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Dark Knight Theater Shooting: Does it Change Our View of Public Safety?

A discussion point since 9/11, will the mayhem at the Batman movie make us rethink security at movie theaters, malls or school events? Join the discussion.

At least 12 dead and dozens injured, several seriously.

One gunman and one crowded theater.

The specter of copycats.

Bay Area residents will awake Friday morning to live shots coming from Aurora, CO, where James Holmes, a young gunman reportedly wearing a gas mask and a bulletproof vest, opened fire during a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, a movie expected to gross $200 million this weekend.

The number of deaths and injured isn't confirmed. As information become available the figures could change up or down. But no matter what the final numbers are, there is one definitive: It's a tragedy.

Since the September 11 terror attacks of 2001, Americans have been on various levels of alert, but anyone with an ounce of cynicism has recognized that movie theaters, malls and school events—so-called soft targets because they are gathering locations with little security—are ripe for domestic terror or deranged madmen.

The Friday morning massacre at the Century 16 in Aurora took place 19 miles away from Columbine High, where a two teenagers killed 12 and injured dozens before killing themselves in April 1999.

All such events—not just the local ones—remind us of just how vulnerable we are.

And it brings with it the specter of copycats who think they can do it just a little better—or bigger.  

Do we keep the status quo and prove that we haven’t been beaten, or do we make changes because we want to see next year, want to see our kids get married and our grandkids grow up?

The incident Friday morning is likely to start a discussion—a very real, very serious discussion—about soft targets.

Let's start it here.

Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security, or will a thick dude in a yellow jacket be enough to stop someone carrying a gun who wants to get in with or without a ticket? Will there be no more dress-up at the theater, which apparently allowed the Aurora gunman to enter with a handgun, a rifle, a gas canister and a gas mask?

