Two thoughts on the killings in Colorado

1.  We don’t have any way of knowing whether gun control would have prevented the killings, but we can be sure that the availability of legal guns did not prevent them.  Diane Feinstein says this is a bad time to raise this issue, but it is sure to be raised anyway. I like this USA Today article because it makes the point that a small gun-free zone (like the movie theater in this case) in the middle of an area in which guns are widely available does not work.  It is way too easy to buy guns legally outside of the zone and bring them in.

2.  Every picture I’ve seen of the guy, including the one in the link above, shows him with a smirk on his face.  I think the media, all media, should refrain from showing his face at all.

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  • JKB

    But it was illegal to bring a gun into the theater so law abiding citizens were disarmed. Besides this guy built gas, incendiary and other devices so the lack of legal firearm purchase would probably not have slowed his plan.

    The theater, as is their right, chose to disarm their customers making them more vulnerable to attack. They then failed to establish adequate security procedures to compensate for their desire that their customers be helpless victims. This should create liability for them but I don’t think anyone has been successful in lawsuits…yet.

    People need to make conscious trade offs when entering such facilities posted for no lawful carry. It is a sign that says, “here is a group of people who can’t fight back.”

    To be certain, given the attack, any one with lawful carry, if the theater owners had permitted such, could only hope to disrupt the attack before being killed. On the other hand, they would likely be killed anyway trying to protect others with no way to fight back. But if the shooter has bullets coming at him, he is likely to be distracted from the systematic killing possibly permitting more innocents to escape. Very often, these killers surrender or suicide upon the first resistance to their actions.

    Keep in mind, the first officers arrive on the scene in 90 seconds, yet 12 are dead and 59(?) are wounded and the shooter made his escape outside. Why could he do that, because when seconds count the police are only minutes away.

  • weathtd

    It appears that the movie itself was in part a motivating factor in the shooters actions in the same way the Columbine shooters took some motivation and plan from The Matrix.  Maybe the moron Bloomberg should be suggesting the banning of movies as well as guns.

  • jj

    I don’t actually care one way or the other about the guy’s face.  But I have reached the conclusion the media shouldn’t be allowed to report on any such event until a clear 72 hours after the fact.  They will utilize this time to do such research as they’re capable of (not much, based on the evidence), before being allowed to open their mouths.  This will prevent political operatives masquerading as “journalists” like ABC’s George Cockroach and Brian Ross from pulling the kind of crap they pulled, trying desperately to make an association between the Tea Party and the event.  They have believed their own bullshit for so long they’ve become pathological, and can’t help trying to work it into any and every situation.  “Tiresome” is not the word.  I can remember a time when Ross would have been reflexively fired for the kind of crap he pulled, and Cockroach would have been stood down for a few weeks to think on his role in setting it up for Ross.
    But, though disgusting, it’s eminently predictable.  David Gregory yesterday resurrected Clinton’s 1995 nonsense in the wake of Oklahoma City, babbling about the “voices on the radio” keeping the pot boiling.  (Limbaugh has, accurately, speculated about just who the “voices on the radio” back in 1995 might have been – other than him.)  It seems not to occur to the deep-thinking Gregory that maybe someone credibly accused of rape might not be the best or most quotable authority on anyone else’s tendency to violence.
    And now we’ll have to listen to the gun control morons… again.   Thanks, Holmes! Aaargh…!

  • Charles Martel

    I think we should send Holmes to Norway to stand trial. Ja, you betcha those Norskies know how to handle mass murderers!

  • lee

    I wager we will be hearing about mental illness soon. I think one of the biggest things that could be done to prevent things like this is to reexamine the deinstitutionalization policies that began to be implemented in the 70’s. It is no virtually impossible to institutionalize someone unless they’ve killed someone. (Even then, it’s a challenge keeping them there–apparently John Hinkley is able to pull the wool over he psychiatrists eyes, but the Secret Service is always watching him and reports his lies.)

  • Mike G.

    I concur 100% about the press having to wait at least 72 hours before opining on these stories. The only things needed in the initial story are What, Who, When and Where. The Why can wait. And also I believe it would be a good idea not to glorify these criminals by putting them on the front page.

