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"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

on the theater shooting

By now, all of my readers are unquestionably aware of the shooting in a theater in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of the new Batman movie, so I will not go into any real specifics regarding that – I know nothing that is not in the news, and there is not much information I would consider to be "factual" floating around there yet.

I would, however, like to say two quick things.

First, my rights should not and will not be restricted due to the actions of one murderous madman. I am not responsible for anyone’s actions other than my own, and I patently refuse to be held accountable for anyone’s actions but my own. Sure, punish this guy to the fullest extent of the law with my full and unwavering support, but the very second you start muttering about punishing everyone by way of increasing "gun control" on the basis of this one incident, you lose any support you might have had, much less the high ground itself.

The simple truth is I murdered no one last night. Tens of millions of law-abiding, firearm-owning American citizens murdered no one last night. As such, you have no right, no reason, and no standing to limit, restrict, regulate, control, legislate, or otherwise abrogate my personal, individual, and Constitutionally-protected rights in any way. None. So piss off.

Furthermore, given the apparently-"sophisticated" bombs the murderer rigged his apartment with, it is positively ludicrous to assume greater "gun control" would have derailed him from his intended path of murdering nearly a score of innocent people – a bomb would have accomplished that far faster, and probably would have racked up a larger kill count. I guess he wanted the more "personal" nature of shooting them down with a gun…

Second, to my fellow pro-rights activists, this is one situation where it is very difficult to honestly say that a lawfully-armed citizen could have ended the situation with fewer people dead. The possibility unquestionably exists, but consider the circumstances: dark theater, shootout scene of the movie currently on the screen, packed the to the everloving gills, shooter dressed all in black, shooter leading off with two cans of something that may or may not be OC/tear gas, mass panic, everyone rushing for the exits, etc. etc. etc. The odds of being able to (a) identify the shooter, (2) get a clear line of sight, and (iii) draw, take aim, and make anything even approximating a clean, accurate shot are about nil.

This is not to say it could not have happened, just that it was very, very unlikely. This, of course, is not to say that theaters should ban firearms on their premises, or no one should carry to a theater; I am simply looking at the facts of the situation as impartially as I can. Trust me, I would definitely prefer that this situation had resolved itself with far fewer casualties – one of them the murderer himself – but we cannot just automatically say that armed private citizens definitively would have prevented this incident or cut it short.

This situation sucks hard enough to jump-start a Hoover no matter how you look at it; my sympathies and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends today. But please do not exploit their tragedies as an excuse to punish those who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

17 comments to on the theater shooting

  • BigHayden

    Great post, Linoge. I will disagree with one thing you said. A lawful citizen with a firearm and a flashlight (and the proper training on their use together) could have possibly limited the number of people hurt/killed.

  • So far as I can tell, I have not disagreed with that statement, but the probability behind that “could” is really, really small.

    The flashlight only solves the lighting problem, and maybe at that – with upwards of 100-300 (how big was the theater) people all trying to make a break for it or take cover, just how much control over your own actions will you have lest you be trampled?

  • I agree, someone on Uncle’s called it the Kobayashi Maru of CCW situations. Yes there are things you could do to mitigate, but the satiation was deliberately made bad. Between the gas, the darkness, the surprise, the bystanders, the armor. It’s bad.

    I’d hate, hate, hate to ever be in that situation, but it’s not like leaving my guns home next time I to to the theater would help. (Not that I think any of us are suggesting that Linoge).

    Also it’s twisted that this mutant took so much effort to stack the environment against his victims and then immediately surrenders to the first cop he sees.

    It seems this guy really, really wanted to avoid “suicide by cop” or any other immediate harm. Methinks he wanted to ensure he was alive to enjoy the infamy.

    Also it’s looking like not only did he rig his apparent but he had it set to loop very loud music after a delay and then left the door unlatched so knocking would start to open it.
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/31290627/detail.html

    Depending on his aptitude and what other “prizes” he had made up, this could have gone a lot worse. And given his plotting and dedication, even if all guns were magiced away, he’d still have been willing and able to kill, and on a large scale.

