Chapter List

The Sheltered Storm


The True Story of the Man-Made Disaster That Struck the Village of Sandy Hook, Connecticut on December 14, 2012

By Matthew Nolan




Prologue: Friday

Early on a Friday morning, in a pale yellow house at the top of a hill, a young man with a gun creeps into his mother’s bedroom, and puts his plan into action.

Part I: Over the Horizon

Chapter 1: The Shooter

Stockton, CA, 1989: A deranged wannabe-soldier attacks his old elementary school, using a rifle that soon becomes the focus of controversy

Chapter 2: Nancy

Nancy Champion’s upbringing in rural Kingston, New Hampshire, inspires her plans to start a family of her own with her high-school sweetheart, Peter Lanza.

Chapter 3: Assault Rifle

1989: California responds emphatically to the Stockton shooting. Shockwaves are felt in DC, in the gun industry, and in the NRA. President George HW Bush looks for a compromise.

Chapter 4: Human Animal

A deranged gunman attacks a Luby’s Cafeteria in Texas, setting a dark new record. Meanwhile, in DC, Congress reacts to the news mid-session — while debating a gun bill.

Chapter 5: Earth Day

Nancy’s troubled 2nd pregnancy leads to professional setbacks. But all concerns are secondary to the health of her young son: the boy who never wants to speak.

Chapter 6: Frontier

Nancy finds a friend in Marvin Lafontaine, and the Lanza boys join his scout troop. Nancy soon grows concerned, as her best efforts to socialize her son fail to bring him out of his shell.

Chapter 7: Dawn

Clinton takes office, and shortly signs the Brady Bill and Federal Assault Weapons Ban into law. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre shares his visions of a “final war.” Connecticut wrestles with banning guns, against its own economic interests.

Chapter 8: Shangri-La

The school-shooting phenomenon suddenly returns in the mid-1990’s, as an apocalyptic meme that picks up dark, new traits each time it passes from one alienated teenage boy to the next.

Chapter 9: Grand Adventure

Nancy has doubts about her marriage, but when her husband lands a dream job, it brings the opportunity of moving to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, where her son can attend a school with a golden reputation.

Chapter 10: Snowdrop

A demented former boy scout leader attacks an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996. The people of the United Kingdom respond, and gun culture in the UK is never the same.

Part II: Tide & Season

Chapter 11: The Village (a brief history of Newtown)

The settlement of Newtown appears in Connecticut in 1705, and grows throughout revolutions of faith, government, and industry, into the town that would greet the Lanza family.

Chapter 12: Yogananda

The Lanza family begins their new life in Sandy Hook, and Nancy’s 6-year-old son begins his public school experience, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Chapter 13: The Ghost in the Cabin

The authorities finally identify Ted Kaczynski as the mysterious “Unabomber,” and lock him away in Supermax — but not before spreading his “manifesto” far and wide

Chapter 14: Promised Land

Mayors across the US declare war on the gun industry, and in response, the country’s “other” gun lobby joins the fight: the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), from Newtown, Connecticut.

Chapter 15: Eagles Circle

Nancy sets down roots in Newtown, and reconnects with Marvin by email. One night, a passing comment about President Clinton sets her off.

Chapter 16: Revolution

In April 1999, two teenagers from Littleton, Colorado bring “Judgment Day” to Columbine High School.

Chapter 17: Cascade

As Newtown reacts to the Columbine attack, the facts of the event already start to blur with myth. Meanwhile, Nancy Lanza shares a shocking secret about her health.

Chapter 18: Wave of Evil

A month after Columbine, the nation’s political machinery struggles to close the “Gun Show Loophole.” But the copycat shootings have already begun.

Chapter 19: Radar

The FBI’s profilers take on a seemingly impossible task: the “profile” for a school shooter. When the Secret Service looks into the phenomenon, their agents sense something familiar.

Chapter 20: Distortion

The real secret about Nancy Lanza’s health turns out to be darker than anything she’s told even her closest friends.

Chapter 21: Basement Tapes

In late 1999, the Columbine shooters’ messages from beyond the grave are revealed, and their contents shatter myths about “NBK.” Meanwhile, Nancy’s son’s development continues to falter at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Chapter 22: Smart Guns

The “Million Mom March” makes gun rights a major focus of the 2000 election. When the votes are finally counted in the controversial contest, the NRA and NSSF celebrate their candidate’s victory.

Chapter 23: The Ghost in the Cage

Inside Supermax, the Unabomber shares philosophy with Tim McVeigh. In Newtown, Nancy’s son struggles through 4th grade. On 9/11, the world changes, just before Lanzas fall apart.

Part III: Thin Air

Chapter 24: The Hospital (a brief history of Fairfield State Hospital)

From the 1930’s to the 1990’s, the rise and fall of the nation’s state-run mental health care system is seen through the history of Fairfield State Hospital, in Newtown.