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Reason Magazine looks at State’s Attorney’s Report from Sandy Hook

The March 2014 print issue of Reason features a story entitled Mass Murder Myths. In it senior Reason magazine editor Jacob Sullum looks at Danbury State’s Attorney Steven Sedensky’s report on the mass murder perpetrated at Sandy Hook by Adam Lanza. Sullivan compares some of the editorial commentary of the time with what is revealed in Sedensky’s report and contrasts the sometimes inaccurate, almost universally hyperbolic media coverage with the State’s Attorney’s actual conclusions.

Not surprisingly, much of what is in the report details significantly from what journalists previously reported in publications like the New York Post and New York Times. Much of the latter was, if not inaccurate, then at least incomplete. Some of it would seem to be willfully obtuse. For instance, many stories alleged Lanza was an avid player of such violent FPS (first person shooter) games as Call of Duty, ghoulishly positing that this might have been a factor in his crime. According to the report, however, he was extremely enthusiastic about the games Super Mario Brothers and Dance Dance Revolution. This gross variance does nothing whatsoever to explain or mitigate what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but it is certainly a cautionary tale where putting stock in the media is concerned. It should also be taken into account when reckoning public opinion or attempting to find legitimate answers somewhere in the noise and confusion of a nationally emotional event.

Another key point is how the report addresses mental health. “Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior,” the report says. “Investigators have not discovered any evidence that the shooter voiced or gave any indication to others that he intended to commit such a crime.”

Of perhaps greatest interest to RECOIL readers will be the direct weapon correlation (or lack thereof) to gun control measures. Excerpted from the article:

Lanza did not have the sort of psychiatric (or criminal) history that would have disqualified him from owning firearms, which is one reason strengthening the background check system for gun buyers makes no sense as a response to the Sandy Hook massacre. Another reason: “All of the firearms were legally purchased by the shooter’s mother.” Connecticut has since banned the rifle Lanza used, a Bushmaster XM-15-E2S. But the ban does not apply to guns owned before it took effect, and equally lethal weapons remain legal.

Connecticut’s new 10-round limit on magazines likewise exempts equipment already in circulation. Even if it didn’t, the limit’s relevance to Lanza’s attack is debatable.

Read the article in its entirety here.

It is worth your time. Perhaps the summary therein will help ward off some future irrelevant argument or uninformed posturing. Maybe it will urge legislators (some of whom may actually be well meaning) to eschew platitudes and ineffective ‘feel good’ measures for genuine, practicable efforts. Every bit of energy we spend on impracticalities, however emotionally satisfying they might be to some, is energy denied to finding a real solution.

Reason Magazine looks at States Attorneys Report from Sandy Hook photo