    The whole blood dancing in communal punishment is all sorts of skeevy, but expected from the antis.

  • Rolf

    And that is why the military teaches “attack the ambush!” Charge into it, close with the enemy, and go hand-to-hand if you must. He was weighted down with body armor, mask, shotgun, two sidearms, and lots of ammo. If two normal-sized adult males (likely a majority of this crowd) could get their hands on him, it would be all over. The best possible mindset in a mass shooting attempt is for the crowd to counter-attack. Armor and a helmet become negatives when someone is sitting on you and you are fighting gravity.

    Back when I was teaching HS and we had a live-gunman (but not yet shooting) lock-down at the school, I followed basic school protocol as far as “shelter in place, lock door,” etc, but then I told my students that in the unlikely case that he DID come in our door, everyone was to throw something at him, and the front row nearest the door (where I placed the biggest boys and myself) were to CHARGE with raised chairs or desks, close, rip his arm off, and beat the SOB to death with the bloody stump, and everyone else was to follow for any needed support, because waiting to be shot last was NOT GUNNA HAPPEN! The kids thought it sounded a lot better than the normal school policy of playing possum, and hoping he ran out of ammo before he got to them. I’m sure the principal would not be happy that I gave a 30-second course on “available weapons in the classroom” but it was needed at the time.

  • Linoge,

    Great post and I absolutely agree that we will never know for sure. I also agree that it would be difficult for any one concealed carry holder to make a difference in that situation.

    (leaving aside the fact that the murderer probably would have chosen a different gun free environment)

    What we have to look at is the probability of MULTIPLE concealed carriers in an environment like that. A Husband Wife team — two or three good friends — heck 3 strangers sitting in different areas of the theater.

    The statistics for Texas show about 1.55 of the population is licensed — let’s say 120 people per theater – that means 2 people could have been carrying.

    Now the odds go up against the attacker.

    More importantly is to look at the probable actions of a concealed carry holder in that situation. Now is no the time for a detailed simulation — but most scenarios end up with the concealed carrier escaping without engaging.

  • Tom

    That’s just what I thought after the 2008 mass murder at Northern Illinois U. The guy walks into a room with over 100 college kids, and no one offers any resistance. Now, I might be frozen in terror, too. And it has to be one of the hardest things to be the one person who attacks the attacker. But thinking about it from the shooter’s perspective, I know the limitations of firearms and how hard it is to hit even a stationary target — and I’m a pretty good shot. Could I shoot one person charging at me? Maybe, assuming he/she isn’t coming at me from the side. Two people? Probably not. Three? Not likely at all. Most of us have a very passive mindset. I don’t know how to change that, and it’s very easy for me to say sitting here at the computer. But the round count might have been much lower if someone had charged at Holmes.

    @ Rolf:

  • […] that have made the point that this crime is an example of why the authors carry a gun. I agree with Linoge from Walls of the City that this isn’t a very strong argument. From the preliminary reports, […]

  • Oakenheart

    I already dumped two facebook “friends” over this. They started with the Brady lies, and after a year of links they never read, and posts they never responded to,I just said the heck with it. Like a horse to water, you can lead a looney lib to knowledge, but you can’t make em think.

    It really sucks that people who can’t rub two neurons together can go vote.

    “I believe in the Second Amendment, that’s why I voted for Obama” one of them said. Good god, what an idiot.

  • Two things.

    1. I’ve yet to track down any *reliable* source that says what the shooter wore was actual body armor and a helmet versus tactical and/or airsoft gear. An AP story I read today said he purchased the clothing from tacticalgear.com, but they won’t sell armor to non-LEO’s, so the question is still open in my mind until I hear further.

    2. I agree that the situation inside of that theatre would have been hell on Earth, and a very, very difficult place to take intervening action.

    But not impossible. Having flashlight (a Photon II goes with me all the time) helps and gives me options beyond blind panic. As does a sidearm.

    And options are all I ask for.

  • @ Rolf:
    Thanks for this. My wife is a teacher, and I’m not happy with her school’s “Cower and hope you don’t die” policy either. I’m recommending your course of action to her as I type this.

