Connecticut’s top medical examiner wants to analyze the DNA of Adam Lanza in an attempt to learn more about what may have caused him to do what he did.
The 20-year-old was responsible for the Newtown, Conn., school massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead; he also killed his mother and himself.
The University of Connecticut genetics lab has offered to help analyze Lanza’s DNA, but the goal is not to find a single diagnostic gene tied to violence.
According to Arthur Caplan, head of NYU’s Bioethics Division, “a particular DNA message may indicate a propensity to behavior, but at best you might find associations to greater risk.”
Whether or not Lanza possessed a so-called “warrior gene” that has become associated with psychopaths, there likely won’t be a clear answer here.
Scientists are only beginning to understand the correlation between genes and behavior, and it takes more than a genetic predisposition to make someone violent.
“… There are some abnormalities that are related to aggressive behavior,” said Dr. Arthur Beaudet, chairman of Baylor College of Medicine’s department of molecular and human genetics.
Those analyzing Adam Lanza‘s DNA “might look for mutations … associated with mental illnesses and ones that might also increase the risk for violence.”
“I don’t think any one of these mutations would explain all of (the mass shooters), but some would have mutations that might be causing both schizophrenia and related violent behavior.”
“I think we could learn more about it, and we should learn more about it.”
Lanza’s motive remains very much unclear, although some have suggested a fear of being committed may have driven him to this extreme end.
In any case, research can only help as science and medicine strive to learn more about and hopefully prevent further atrocities like we saw in Newtown.