Sandy Hook Shooting: One Year Later, Nation Still Struggles With Impact

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One year ago today, horror struck Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in such a way that the town, state and nation still struggle to grasp it.

The disturbing legacy of the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is so profound that it cannot hold just one meaning. Nor can it be easily reconciled.

Adam Lanza, a mentally ill 20-year-old recluse obsessed with school shootings, gunned down six adult women, 12 girls and eight boys in 11 minutes.

Before that, he killed his mother. After the rampage, he killed himself.

There was devastation. There was outrage. There was political rancor. There were even conspiracy theories (below). A year later, what has changed?

On this tragic anniversary, and under the shadow of a Colorado school shooting just yesterday, the debate over guns, mental health, healing, and humanity continues.

Whether the U.S. has reformed its gun laws after the Newtown massacre may depend on your point of view. Clearly, America affirms a right to bear arms.

President Barack Obama was unable to persuade Congress, as he vowed in Newtown's aftermath, to take meaningful action regarding gun reform.

Obama failed to even expand background checks, though he did strengthen many existing gun laws and take related steps on mental health and school safety.

Adam Lanza, 20, suffered mental health problems.

Many people, including his victims' parents, say society needs to better treat these severe problems to prevent another disturbed gunman committing a massacre.

In fact, to combat the stigma-loaded phrase of "mental illness," some wish to change it to something deeper or more organic like "brain health" or "brain illness."

Lanza was living with his mother, Nancy, 52, who ensured that her son received treatment, but also gave him access to semiautomatic weapons.

Before the violence, Lanza had become isolated.

His parents divorced in 2009. His father, Peter, remarried and moved to an area not far away. Their only other child, Ryan Lanza, 24, wasn't living in the mother's home.

Connecticut authorities' investigation concluded that Lanza "had significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others."

"What contribution this made to the shootings, if any, is unknown as mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his behavior."

In any case, families who lost a child in the mass shooting will never be the same. Even a year later, they still struggle to recover from the devastation.

Public comments by the families this weekend are unlikely, as several major news outlets, including CNN, agreed not to send reporters to Newtown.

The town of 27,000 people decided to raze Sandy Hook Elementary School. A new school will be built on the same site, a symbol of resurrection.

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