Connecticut Mental Health Bill Defeated Months Before Deadly School Shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – As the national discussion on mental health continues following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 27 people, a recent mental health bill that was defeated in Connecticut may have helped in keeping Adam Lanza away.

Before Friday’s heinous act, there was talk in Connecticut’s state legislature to beef up the state’s “assisted outpatient treatment” law, according to Connecticut Senate Bill 452 was proposed in February “to enhance the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disabilities in both inpatient and outpatient settings.” But the bill was defeated in March, with opposition calling it “outrageously discriminatory.” The ACLU said the bill would “infringe on patients’ privacy rights by expanding [the circle of] who can medicate individuals without their consent.”

Had the AOT bill been passed, it would have given the state the right to institutionalize a person who is mentally ill for treatment if the state has enough evidence to believe that the person could be a danger to himself or the community.

The revelation comes as the nation mourns the victims of the elementary-school shooting in Newtown.

Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation. Authorities said he had no criminal history.

Asked at a news conference whether Lanza had left any emails or other writings that might explain the rampage, state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found “very good evidence” and hoped it would answer questions about the gunman’s motives. Vance would not elaborate.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that investigators have found no note or manifesto of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages.

Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy Lanza, lived in a well-to-do part of prosperous Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.

His parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., and works as a tax director for GE.

The gunman’s aunt Marsha Lanza, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.

“Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality,” Marsha Lanza said, adding her husband had seen Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary.

Catherine Urso, of Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer. “He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.

Lanza attended Newtown High School, and several news clippings from recent years mention his name among the honor roll students.

Joshua Milas, who graduated from Newtown High in 2009 and belonged to the school technology club with him, said that Lanza was generally a happy person but that he hadn’t seen him in a few years.

“We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart,” Joshua Milas said. “He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius.”

The mass shooting is one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and among school attacks is second in victims only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 people dead, including the gunman.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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