Nancy Lanza: A Mother, a Gun Enthusiast and the First Victim

As the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting story continues to unfold, we learn tonight that Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter, Adam Lanza, was a gun enthusiast.

Nancy Lanza loved guns, and often took her sons to one of the shooting ranges here in the suburbs northeast of New York City, where there is an active community of gun enthusiasts, her friends said. At a local bar, she sometimes talked about her gun collection.

Why am I not surprised… Because in America we have glorified violence and made guns easier to obtain in some states than a driver’s license. Because gun enthusiasts are so absorbed with their top lobbying group that they fail to listen to reason or common sense.

New York Daily News Photo

New York Daily News Photo

One of Nancy Lanza’s own precious guns “was apparently used to take her life on Friday,” and her “killer was her son Adam Lanza,” who she raised in the culture of guns. 

Adam Lanza, 20, drove to himself to Sandy Hook Elementary School after murdering his mother, where “he killed 26 more people, 20 of them small children, before shooting himself, the authorities said.”

Ms. Lanza’s fascination with guns became an important focus of attention on Saturday as investigators tried to determine what caused Mr. Lanza to carry out one of the worst massacres in the nation’s history.

Investigators have linked Ms. Lanza to five weapons: two powerful handguns, two traditional hunting rifles and a semiautomatic rifle that is similar to weapons used by troops in Afghanistan. Her son took the two handguns and the semiautomatic rifle to the school. Law enforcement officials said they believed the guns were acquired legally and were registered.

Ms. Lanza, 52, had gone through a divorce in 2008 and was described by friends as social and generous to strangers, but also high-strung, as if she were holding herself together. She lived in a large Colonial home here with Adam Lanza, and had struggled to help him cope with a developmental disorder that often left him reserved and withdrawn, according to relatives, friends and former classmates.

Nancy Lanza grew up in small town Kingston, New Hampshire, where her brother is a retired cop. Lanza’s brother James Champion was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday night, he “would not discuss whether Adam Lanza had a developmental disorder or mental illness.”

Although it was initially reported that Nancy Lanza worked at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the school superintendent said Saturday “there was no evidence that she had ever worked there,” leaving authorities unclear as to why Adam Lanza had gone to the school and taken so many innocent lives.

An acquaintance, Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping company in Newtown, told NY Times reports that Ms. Lanza “often went to a local restaurant and music spot, My Place, where at beer tastings on Tuesday evenings, she sometimes talked about her gun collection.”

She had several different guns,” Mr. Holmes said. “I don’t know how many. She would go target shooting with her kids.”

And NBC News reports that Mr. Holmes said, “She had a pretty extensive gun collection,” Holmes said. “She was a collector, she was pretty proud of that. She always mentioned that she really loved the act of shooting.”

Holmes recalled that she said she was able to “focus in” while shooting.

People who knew Ms. Lanza “were at a loss to describe what she did for a living,” though her brother in Kingston, New Hampshire said “she had not been working, but had once been a stockbroker.”

Louise Tambascio, owner of My Place, said Ms. Lanza volunteered occasionally.

“She stayed with Adam,” Ms. Tambascio said, adding that, as a younger child, he “couldn’t get along with the kids in school.”

I simply can not fathom why a woman with a troubled son living with her kept guns in her home. It makes no sense. No sense at all. But then nothing about this horrific tragedy makes any sense at all and as we’ve seen over the past 24 – 36 hours the more time that passes the more twisted it gets.

President Obama is scheduled to “meet with families of the victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and to thank first responders” on Sunday. I hope these family members let him know that they are ready to have the discussion about gun control now.

Innocent little children have lost their lives in a horrific massacre that might have been prevented, save for the fascination with guns that the killers mother had. She taught him how to shoot, and he turned her own gun on her and then after committing that one unfathomable sin, he drove drove the road and took more lives in a most brutal fashion, again using his mother’s guns.

We can no longer put this issue on hold. We can no longer be bullied by the NRA. We must change the laws in America now. It’s not about taking away all the guns. We just can’t stand by and watch another tragic mass murder happen and go about our business. We just can’t. Enough is enough.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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