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h/t +Jason Gordon 

"For all of you out there who may be thinking, like Congressman Gohmert, that had one or more of the members of the audience for The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado been armed that he would have been able to successfully neutralize the attack, I would like to remind you of this:

On March 21, 1981, Ronald Reagan, The President of the United States, was shot while surrounded by the best trained bodyguards on planet Earth, all of whom were armed with the very best weaponry and other equipment available. The shooter, John Hinckley, Jr., was not fired at. In fact, he got punched in the head and pulled to the ground by Alfred Antenucci, a Cleveland, Ohio, labor official, who happened to be standing near to Hinckley when he opened fire.

My point, and I say this as a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, is that other people with guns don't necessarily equal stopping the bad guy or preventing loss of like, The Secret Service didn't open fire on Hinckley because they were in a crowd and they considered the risk of hitting innocent civilians to be too great. Again, these are some of the best trained marksmen on the planet and they think taking shots in that situation is too big of a risk. Why then do these people assume that Joe Citizen should take risks that vastly more qualified individuals would refuse to take and that said risk would pay off?

The sad truth we must all realize is that there is no way to prevent this from happening. No one could have predicted that a madman would shoot up a movie premiere. Or that a kid would shoot up his university, or a high school. There are the acts of madmen. Banning guns wouldn't have stopped it, and armed citizens in the theatre weren't likely to have stopped it either. We don't want to admit this because it's a scary truth. But remember that even though the news coverage will be constant and playing up the fear, the statistical likelihood of being caught in a shooting spree of this type is still infinitessimal."
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38 comments
 
Jason is a lawyer for very good reason. Well said! 
 
Thanks!   Though I should point out that I got the idea for this comparison from a speech given by Allison Janney portraying White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg in the second season opener of The West Wing.  Of course, I cited to real events, not the fictional shooting of a fictional president.  But the point remains valid.
 
Thank you for that - I am getting sick of hearing all the gun right nuts proclaiming that this would not have happened had someone with a C&C been in the crowd.  IT is a bullshit argument and is just an annoying and very disrespectful way they are injecting their political agenda into this very tragic event.
JP Lang
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Sad to read about what happened to our southern cousins, but until going mad can be dealt with in a utopian state prediction/prevention program it is, quite simply, not possible to protect against this kind of event. Removing guns from those who don't 'need' them would help, but it won't eliminate the potential.

My condolences to those who lost family, and I wish a speedy and full recovery to those injured. 
 
Suppose a large number of other people in the theatre were armed, and they returned fire.   How do they know which person is the original shooter, which are his accomplices, and which are defending themselves?

What happens when they can't answer those questions?
 
This is one of the reasons I brought up the attempt on President Reagan.  Neither DC Police nor the Secret Service fired a shot.  Hinckley was punched in the head and pulled to the ground by an unarmed labor official from Ohio who happened to be standing near Hinckley when he started shooting.  Almost immediately, an Agent was on top of Hinckley, but no fire was returned.

Why?  Well, probably because Secret Service agents are trained in such a way as to realize that shooting into a crowd in an attempt to hit one person who is in it is a really bad idea if you don't want to shoot innocent civilians. So how is it that this idiot from Texas and those like him think that it is appropriate for Joe Citizen to risk a shot that Secret Service agents, some of the very best-trained marksmen on Earth wouldn't have taken?

Not to mention that, according to witnesses, the attacker dropped a canister of tear gas before he started shooting and was reported to have been wearing a bullet-proof vest.  So now, Joe Citizen not only has to somehow rise above the effects on breathing and visibility that tear gas has upon the body, but he also has to make a head shot, in a crowded, clouded theater in the dark!  And, incidentally, he as to do this without hitting any of his fellow moviegoers.

If that seems pretty unlikely, that's because it is.  Could an armed civilian have taken down the shooter and prevented some casualties?  It's possible, but the smart money is on there being more casualties due to friendly fire.
 
+Lark LaTroy   -- you've nailed it.

