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What Adam Lanza Took, and Didn’t Take, to Sandy Hook Elementary

Adam Lanza 2With the release of an investigative report by the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury in late November, we now have a clear picture of the firearms used by Adam Lanza in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012. We also have a clear picture of the weapons he left at home that terrible day. The difference in the two inventories is telling and belies disinformation frequently put out by the gun lobby about the lethality of different types of firearms.

Adam Lanza, of course, was extremely well versed in weapons, and had been shooting since age four. The Lanza home was a virtual arsenal, with guns and ammunition everywhere. Law enforcement even found a gun safe in Adam’s bedroom.

The following is a complete accounting of all the firearms, magazines, and ammunition that was available to Adam Lanza on December 14, 2012. All of this material had been legally purchased by Nancy Lanza.


Taken to Sandy Hook Elementary:

Izhmash Saiga 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun
Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle
Glock 20 10mm semiautomatic handgun
Sig Sauer P226 9mm semiautomatic handgun

Found in Lanza Home:

Savage Mark II bolt-action .22-caliber rifle
Enfield Albian bolt-action .323-caliber rifle
Volcanic .22-caliber starter pistol

Lanza Savage Rifle

The Savage Mark II bolt-action .22-caliber rifle that Adam Lanza used to kill his mother.


Taken to Sandy Hook Elementary:

Two 12-gauge shotgun magazines
10 30-round .223 magazines
6 30-round 9mm magazines
6 30-round 10mm magazines

Found in Lanza Home:

Clear plastic Ramline magazine for an AR-15
Three AGP Arms lnc. 12-gauge shotgun magazines (empty)
One Promag 20 round 12-gauge drum magazine
One MDArms 20 round 12-gauge drum magazine
Two AGP Arms lnc. 12-gauge shotgun magazines, taped together, each with 10 rounds
Surefire GunMag magazine with 8 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge 9 pellet buck
AGP Arms Inc. Gen 2 12-gauge shotgun magazine
Magazine with 10 rounds of .223-caliber bullets


Taken to Sandy Hook Elementary:

20 12-gauge shotgun rounds
301 rounds of .233-caliber ammunition
116 rounds of .9mm ammunition
90 rounds of 10mm ammunition

Lanza AR-15

The Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle that Adam Lanza used to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Found in Lanza Home:

Five Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells, cut open, with buckshot
White plastic bag containing 30 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells
Box with 20 Estate 12-gauge shotgun shells
Four boxes of SB buckshot 12-gauge, 40 rounds
Box of Lightfield 12-gauge slugs
Six “Winchester” 9 pellet buckshot shells (12-gauge)
Two Remington 12-gauge slugs
Winchester 12-gauge 9 pellet buck
10 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge 9 pellet buck
Planters can with numerous .22 and .45 caliber bullets
Wooden box with numerous rounds of Winchester .45-caliber bullets
Two boxes of PPU .45 caliber auto., 100 rounds
Box of “Fiocchi” .45-caliber auto with 48 rounds
Box of Magtech .45-caliber ACP with 30 rounds
Tan bag containing numerous Blazer .45-caliber bullets
Box containing 400 rounds of Winchester Wildcat .22-caliber bullets
Two boxes of .22-caliber long rifle Blazer, 100 rounds
80 rounds of CCI .22-caliber long rifle
31 .22-caliber rounds
Small plastic bag containing numerous .22 caliber bullets
Full box of Blazer .22 caliber long rifle, 50 rounds
Box of 20 Prvi Partizan .30-30 British rifle cartridges
Box of 20 Federal .303 British rifle cartridges
Box of PPU .303-caliber British cartridges with 9 rounds
Box of 20 rounds of Remington .223-caliber
Three Winchester .223-caliber rifle rounds
Six boxes of PMC .223-caliber, 20 rounds each
Three boxes of Blazer 40-caliber S&W, 150 rounds
Two boxes of Winchester 5.56mm, 40 rounds
Two boxes of Underwood 10mm auto, 100 rounds
Box of Underwood 10mm auto with 34 rounds
130 rounds of Lawman 9mm luger in 3 boxes
Box of miscellaneous 9mm rounds, 29 total
Two Win 9mm rounds
Small box of miscellaneous rounds

When Adam killed his sleeping, defenseless mother as she lay in bed, his choice of weapon was the Savage Mark II .22-caliber rifle, a bolt-action firearm that can accept a 10-round magazine.  When it came time to travel to Sandy Hook to commit mass murder—and potentially expose himself to harm from responding law enforcement—Lanza discarded the Savage rifle and turned to the Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a semiautomatic rifle that he equipped with 30-round magazines so as to cut down on the number of times he would have to reload.

All of the firearms Adam took to Sandy Hook were semiautomatic weapons with detachable ammunition magazines. As with his Bushmaster, Adam equipped his handguns with high-capacity 30-round magazines. Adam elected to leave his Saiga tactical shotgun on the passenger seat of his car, entering the school with just his Bushmaster rifle and handguns.