  • Jose

    “We don’t have any way of knowing whether gun control would have prevented the killings, but we can be sure that the availability of legal guns did not prevent them”
    The Theater was a “gun free” zone.
    That meant that only people who disobey the law can bring guns. 
    Would a citizen with a concealed carry license have made a difference?  Impossible to say, but I know of one theater that did contain a licensed CCW holder on 2 occasions in the last month.  At the very least the shooter would have had someone shooting back at him.
    Would taking away guns solve the problem?  Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun, and this shooter has demonstrated a propensity for using the same methods in his apartment.  Not to mention another alienated academic named Ted Kaczynski. 

  • Don Quixote

    Well, yes, Jose, the theater was a “gun free” zone as I pointed out in my original post (“a small gun-free zone (like the movie theater in this case)”)  But this tiny “gun free” zone sits in the middle of a large zone in which guns are available and legal.  I also said there is no way to know whether taking away guns would have solved the problem.  We do know that allowing them in the broader area while making them off-limits in this tiny area certainly didn’t work. 

    I suppose the real question is whether it is better to ban guns in both the larger area and the smaller area or to allow them in both.  I don’t think there is much doubt which side most of the commentors here are on.  But that’s the debate. 

  • Danny Lemieux

    DQ, the point about the theater being a “gun free” zone is not that it was possible to obtain guns, but that by advertising “gun free”, the shooter knew that he would not encounter opposition. Criminals weigh odds. They are predators, they prey on the weak and they avoid the strong. The shooter in Aurora quite obviously was very worried about getting shot, wrapping himself in body armor.

    This is one reason why I think that it is so wrong-headed to ban guns in school areas or churches – such bans invite violence by advertising themselves as soft targets. 

    I really recommend reading Jose’s link to John Lott’s studies: Lott famously documented  that when communities increased the prevalence of arms, the rate of violent crime dropped. As science fiction write Robert Heinlein famously wrote, “an armed society is a polite society”.


  • Jose

    ” We don’t have any way of knowing whether gun control would have prevented the killings, but we can be sure that the availability of legal guns did not prevent them.”
    As far as legal gun ownership preventing killings, when it does occur it is a non-event and we rarely hear about it.  If we hear anything, the armed citizen is usually omitted.
    The first story on the NRA website:
    Just one week after being released from prison, Kiet Thanh Ly, 34, allegedly entered Smith’s Marketplace and purchased a kitchen knife. After leaving the store, Ly used the knife to senselessly stab a 30-year-old man multiple times in the abdomen. He then attacked a 45-year-old man who suffered cuts to his arms and head. Ly continued to threaten and chase people in the store’s parking lot until a 47-year-old man with a concealed-carry permit intervened. He was able to detain Ly until police arrived. Ly is being held on suspicion of assault and attempted murder. (The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT, 4/28/12)
    Would gun control restrict the knife wielder?  Or would it restrict the CCW holder who stopped him?  It is plausible the attacker could go to movie theater and kill a dozen people.

  • Jose

    Thomas Sowell says this morning:
    Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data.
    Britain is a country with stronger gun control laws than the United States, and lower murder rates. But Mexico, Russia, and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States — and their murder rates are much higher than ours. Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours.


  • Don Quixote

    The data summarized by Sowell suggests that the issue is not the extent to which guns are legal, so much as the manner in which the society views the use of guns.  In some subcultures in the United States, the use of guns is routine.  The kids in the inner cities who are killing each other day after day know full well that all of the gangs are armed to the teeth.  I’m sure that in the individual case they look for unarmed targets, but they know that well-armed rival gangs will retaliate.  They kill each other anyway.  Within that subculture, the notion that a well-armed general population causes crime to decline simply does not work.  The power that the guns symbolize simply is more important to those kids that the value of their own lives.  

    On the other hand, in most areas of the United States the arming of the general public may well have a deterrent effect for reasons so well expressed above.  My point is only that providing a small “gun-free” zone in the middle of a large area where guns are widely and legally available is not an effective tactic. As has been correctly pointed out, this essentially advertises the area as the one place that people are not likely to shoot back. 

    Much of the argument above seems to center on the idea that this fellow might well have killed people anyway, even if he didn’t have access to guns.  He could have used a bomb or whatever.  Well, sure.  He appears to be one sick fellow, determined to destroy human life by any means possible.  But I am perplexed at the notion that making it more difficult for him to do so is, therefore, a bad thing.  Gun control may be a bad idea for other reasons.  Surely, identifying small islands of gun control in a large sea of guns is a bad idea. But I fail to see the logic behind this he-might-have-done-it-anyway argument.         

