There are a number of things we think we know about Adam Lanza, the Newtown, Connecticut 20-year-old, who last Friday murdered his mother, then shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first-graders and six adults before turning a gun on himself.
We’ve been told, by a former classmate, that he was “weird.” We’ve been told, by a family friend, that he played a lot of violent video games. And we’ve also been told by such sources that he had a “developmental disorder,” that some say was Asperger’s Syndrome.
From this, a narrative has emerged of a troubled young man, induced into violence by his preferred choice of media, and failed by an inadequate mental health system. This narrative has caught on so successfully that, as of Wednesday, a Gallup poll found far more Americans believing that events like the Newtown tragedy could be avoided through increased federal spending on mental health screening and services than by banning the sale of assault weapons.The above excerpt was originally published in TIME.