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below

Albert Rubio July 21, 2012 at 06:44 AM
The questions posed reflect the general obsession with terrorism and security in America (comment not directed at the author). To answer the questions posed, Changes should not be mandated. Every business needs to asses their needs and decide how much security to purchase and how to deploy it on an individual basis. Some will see a temporary need while others not at all. Security is something that can be contracted for in the voluntary market and does not need to be a monopoly of the government. The distressing event should underscore the practical need for many people to be able to defend themselves directly in such situations and not play into the gun control theory which leaves people to depend entirely upon police who clearly cannot prevent such acts.
Nadja Adolf July 21, 2012 at 05:03 PM
This attack occurred in an official "gun free zone." The attacker apparently bought a ticket, came in, opened a fire door, propped it open, went outside, dressed up, brought his weapons in, and proceeded to commit a spree killing. Before doing this, he booby-trapped his apartment to kill first responders and as many building residents as possible. Killers like this are not "mentally ill" as a rule - they are psychopathic. They plan exhaustively, and some, like Kip Kinkel, ask reporters and police who they think will play them in the movie. They can be very imaginative - Julio Gonzalex, the revenge killer at the Happy Land dance hall in the Bronx used gasoline and a book of matches to kill eighty-seven people; after setting the fire he went home and went to sleep. The solution to the problem is not to further stigmatize the mentally ill, nor is it to provide more defenseless victims for psychopaths. It is to recognize that evil exists, and to be willing to confront it. Had there been armed individuals within the theater, they could have slowed or even stopped this attacker - being shot while wearing body armor is an extremely painful experience. Anything that disrupts a revenge killers vengeance fantasy can derail their plan. Even lobbing shoes and purses at his head could have slowed his attack. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
ordinary joe July 22, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The questions posed reflect the general obsession with guns - the 800 lbs gorilla in the room which everybody pretends it is not there.
ordinary joe July 22, 2012 at 02:06 PM
The killer used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said. What is the need of a military-style semi-automatic rifle for a private citizen (except for incidents like this one)? Why it is so easy to go and by 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the name of self defense? Why is that the NRA is so quiet this week?
Nadja Adolf July 23, 2012 at 03:59 AM
The most notable thing about this crime is that like most mass murders committed with any means, it occurred in an official "gun free zone." Note the chemicals and components for explosives also ordered - some of which were apparently delivered to him on campus! From Happy Land in the Bronx, where 87 died from regular gasoline lit by a match through the assorted school killings, it seems gun free zones are the preferred location for mass murders. Note that even airline hijackers appreciate the opportunities granted them by the presence of an unarmed cockpit crew. The problem that we are unwilling to confront as a society, is that we refuse a whole to recognize that no number of laws can stop a determined sociopath. We prefer to implement useless, warm and fuzzy solutions such as banning objects and further stigmatizing the mentally ill and ethnic groups to accepting this reality. The reality is that the mentally ill are *less* violent than the general population; spree killers are not usually mentally ill - the main characteristic of a spree killer is a complete disregard of the law and the rights of others. Unfortunately, if we recognize these facts - it becomes clear that we can never be completely warm and fuzzy safe and it means that we will have to accept some responsibility for our own safety. So much easier to ban inanimate objects and stigmatize people and ignore the Hell's Angels with the bazookas in Oakland.
Albert Rubio July 24, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Don’t Let Aurora Shooting Curtail Right of Self-Defense by Sheldon Richman, July 23, 2012 http://www.fff.org/comment/com1207s.asp "However one comes down on this issue, we should understand that it is not relevant to the gun-policy question. Even if there was no chance of stopping Holmes, that would not justify restricting law-abiding people from carrying handguns. People intent on breaking the law against murder are not likely to respect a law against possession of firearms. The only people restricted by gun laws are law-abiding people. This point is so obvious, one wonders why some deny or ignore it. The criminal, unfortunately, chooses the time, place, and manner of his crime. I don’t like that rule either, but that’s the way it is. Criminals aren’t irrational, so they tend not to pick victims standing near cops. When you are attacked, calling 9-1-1 will do little good. For the record, the police are under no legal obligation to defend you. The courts have spoken on this. ... no one can truly delegate his or her right to or responsibility for one’s own self-defense. Ultimately, you are the only one who can look out for your safety, because you are only one who is with you 24/7 and therefore the only one you can count on when the criminal targets you. That’s just a fact. Another fact is that while guns are used to take innocent life, they are also used to protect innocent life. ... often, if not usually, without firing them."
Albert Rubio July 24, 2012 at 04:21 AM
We Americans have become obsessed with security, terrorism and safety.
Nadja Adolf July 24, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Uhyup. Newark plans to be an armored personnel carrier according to the Bay Area News Group: http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_21141002/newark-police-aiming-buy-armored-rescue-vehicle?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com Newark police aiming to buy armored rescue vehicle By Chris De Benedetti, The Argus Posted: 07/23/2012 05:16:51 PM PDT Updated: 07/23/2012 05:16:52 PM PDT NEWARK -- For years, police Chief James Leal has been looking into buying an armored truck for his department but could not find the right price or circumstances. That, finally, has changed and, in the wake of the mass shooting at Oakland's Oikos University in April and the gunfire that killed 12 people Friday in Aurora, Co., Leal is anxious to finalize the deal. The City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday whether to pay a total of $161,000 to lease a used bulletproof vehicle for the next seven years. The recently refurbished Lenco BearCat, which resembles an armored Brinks truck, would be used only for special circumstances, such as armed barricaded suspects, terrorist attacks and shootings at schools and other public places, police said. Newark, a small city of just under 43,000 people, has had its share of police standoffs with suspects in recent years, but has never been hit with a terrorist attack or mass shooting. Still, Leal said the Aurora tragedy is a "prime example" of why police agencies need the truck.
LivedinNewarktolong July 25, 2012 at 02:29 AM
