‘It doesn’t have to be understood to be real.’

Andrew Solomon:

Peter hadn’t seen his son for two years at the time of the Sandy Hook killings, and, even with hindsight, he doesn’t think that the catastrophe could have been predicted. But he constantly thinks about what he could have done differently and wishes he had pushed harder to see Adam. “Any variation on what I did and how my relationship was had to be good, because no outcome could be worse,” he said. Another time, he said, “You can’t get any more evil,” and added, “How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot.”

The further we get from the Sandy Hook Massacre, the less sure I feel that gun control laws are the appropriate response to trying to prevent something like it from ever happening again. And that isn’t to say that I don’t believe in gun control; my purely theoretical beliefs about guns would have second amendment supporters foaming at the mouth. But Solomon’s piece about Peter Lanza and his deeply damaged son tells a complex, nuanced tale about an ongoing struggle that, with the clarity of time spent reflecting and time spent away from the raw emotions, obviously could not have been easily solved by one action or even two or three. And not to be spoiler-y, but what Peter Lanza admits in the final paragraph of this piece—it cut me to the bone.

If you find the piece as compelling as I did, consider listening to the author on this week’s episode of The New Yorker Out Loud podcast—he goes into more detail about the interview process and discusses the themes and questions he raises.