. He went to college and took some courses but, sadly, he dropped out and took up shooting as a hobby.
As someone diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in 2010, and as a teen like Adam, who has struggled in school and was home-schooled, these reports worried me. Especially when the news reports try to equate Asperger's with a mental illness that can result in violence with 20-plus little kids being shot to death. Asperger's is a mild form of autism. There is no medical evidence to link autism or Asperger's with violent behavior. Before her son killed her, Adam's mom characterized him as someone who had serious mental problems.
Police and mental health experts remain bewildered by this case and we may never know exactly why he did it. But several things are certain to me: We need stricter gun laws, we need to counter bullying and we need to reach out to those mentally and emotionally far away people with serious problems like Adam. We also need to distance ourselves from the violence all around us.