Left at home were the Lanza families bolt-action rifles, which lacked both the rate of fire and capacity necessary for mass murder.  Lanza also left numerous bladed weapons at home, including eight knives with a blade five inches in length or longer, a “six-foot-10-inch wooden-handled two-sided pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the opposite side,” and three samurai swords.

After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent claimed, “You could do more damage with a single shot or a bolt action because he had 20 minutes … His AR-15 Smith & Wesson rifle is now the most popular sporting rifle in America. It is the number one competition, number one in self-defense. It’s the number one sporting rifle for big game and small game. And if they keep calling it an ‘assault weapon,’ I may have that aneurysm.”  Nugent was wrong on several points.  For starters, the Aurora shooting lasted less than two minutes, and police arrived on the scene just 90 seconds after the first call.

But more importantly, despite the gun lobby’s best attempts at marketing, the AR-15 is not a “sporting rifle.” It is a weapons platform that was designed for battlefield use and marketed to militaries around the world for that purpose. The only functional difference between the civilian and military versions of the AR-15 is that the civilian version only fires in the semiautomatic position (and not on full-auto), but that is still a rapid rate of fire—as fast as you can repeatedly pull the trigger.

Mass shooters, of course, are aware of the rifle’s lethality. Adam Lanza, for his part, had complied a “doctoral thesis” of past mass shootings, complete with details on the firearms and magazines used in each incident. Mother Jones conducted an analysis of mass shootings that occurred between 1982 and 2012 and found that more than half of all mass shooters possessed high-capacity ammunition magazines, assault weapons or both.

As Americans, we can have a reasonable debate about the type of military-style hardware that belongs in civilian hands, and why. But that debate should involve an honest accounting of weapons used by mass murderers, which are becoming increasingly familiar.

Add your opinion

The Discussion

  • Chris: June 14, 2016 7:36 pm

    “Mother Jones conducted an analysis of mass shootings that occurred between 1982 and 2012 and found that more than half of all mass shooters possessed high-capacity ammunition magazines, assault weapons or both.

    As Americans, we can have a reasonable debate about the type of military-style hardware that belongs in civilian hands, and why. But that debate should involve an honest accounting of weapons used by mass murderers, which are becoming increasingly familiar.”

    I don’t see how that conclusion is reached. If almost half of mass shootings are not done with either ‘assault rifles’ or high capacity magazines, then no, I don’t see a familiar pattern.

    If you want to be real about what weapon is used by far the most in every type of shooting, including mass shootings, then you would have to say it’s pistols. Therefore I don’t understand the hardon for rifles? Pistols are doing the vast majority of shootings and mass shootings.

    This is a quote from the Mother Jones article you cite, I invite anyone reading this to google it and verify:

    “By far the most common weapons used in these cases are semi-automatic handguns—the type of weapon also at the heart of the daily gun violence plaguing American communities.” – Mother Jones

  • Stephen Stewart: February 5, 2015 9:57 am

    Putting the ‘assault weapons’ debate aside, doesn’t it infuriate you that his parents (I blame the rich divorced dad too) allowed him access to firearms in the first place. Really? The mother couldn’t come up with some other ‘hobby’ to engage her son. After all, money was no object as she was rich too. Speaking of money being no object, why didn’t she use it to buy her son the BEST mental health professionals to help deal with his problems? The rich father certainly knew what was going on in that house. If his exwife refused to get her son the proper mental health treatment then he should have petioned the courts to do so. Obviously he was content to let the ex deal with his troubled son any way she wanted to and just keep him locked away and out of his hair. Families of the deceased should all be going after his money as he was culpable too.

  • Jake: November 1, 2014 3:42 pm

    I own guns myself: A Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle, a Smith and Wesson 10 .38 revolver and a double barrelled shotgun. I have never needed an assault rifle. Sure, at the range they might be fun, but who cares. It’s want, not need, that lets people think they require them. As a hunter, I’m disgusted by others who hunt elk with assault rifles; I respect wildlife and only ever hunt with a single shot, otherwise I won’t pull the trigger. I would be happy to take a background check to buy another gun (which I won’t), and I engourage regulation of firearms to those with less than 10 rounds. My guns mean little to me; my children mean everything.

  • Pamela Valemont: May 23, 2014 1:01 am

    • I have just seen a picture on the Internet of Adam Lanza at one year of age or possibly younger, playing with a live gun, surrounded by an arsenal of weapons. His Dad now says he wishes he had never been born. I am sure Adam also wishes this now, in retrospect, that he had never been born, certainly not into that family. They, the crazy gun culture of America to which they ascribed and contributed, combined with the absence of tight gun laws in the USA are entirely responsible for this incredibly cruel tragedy.

