The absence of authoritative reports and data is the breeding ground of conspiracy theorists. No conspiracy theorists so far – though it may be best to keep quiet about this; you never know – has alleged that those who believe the earth is round are engaged in a vast conspiracy to subtly undermine the truth, which is that the earth is flat, as everyone can well see. For the professional conspiracy theorist, there is no point in doubting received truths of long standing.
Everything else is fair game.
Some early reports on the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary school were, at best, dubious. Multiple reports – particularly stories indicating the police had handcuffed a mysterious man in the woods surrounding the school – gave rise to suspicions that a second shooter was involved in the mayhem. There was no second shooter… we think.
We non-conspiracy theorists don’t know there was no second shooter because everyone in Connecticut who is not Governor Dannel Malloy or quick on the trigger legislators in Connecticut’s General Assembly is awaiting a final, definitive report on the slaughter from relevant authorities before he is is able, in a non-conspiratorial theorist manner, to draw hard and fast conclusion concerning what did and did not happen on the day Adam Lanza killed his mother, accessed her weaponry and shot to death 20 children and 6 adults at the school.
A long rifle was left in the car Mr. Lanza had stolen from his mother. What was the weapon? Very early reports suggested it might have been a Bushmaster rifle; later reports indicated it was a shotgun owned by Mrs. Lanza. Still later reports suggested that Mr. Lanza shot his way into the school with the Bushmaster, carrying with him two revolvers, one of which he used to commit suicide. So said media reports, but it is important to remember that investigators on the scene have not issued any official report. Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance has, it is true, given numerous media opportunities in the course of which he has released minimal information that would not compromise what he has called “an ongoing criminal investigation.”
That expression is used most often in prosecutable cases; no one wants to weaken the prosecution of alleged criminals. In the Sandy Hook case, Mr. Lanza cannot be prosecuted, because he is dead, having committed suicide after his appalling slaughter of school children and their wards.
The weapon left in the car, unidentified in early reports, gave rise to the supposition that Mr. Lanza had left the Bushmaster rifle in his mother’s stolen car. Unsupported factoids such as these are meat and potatoes to conspiracy theorists. But it is important to understand that such data is unsupported because relevant authorities – for whatever reason, good or bad – have chosen neither to affirm nor deny in a timely fashion the facts of the case in their possession.
The governor, as well as other politicians, has said many times that he and the General Assembly must produce legislation that would prevent future crimes of the sort committed by Mr. Lanza in Sandy Hook. In a media release given out two days after President Barrack Obama had addressed the nation on his proposals to mitigate gun violence, Mr. Malloy said, “In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again?”
Surely, one way to make sure Sandy Hook-like assaults on school children here and across the nation “never happen again” is to await definitive reports, eschew hazy suppositions of a kind made by conspiracy theorists on both sides of the National Rifle Association (NRA) barricades, and produce effective legislation that will answer the principal question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again?
Unfortunately --fortunately for conspiracy theorists -- even the final report is not likely to be definitive. Mr. Malloy has spurned any further updates from the Connecticut State Police, but Lieutenant Paul Vance traveled to Newtown in the last few days to update the parents of those slain by Mr. Lanza, some of whom wanted information concerning Mr. Lanza’s medical records.
Mr. Vance told the parents that he was prevented by law from releasing information concerning Mr. Lanza’s mental state: “A medical history doesn't die with an individual. It's our responsibility to abide by state law even when conducting an investigation."
To quote Mr. Mr. Bumble in Dickenson’s Oliver Twist, “If the law supposes that, the law is a (sic) ass — a idiot. If that's the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience -- by experience.”
Mr. Obama, Mr. Malloy and his friends in Connecticut’s Democratic dominated General Assembly, the architects and guardians of state law, may be of some help here: Change the law -- right now.
All medical information that is part of a formal police investigation should be released in final reports – especially in this case in which a mental disorder may be a cause of the crime and legislation affecting mental health bills are awaiting a final report. It is not clear at this point whether leading legislators realize that a law they've written makes it unlikely that they will receive timely information that should shape current legislation.
If legislators in writing their laws have blinded themselves to the truth, we can only wish upon them a few million conspiracy theorists to spur them in the right direction.