Authorities have released substantial records on two killers, Jared Loughner, who killed several people in 2011, as well as wounding then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., school last December. What has been learned is evidence enough that increased study is needed in finding a link between mental illness and an individual's potential for gun violence.
In the Loughner case, his parents recognized signs that their son could be prone to violence, but they did not seek mental evaluations for him. In the Lanza case, there's no evidence that his mother, Nancy, who Lanza killed before his attack at the school, recognized her son was a threat.
Lanza was considered a loner. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, he has been described as a reclusive type who spent hours playing violent video games. His mother encouraged his interest in weapons. Both were avid shooters and had received National Rifle Association certificates.
In the Lanza home, police recovered 165 items, including a picture of a bloody dead body, a news clipping of a previous school shooting, 1,700-plus rounds of ammunition, rifles, pistols, knives, spears, a pole weapon and swords.
Hindsight is 20-20. We can only guess at what Nancy Lanza may have suspected about her socially awkward son who presumably she loved and wanted to protect. We can't know definitively if she deliberately ignored warning signs. However, as a society, we need to examine Adam Lanza's lonely, twisted world, and learn from it. We need to spot warning signs that could lead to mass murder. The killers at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and others, clearly displayed signs of disturbing, anti-social behavior.
Spotting this kind of behavior and making sure that mental treatment is offered is not an acknowledgment that every troubled individual is a potential killer. The vast majority don't turn into an Adam Lanza or a Jared Loughner. But it shouldn't be difficult to spot the red flags in troubled individuals that led to mass murder in some cases. Help these people, and the least accomplished is that they benefit. The best accomplished is that the horrors of Virginia Tech, Newtown and Aurora are spared for many others.