    Adam Lanza and the Newtown Massacre ebook

  • ELizabeth June White: December 16, 2013 5:01 pm

    In my estimation, no one needs to have this kind of firepower in their home! These weapons were designed for military use, and that’s where they should stay… the military. Impressionable children, who are not mentally old enough to distinguish between Sylvester Stallone mowing down enemies in Vietnam and mowing down innocent children in grade school, should not have weapons this easily to hand. The line must be drawn somewhere….why can’t so-called intelligent elected officials see that? Are we still living in an era where men have to beat their chests in order to be considered men?

  • Mike: December 16, 2013 11:40 am

    Nancy Lanza was killed first to save her the embarrassment (see Ex-Marine Charles Joseph Whitman). He chose Sandy Hook because it was familiar. He killed the kids for the shock factor. Adam Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s, OCD, and a social disorder. Asperger’s is not a mental condition but is on the autism spectrum. OCD and a social disorder hardly qualify anyone as a serious mental patient. Adam Lanza planned out the entire massacre with a sound mind. Proof exists with the spreadsheets detailing many mass murderers, their choice of weapons, and the number of kills. His window were blotted out and the contractors made to be quiet because of sensory overloads. Sensory overloads are common with both Asperger’s and OCD. Millions of us struggle just fine and peacefully. Social disorders hardly qualify for anything beyond a mild sedative to ease anxiety. Lanza studied these murderers for more than 2 years, more proof of a sound mind. No laws nor any mental Dr’s would have stopped this tragedy.

    I can relate to Adam Lanza due to having been diagnosed with 3 of the same issues. I actually have 3 more diagnosis on top of Lanza’s. Lanza and I have much in common as far as the social issues and the Asperger’s, and I have also studied mass murderers for many years. The differences are, I researched into the why and have no fascination with the killings.

    Lanza carved out his own style, and much like James Holmes, the number of bodies was just as important as the shock value. He figured if he made it through 2 classrooms, his body count would be the highest. However, thankfully, many of these kids fled out of classrooms 9 and 10 as the shooting began. Lanza also felt like the community would forgive him in the end (see Lanza reading of Amish Grace). We should never forgive nor ever forget.

  • Suzanne Longo: December 15, 2013 5:22 pm

    It sounds like he was preparing for a war. Who needs all those guns and ammo in their house?

  • Pam: December 15, 2013 2:45 pm

    I find this arsenal of weapons, in the hands of one household, appalling. While I support the ‘2nd’, I do not at all support unfettered access to any and all, for any and all. I am heartened by seeing the truly responsible gun owners standing up and saying we must fix this. I am sickened by the soullessness of many who place their ‘convenience’ above literally the lives of many. While I don’t at all think that semi-automatic rifles belong in the hands of civilians, I recognize the responsible gun owners. So, if people want these, fine, make them Class III weapons, where the owners are well vetted. As to 30 round magazines, there is simply no reason for them. The use of lower capacity magazines creates the opportunity for a shooter to be interrupted and subdued, as we have seen previously. Morally, I cannot, do not, understand the mindset of those who want unfettered access to any and all, for any and all.

  • Marianna Drost: December 15, 2013 2:21 pm

    First I wish to state I believe in the second amendment, for the time and place it was written. I do not wish to debate others thinking on this, just to say no one wants to take your lawful hunting guns away. We need to take care of our mentally ill, yes. We need to be aware of the violent nature of society, do not glamorize violence, teach respect for others, love thy neighbor. All of these things are within our reach, for our own sake as well as for the children and teachers of Sandy Hook and all the others who have been murdered. Please, we as a nation are better than what is happening. Gun registration, back ground checks and what ever it would take to free us of this shame. God Bless America.

  • Peggy Schuber: December 12, 2013 6:22 pm

    Thank you, Mother Jones. We need more of this kind of information. Those of us outside of the “gun wor

  • Tom Yeager: December 12, 2013 12:31 pm

    It is disgusting how the “experts” in the NRA always lie and minimize the pain/damage and lethality of the guns they love more than the people who are shot with them.This was especially a stomach churning tactic when used about the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre…..Where each child-aged 6-7 was shot between 3 and 11 times……Those bullets clearly ripped those kids apart and left a scene behind that was so horrific veteran police and other first responders are on disability for PTSD…….Yet macho man Ted and his fellow assholes minimized the AR-15 as a “squirrel rifle” because that lie suited their purposes…….Since the NRA leadership lies so much so easily when it suits their purpose-lets have THEM be the test subjects for the Assault Rifles…….Have them tell us at what point bullets start to really hurt…

  • sue busch: December 12, 2013 11:16 am

    We need people to speak out – call your congressmen, write to your newspapers, VOTE! So much money from the NRA and other lobbyists, whose goal is only to sell more weapons and ammunition, flows into the coffers of politicians. So many phone calls/threats/intimidation are sent their way as well, that the folks we voted to represent US, end up representing only the very vocal minority of gun-lovers who want no restrictions at all, and every man woman and child to be armed.

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