Grief and outrage are universal reactions to the murder of the Sandy Hook students and teachers, but Adam Lanza's first victim—his mother, Nancy—is a trickier case, writes Joan Walsh at Salon. Snippets emerging about her, that she collected guns and may have been a survivalist, for example, have some questioning whether she was to blame in some way for her son's rampage. That seems unduly harsh at this point, but "from what little we do know, her story seems a cautionary tale about the way fear, unchecked, can unravel us," writes Walsh. "The things that scared and lonely people do to protect themselves so often do just the opposite."
The guns she bought for safety ended up killing her, for instance. And her decision to pull Adam from high school and home-school him might have removed him from the professional help he needed. At Slate, Amanda Marcotte asks that people neither demonize nor "quietly shun" Nanzy Lanza, "a woman who had her flaws as do we all, but who, from reports, sounds like she was well-liked by her friends and under a great deal of stress." Her murder at the hands of her son "should evoke the same deep well of empathy we have for anyone else who dies in needless violence." Read Marcotte's full column here and Walsh's here. (Read more Nancy Lanza stories.)