  • Rolf

    @ ExurbanKevin:
    You’re welcome. And I think that’s where it starts – the classroom. We (almost) all go to school, and are told CONSTANTLY to not solve your own problems (except the ones the teachers gives you), go to an adult or let the professionals do it, violence never solves anything, etc., etc. While that’s all fine when it’s a non-emergency, it leads to a very passive, don’t-get-involved *mindset* that permeates everything else you do and experience. That’s been the common denominator with nearly all the mass shootings – schools of passive, trained to let-the-professionals-do-it, unarmed, collective-action-for-everything-but-survival sheep who do nothing but cower and hide trying to be the last shot. It’s that MINDSET that needs to be changed to one of action, self-defense, and CHARGE!

  • Mark@Sea

    In this instance, it might have been a good time to bring a knife to a gunfight.

    I believe I’d give half my worldly possessions for the opportunity to crucify (literally) the perp. Preferably in the center of the town square.

  • @ The Jack: Kobayashi Maru is about the best way to describe it, only in this case, there was no way to cheat, unfortunately. The situation was the very personification of “shooting gallery”, “fish in a barrel”, and “pandemonium”, and I would likewise hate to be in a similar situation.

    And, no, no one in the comments is proposing leaving our guns at home due to this kind of situation, and neither am I… I’m just trying to say that this is a horrible battle to pick and choose as a reason for concealed carry.

    As for the bomb rigging… wow, that is a particularly despicable, warped personality…

    @ Rolf: You’ve been in a theater, right? On opening night? For the first, midnight showing? Unless you are on the aisles, you are going precisely nowhere, no matter how good your intentions are. Yes, if everyone in the room was willing to fight back, then this would have been over with a few injuries/fatalities, but the simple truth is not everyone has that mentality, or the willingness to act.

    Hell, some of the people thought it was part of the show. I cannot imagine how they are feeling today.

    That said, I wholly approve of your classroom training, and I hope the kids took it to heart.

    @ Bob S.: Oh, I agree that multiple potential counter-shooters in the room could have improved the situation, just like a single concealed carrier could have improved the situation… but they would all be fighting the same problems of mass panic, lighting, clear shot, etc. etc. etc. Ideally, the shooter(s) would have been on the asile he was moving up, but no way of guaranteeing that.

    Again, I am not saying this is a situation that highlights the futility of concealed carry; I am simply stressing it is not a good example to hold up as to how concealed carry could have “helped”.

    @ Tom: Yeah… I have discussed the Bystander Effect here before, and it is pervasive, invasive, and deadly… But, honestly, in the middle of a movie, who actually noticed him come in? He chose to attack during a shoot-out on scene – would you have been able to hear the difference in some theaters today? I hate to say it, but he planned this situation about perfectly.

    @ Oakenheart: This incident really has encouraged some stupid people to say some really stupid things. It is a damned shame they do not realize their blood-dancing is dishonoring the memory of the victims.

    @ ExurbanKevin: Honestly, I was just going off the disjointed and likely-incorrect news reports I had glanced through – they were unquestionably wrong, and the “real” information will not be known for probably weeks to come.

    And I am in no way advocating that your choices and options should be taken away from you – I want them too. I am just not convinced it would have mattered an iota. I probably still would have tried.

    @ Mark@Sea: The problem is still a matter of closing the distance, but, yeah, anything would have been good in that case.

  • Motor-T

    I wonder what percent of gun owners have never committed a gun related or violent crime. There is room here for a “We Are The 99%” campaign here. Or one of Linoge’s signature “Graphics Matter” posts.

  • I believe you are looking for this; though, bear in mind, it does assume that one person commits only one firearm-related crime, and a few other details, but there it is :).

  • @ Linoge:
    Never entered my mind that you were. :D

    This is CLEARLY a situation where just one armed citizen has the desk stacked against him six ways from Sunday, and the chances of getting out of it hale and hearty are slim to none, and slim just left town.

    But I like to think that I’d try. I hope and pray I’ll never find out.

  • Just clarifying for the sake of clarity :).

    But, yeah, I would probably try too, for what little good it might have done me.