Opinion

A Recipe For Mass Murder

What drives boys and men to monstrosities, massacres and mass murder?

By Kevin Somers
Published November 21, 2019

On December 20, 2012, a troubled 20-year-old shot his sleeping mother in the face four times, drove to Sandy Hook Elementary school, slaughtered six women and 20 children aged six and seven, then killed himself.  

What drives boys and men to monstrosities, massacres and mass murder?  

The inordinately affluent, dysfunctional family of the Sandy Hook shooter have been put under a microscope and the whole world should see it.  The Office of The Child Advocate in Connecticut said of the shooter, "his severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems ... combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence ... [and] access to deadly weapons ... proved a recipe for mass murder."

Millions of parents try following a recipe hoping to create the next Mozart, Gretzky, Gates or Einstein. Few are that successful, but their children, ideally, have learned discipline, developed a work ethic, and fallen in love with something in the process.

If you want to make a mass murderer, get the Sandy Hook shooter's family cookbook and follow their recipe to a tee.

The boy was disadvantaged right out of the gate.  He was on the autism spectrum and had OCD, anxiety, and depression. As well, he was anorexic, germophobic, universally ostracized, and obsessed with violence.  His biggest challenge, however, was his parents.

With better circumstances, he and his victims may have been saved.  Raising the child was challenging, no doubt, but his problems were exacerbated by home life. Father was distant, then absent; Mother was pampering and pandering.

His parents brought him to many specialists, hospitals, and schools.  It seems they were looking for an instant cure, silver bullet, magic potion to fix their son, which was impossible. They never followed through on therapy, or medication, always giving in to a child.

Overly indulged children are not happy.  They don't know it, but children want, need, and crave structure, rules, order, and learning.  Children thrive when they are challenged, encouraged, and taught that life is hard, but working harder sets you free.

Discipline is the key to life. There is no joy without it.

The Sandy Hook shooter, who got whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it, was miserable and simmering with rage. His first victim was his mother.

He was born in 1992 and his parents separated in 2001, when he was nine. His father, a successful accountant, was living with his second wife in Manhattan at the time of the massacre.  When he died, the young mass murderer had not seen his father or older brother in years. Dad didn't talk to his son, just sent money.

The shooter lived with his mother, but by the end, they mostly communicated via email.  He no longer went to school and didn't work. He stayed in his basement all day, every day, playing violent video games and researching massacres.  

Had anyone taken an interest, they would easily have seen his dangerous preoccupation.  In school and at home, he wrote fantasy stories about violence. In his bedroom, he spent years creating a spreadsheet of hundreds of mass murders and the weapons used to commit them.

In the last months of his life, his only real human connection was going to a shooting range with his gun-loving mother, who had legally, wantonly, gratuitously, gluttonously purchased pistols, rifles, and ammunition; amassing a home arsenal Pablo Escobar would have admired.  

Mother allowed her profoundly disturbed, violent-minded, angry, undisciplined child unfettered access to the cache. The young man was a well-armed, well-trained killer, dying to lash out.

He proved to be as proficient with real weapons as he was with video ones. In less than five minutes, he fired 156 bullets in the school.  All but two of his victims were shot multiple times.

After years of silence, the young man's father spoke to The New Yorker in 2014. Wracked with guilt and shame, the father reveals he wishes his son had never been born.

But he was.

Now his son, twenty sweet little kids and six brave women from Sandy Hook Elementary School are dead.  

Whose fault is that?

The Chicken Comes Home To Shoot

There was always a roof right over my head
I was well-dressed and, indeed, overfed
But, my childhood was not exactly ideal
You brought me up as though I were veal

At that time in your history
I wasn't, at all, a priority
I was displaced by a precious career
It was power and money you really held dear

I came unto you at a terrible time
There were palms to grease and ladders to climb
So you bought me a gadget that looked like a gun
And taught me that slaughter is the best form of fun

I was left all alone like uncommon litter
With violent video games as my sitter
Tethered to screens, like a calf to a pole
I was dragged right into a dark violent hole

Before I was ten, I knew it was best
To put one in the brain after two in the chest
And you wonder why my mind is messed
I must say, dear Parents, I'm not impressed

Shooting, slashing, blasting, clashing, cutting, killing
I learned that murder is awfully thrilling
I spent all my youth with a big blinking screen
It seems, looking back, entirely mean

You raised me up in a freaky war zone
I was saving the world, but all on my own
I killed and I killed and I killed some more
It was, I was taught, it was how you keep score

Day after night and night after day
I swiveled my thumbs and you called it play
My body went soft and my brain of no use
Quite clearly that was a form of abuse

The kids at my school call me a freak
They say I am awkward, useless, and weak
They speak of me often, with so much to say
But, it was you, dear Parents, who made me this way

But, hey!

You bought me a pistol, without a trifle
Then another, then a rifle
I've fallen in love with the cold, killing steel
No longer virtual, these things are real

Now I am filled with requisite fuel
The rage and the means to shoot up my school
Mother and Father, from bad news to worst:
I am going to kill you two, first

Cluck cluck

Kevin Somers is a Hamilton writer.

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