  • Danny Lemieux

    Actually, my solution for dealing with the crime problems in the inner city would be to deputize and issue and handgun (with training) to every able man and woman without a felony record.

    I suspect the drug trade would rapidly decide the environs were too hot and move elsewhere…for example, neighborhoods in cities that ban handguns. Not a chance in H*** that anyone would try that, though.

  • Mike Devx

    Many of you have already said above what’s on my mind, but not quite in the way I’d say it or think it.

    It is almost a *proven* fact that gun control causes an increase in crime, because the criminal knows that the chances of effective resistance by his prey is lower.  Actually, it is common sense.  Gun control stops law abiding people from carrying guns; it does not stop the criminals and the predators.

    And what we have here in Aurora is a *perfect* example of the horrifying effects of gun control.  The theater was a gun-free zone.  Guns are banned.  All the law-abiding people therefore were not carrying guns.  The one criminal with murderous intent was carrying a gun.  He didn’t give one speck of damn about the gun control law.  You’d better believe he knew it was a gun free zone.  And you’d better believe he was very very HAPPY it was a gun free zone.

    I know there are a couple of genuine, valid reasons for gun control.  The number of accidental gun deaths will drop.  And the number of sudden flare-up arguments that end deadly due to gunfire will drop.

    As to the first argument – that the number of accidental deaths will drop – it is perfectly and equally legitimate to pass a law requiring that EVERYONE be trained in gun safety instead.  It is just as valid an argument to do THAT, as it is to demand gun control.

    The second argument remains irrefutable to me.  You will simply have some smaller number of deaths.  I don’t know what that number might be, but I suspect it is a very small percentage.  Is that worth such a significant curtailment of our individual rights?  Is that worth the loss of a very significant personal freedom?

    Remember what is said of totalitarian leaders and dictators: The first thing they want is to disarm their populace.  Take their guns and their effective means of resistance away.  The same is true – but to a lesser extent – of those who seek to use government in every way to control our lives, to take away our freedoms in the name of some better social good or another.  They will always justify it, and sometimes there is a truth to that justification.  But that truth is usually of far, far less import than the freedoms they are taking away from us.


  • Danny Lemieux

    Well said, MikeD.

  • jj

    “Colorado is a concealed-carry state … but so was Virginia when a college campus there was racked by violence. Like the school, the theater chain was also ‘gun-free.’ In December 2007, two church members were shot to death and three others injured after a gunman opened fire outside the New Life Church in Colorado Springs as Sunday services were wrapping up. That tragedy could have been much worse, but the gunman was shot by a church security officer and was found dead when police arrived at the scene. On April 22 of this year a just-released felon went to the New Destiny Christian Church in Aurora, Colo., and killed the mother of Pastor Delano Strahan before being killed himself by a congregant carrying a gun. Unlike the tragedies at Columbine High School and the movie theatre in Aurora, there was someone at these venues willing and able to shoot back. … The similarities between Aurora and the Virginia Tech massacre are eerie and maddening. In 2006, a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for carrying a gun on campus, despite having a permit. School officials were quick to note their school was a ‘gun-free zone.’ On April 16, 2007, there was no one able to shoot back when Seung-Hui Cho shot 32 people to death on a Virginia Tech campus. … Few Americans are aware that in an October 1997 shooting spree at a Pearl, Miss., high school that left two students dead, assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a gun from his car and immobilized the shooter until police arrived, preventing further killings. Or, in another school shooting in January 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia, a disgruntled former student killed Law Dean L. Anthony Sutin, associate professor Thomas Blackwell and a student. Two of the three Virginia law students who overpowered the gunman were armed, preventing further deaths. In February 2007, at a Salt Lake City mall, armed off-duty police officer Ken Hammond killed a young Muslim named Sulejman Talovic after he had killed five people, preventing an even larger massacre. Yet liberals will insist the answer to criminal violence is more ‘gun-free’ zones and the disarming of more potential victims.” —Investor’s Business Daily

  • Ymarsakar

    Remember, freedom is slavery. Free gun zones will produce double plus good. Don’t forget on the next 2 minute Hate.


  • Ymarsakar

    Danny, I would. In 2008 I was already recommending we use the counter insurgency methods learned in Iraq on inner cities to purge the criminals and politicians involved.