Aurora, Colorado

Early Friday morning, during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, a young man opened fire on the audience with a rifle, a shotgun, and two pistols, killing 12 and injuring another 59.  The commentary I’ve read about it falls into two categories:

  • This is yet another example of why we need yet more gun control in this country.  Better yet, let’s ditch the Second Amendment and make them all illegal.
  • This event would not have been so deadly if there had been an armed person in the audience who could have shot back.  While it’s relatively easy to get a concealed carry permit in Colorado, the owners of the theatre designated it as a no-weapons area, effectively disarming the audience.

More practically, it’s doubtful that an armed spectator, unless he had military or police training, could have done much useful: the event took place while the movie was being shown, and the perpetrator had thrown a smoke grenade and was wearing body armor: it would not have been an easy shot.

As far as gun control. while massacres like this are relatively infrequent, the rate of homicide by firearm in the US is the highest in the industrialized world.  But the Second Amendment right to bear arms is one of our essential civil rights.  Perhaps gun violence has gotten to the point where it can be considered a public health issue.  But are we ready to say that we, as a country, are too stupid to be trusted with firearms?

Meanwhile, the event raises other questions:

  • The shooter, in addition to his weapons, was wearing full body armor and a gas mask.  Did he arm and equip himself, or did someone help him?
  • He surrendered to police, and then warned them that his apartment had been booby-trapped, an assertion that proved to be accurate.  Why would he tell the police that?  If he booby-trapped his own apartment, wouldn’t his intent be for the trap to be triggered when the police visited it?
  • The radio transcripts reported in the newspaper show that at least 15 minutes after the initial reports, the movie was still running.  In another time, a movie theatre would have a projectionist, who, in response to such a disturbance, would have stopped the show and turned up the house lights.  Or is it all done by machines?

7 thoughts on “Aurora, Colorado”

  1. This is a tragedy and both sides are using it to push their agenda. My opinion of guns is this, I don’t like them but we have the right to own guns, the Second Amendment.is clear on this. Also, the cities with high crime rates often have gun bans, like Chicago. In Chicago handguns are illegal but there is a high crime rate because the gangs still get guns. Who do you want to have guns, gangs or law abiding citizens?

  2. One of the first things reported about the shooter:

    “He is unemployed.”

    As if that makes him looney, cuckoo or an undesirable in itself. Great.

  3. Perhaps the transfer to digital media has made it possible to eliminate the reels of film, whcih required two or more projectors to show the movie. Projector 1 would be loaded with the first reel, and projector 2 would be loaded with the second reel. You can run the changeover from reel 1 to reel 2 on timers, but the reels have to be changed.

    Cans of film reels that I saw as recently as two years ago are as large as ever, arguing against this possibility.

    The question that I find myself asking is how he got all that stuff into the theater, unless he walked in fully dressed. Most theaters are so worried that you will attempt to smuggle in food that they want to check women’s purses or your backpack. Food is where they make their money, not from admission to the movie.

    This case reminds me of Sylvia Segrest, who shot a bunch of people at a Philadelphia-area shopping mall on October 30, 1985. She used a .22 caliber rifle and shot from the hip, so people didn’t get hurt to the xtent theat they could have had she picked a decent vantage point and shot at them. She’s still in jail. She also has schizophrenia, and got kicked out of the Army for it.

  4. Are we too stupid to be trusted with firearms? I can’t say that about everyone, but simply from watching how poorly many people drive, esp. ones with cellphone glued to their ears, I’d say many people should not be allowed to own guns, which, unlike cars, have no useful purpose other than harming others, once you eliminate target shooting and hunting. We are already too lax, in my opinion, about who we let drive large hunks of deadly steel, should make sense to be even more restrictive about who gets guns.

    The only rub is, who should be the authority that gets to approve or disapprove the individual for ownership? The other issue is straw man ownership, people buying a gun for someone else to actually own and use. My state now has a new law that mandates that everybody gets the right to a concealed carry permit. Before that they had to apply, show cause, and get approved by the sheriff of their county of residence. But the legislature caved to the Repubs and the gun lobby.

  5. Singing thinker, a straw purchase is buying a gun for someone who cannot purchase a gun legally. Depending on the state, this could include the mentally ill and convicted felons and the underage, and probably some other groups. If you buy a gun for someone who can legally own a gun, there is no offense. There is something about me that makes men want to give me guns, knives, and tools.

    How much does the concealed carry permit cost in your state? A substantial fee might be a more effective deterrent than anything else. Ithink that Colorado permits open carry except in the Denver area, subject to restrictions placed by the proprietor of a venue.

    What I worry about with allowing people to be armed in public when it might be advantageous to return fire is that gun owners who do not practice regularly are usually lousy shots. I know that the faster that I shoot, the less likely I am to put a round on target.

  6. He’s unemployed, and he’s introverted. Definitely trouble there!

    From what I read in the papers, he got a ticket and entered the theatre dressed normally, ducked out through an emergency exit, propped it open, went back to his car, and suited up.

    In NYC, there’s no such thing as a carry permit, concealed or otherwise. If you have a permit for your gun (used to be nearly impossible to get, now merely difficult), you can keep it at home. If you need to transport it somewhere, it and its ammunition must be in separate locked containers.

    I didn’t grow up with guns, and never really thought of arming myself even in the bad days of the early 1980s. The thought has crossed my mind now, as I watch everything turning to crap, but it isn’t a priority.

  7. Something has definitely gotten into the mix.

    When you heard about heinous murders years ago, they were once in a blue moon and they usually involved direct violence, usually strangling or stabbing: The Speck murders come to mind; so do the Kallinger murders in 1974 and Kitty Genovese in 1964. And in 1971, there was another mass murder in our area: the perp strangled his family and then took off. He left all the lights on in their house and a note — by the time the cops got involved and realized something was amiss in that house, the perp was long gone (he was caught years later; his second wife — who he met in church — saw his picture featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and turned him in)

    Guns never got involved until the mid-Seventies. The Son of Sam shot his victims; 20 years ago, the “Long Island Lolita” took a gun and decided to light up the wife of her lover. Years later, the woman still has many troubles related to the shooting.

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