Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, has raised the possibility of requesting genetic tests on Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Carver hasn’t said precisely what he may want geneticists to look for, but scientists who study the links between genes and violence say those tests won’t reveal much about why Lanza did what he did.
Ellen Wright Clayton, a specialist in law and genetics at Vanderbilt University, says there aren’t many possibilities. “The only thing they can be looking for here is to see whether the killer had certain genetic variants that may predispose to mental illness or to violence,” she says.
Scientists have spent decades studying these genetic variants. But can a person’s genes reveal why they commit mass murder?
“Absolutely not,” Clayton says. “Genetic variants do not explain criminal behavior.”
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