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?