This is a laughable expenditure if they go through with it. Maybe they can EARN the money to pay for it by giving us rides to the movie theaters at 5 bucks a person.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Wrong... a movie theatre is not a "gun free zone" in CO. It is private property and anyone with a concealed carry license recognized in Colorado can carry there unless the property owner chooses to ban weapons (post no firearms permitted signs). It's unfortunate that no one in that theatre chose to concealed carry and have the means to fire back. It's clear that the lunatic didn't want to die (had bullet proof vest and other protective gear) so it would have taken a very difficult shot to stop him in a room filled with tear gas, but even so, a few rounds of .45ACP might have knocked him on his ass and made him reconsider continuing the massacre. The police actually got there in 90 seconds but they didn't have gas masks and couldn't do much until they got them. In fact, the lunatic was apprehended outside in the parking lot, not in the theatre. Perhaps there should be discussion about what is proper police protective gear (ie: have gas masks on them as NYPD does post 9/11). I wholeheartedly disagee with the anti-gun crowd. Mayor Bloomturd couldn't even wait until the bodies were removed from the theatre to spew his gun grabbing nonsense. Same goes for CNN and MSLSD. I wish the media would focus more on telling the victims stories and keep the images of the scumbag off the tv screen. Don't give them the face time. This is what they want. When some idiot runs on a baseball field, the camers never show them. Same should be true here.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 04:58 AM
WELL SAID!
Tim July 25, 2012 at 05:04 AM
What does 6000 rounds of ammunition have to do with anything? He only needed about a 100 to do what he did. As for the rifle, do what? We shouldn't be able to own AR-15 style rifles now? We're talking about semi-automatic rifles, not the full auto used in the military. I am a gun owner and NRA member and where I tend to see the other side is on the issue of the magazines. It would have been very easy to file off the sear and make it full auto. I think that the 100 round drum mag should be outlawed. I know my friends would disagree but I would agree to ban anything over 30 rounds. And btw, the NRA isn't quiet. You don't hear Obama or Romney talking about any new gun control laws do you? No, and we can thank the NRA for that!
Nadja Adolf July 25, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Tim, the theater in Colorado was a gun free zone, complete with the NO FIREARMS PERMITTED SIGN. There are strict legal penalties for disobeying those signs; legally the theater was - and still is - a GUN FREE ZONE. The Colorado codes - and news stories from local Colorado media - are available on the internet where you can verify these facts for yourself.
Nadja Adolf July 25, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Serious target shooters can easily run through 1,000 rounds of ammunition in a week of practice; when in peak form back home, I could run through more than that. People tend to buy large amounts when ammunition is on sale since it is very expensive. Military style simply means it is what we refer to as an "ugly gun." It was a standard semi-automatic on an ugly stock. The NRA hasn't been given the media face time granted the Brady Bunch or HCI this week; so who knows if they have been quiet or not. Meanwhile, the largest non-political mass murder was done with regular gasoline and matches in the Bronx where 87 people died in the Happy Land Dance Club. It didn't get much media attention because the dead were poor urban Latinos instead of affluent suburbanites; and few political opportunists are interested in calling for a ban on regular gasoline.
Nadja Adolf July 25, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Actually, large capacity magazines tend to jam, as did the one used in this case. Semi-automatics recycle the recoil to reload the firearm; any jiggling or unsteadiness in the firearm can lead to jamming. Filing off the sear doesn't turn a semi-automatic into a full automatic - it tends to just cause the firearm to either jam immediately or discharge the entire magazine at once - if it doesn't jam. Quite a few people who watch too much TV and flunked physics have managed to kill themselves that way - the forces involved cause them to lose control of the firearm and it takes them out.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Nadja, again, you are wrong. These "no firearms" signs on PRIVATE property have no weight of law. It's not the same as carrying a firearm into a prohibited place such as a police station, K-12 school, or other place designated as "prohibited" by CO law... see here... http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/colorado.pdf The only way one would be breaking the law by carrying a concealed weapon at that movie theater would be if asked to leave by the owner or operator and not complying. Same would be true if one went in shirtless and were asked to leave. That would be a violation of trespass law but my point stands.... the "no firearms" signs there have NO FORCE OF LAW. I would suggest you turn off CNN and MSLSD and not believe everything you're told by the liberal media. They are CLUELESS on guns and gun laws. The criminal purchased ammunition (or cartridges), not bullets. If they don't know the difference between a cartridge and a bullet then they are clearly illiterate and should just shut up.
Nadja Adolf July 25, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Tim, you are clueless. Entering such premises is a violation of Colorado trespassing laws; and carries the risk that police may overreact. Such a violation MAY result in loss of carry permit - so it does carry the force of law. Cinemark Theaters has been very serious about enforcing their no guns policy. The signs are prominently posted on the patron entry doors of *all* of their theaters throughout the United States. You can spin it anyway you want; but not many respectable people will take the risk of being removed in handcuffs in front of the neighbors.
Tim July 25, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Are you kidding? I'm not spinning anything. You said... "This attack occurred in an official "gun free zone." " I just proved you WRONG by citing Colorado gun laws. Now you are agreeing with me that the issue is only trespass on private property. If one brought a gun there holstered and concealed with a valid CHP and was discovered through "printing" of the firearm and police responded there would be NO arrest, no handcuffs, NOTHING, unless this person were to refuse to leave if asked. There is always a risk police could overreact. What does that have to do with the law? Cinemark can have a no gun policy but again, it carries NO FORCE OF LAW. One would not lose their CHP for carrying there unless possibly if they were to refuse an order to leave their property and were convicted of trespass. They can ask anyone to leave, gun or no gun, and one has to comply or face arrest for trespass. But I just proved you wrong. Read the law yourself. I gave you the link. It's C.R.S. 18-4-201 and you can look it up in the link I provided. Accept it and move on. Let me sum it up for you... IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO ENTER THE THEATER WITH A CONCEALED HANDGUN AND CHP. IT IS ONLY ILLEGAL TO REMAIN IF ASKED TO LEAVE. This is also true if one has NO gun and is asked to leave.
Albert Rubio July 25, 2012 at 09:59 PM
What if the Dalai Lama told you: "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 15, 2001
ordinary joe August 06, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Now it is in Wisconsin. The Killer came with two semi-automatic handguns. Tim and other gun experts can decipher the nuts and bolts of the guns used. The bottomline - innocent people got killed because of an insane person. When will the so-called sane people wake up and realize it is not right? When will the NKA (a.k.a NRA) will realize that they are collaborrating with the killers?
Nadja Adolf August 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
When will those who disarm decent citizens and declare "gun free zones" realize that they are enabling mass murder, and making homicide and other crimes essentially risk free for criminals?
Nadja Adolf August 06, 2012 at 02:45 AM
And how do those who disarm the innocent explain away the deaths of 87 people by means of a book of matches and regular gasoline in the Bronx? Are they now proposing to outlaw matches and gasoline?
Albert Rubio August 06, 2012 at 07:10 AM
>collaborrating with the killers? you think supporting gun rights is a conspiracy to mass murder? Now your ready for political office. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable" By the way, where and when has gun control worked?
Zolla August 06, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I’m sure glad I have my concealed carry permit. Never leave home without it, and it’s valid in 31 other states.

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