Perhaps, if the shooter had good reason to suspect that a large percentage of the audience were armed, he wouldn't have attempted to murder them in the first place.

Being armed is more use in an individual crime scenario: mugging, robbery, rape. Where it's just you and your attacker(s) and generally you're in a fairly deserted place, it's much easier to know who's who and what's behind your target.

Very often with these mass public shootings, the perpetrator's aim is "aggravated suicide" or "suicide by cop". They want to go out in a "blaze of glory" after killing as many people as they can. They often spend months or even years planning it -- very often leaving diaries or blogs detailing their plans and thought processes.

This guy presumably didn't intend to suicide -- wearing body armour indicates a desire to survive. However, if he'd thought that a substantial proportion of the audience could have been armed and might have shot back, perhaps he'd have chosen a different target, or not committed the crime at all.
 
I should point out, by the way, that I am all for the right to keep and bear arms.  I support reasonable regulations on the purchase and ownership of firearms, but I am not opposed to them.  In some cases they act as a deterrent to crime because, well, most criminals are somewhat rational.  Muggers don't go after people they think are armed than they are to attack someone who is physically larger and stronger.  Too much risk.  But these kinds of tragedies are not carried out by rational actors.

The security cordon around the most powerful (and well-protected) individual on Earth didn't deter Hinckley for one very good reason: he was a raving nutter.
 
It's fairly ironic that an action adventure comic movie was the setting for this. In movie bad guys get hit in the middle of the face with the perfect shot. It's irresponsible to think this would carry over to real life and that would be the solution. 
Case in point-there is a viral video of an elderly man pinging the hell out of  robbers in a crowded area. Everyone is cheering for the old man running and shooting, even shooting at the perps after they are running away and out the door. We're cheering because no one but the bad guys got hit. But if one bystander had been injured or killed that man would be facing a far different audience. 
 
Somehow I don't see an amateur gunfight in a dark theater being an improvement over what actually happened.
 
+Brenda Curtis I don't agree. It's too easy to get guns in the U.S. Mentally ill people have easy access. Think of schizophrenic Jared Loughner who easily bought a semi-automatic at Walmart and then went out and killed 6 people and shot my Congresswoman in the head. I bet this guy in Aurora turns out to be a mentally ill person, too.   If Loughner and Holmes had a knife, only one or two would be dead. A semiautomatic makes it way easier to kill a lot.They are not religious fanatics who will take themselves out with a suicide bomb. Semi-automatic guns are the weapon of choice, are easy to get, and should be better controlled. That's what I think. Please don't send me any threats or nasty comments. The last time I said I wanted to make it harder to buy a gun, especially if you are crazy, some gun lover on G+ threatened me.
 
+C.J. Shane FWIW, the worst mass public shootings have taken place in Germany (3 of the top 5, including #1 & #2) in those cases (and as in many others) the gun(s) used were obtained illegally. Germany has very restrictive gun laws, but that didn't prevent those perpetrators -- along with a lot of common criminals -- from getting hold of them.

I used to live in London -- where handguns are banned completely. But If I'd wanted to I could have gone out and picked up a handgun and a couple dozen rounds for it in less than an hour, day or night. Completely illegal, but dead easy to get if you know who or where to ask.

I could do the same in Boston, where I live now, though I suspect the prices are higher than they were when I lived in London.  And Massachusetts has pretty tough gun laws.

The only time in my life I've carried a gun on a regular basis was when I lived in Bahrain. And while that was technically illegal, I had unofficial permission.
 
We will absolutely not consider the police/military being armed with guns and citizens unable to do the same. Nope. No way. 
 
+Brenda Curtis As long as the police and military have guns guns exist, enterprising citizens will find a way to acquire them.

The only way to stop gun violence would be to erase the technology and the knowledge of gunsmithing, explosives, and ballistics from the world.

But that would still leave rocks, sticks, ropes, water, plastic bags, hammers, axes, knives, forks, knitting needles, bicycle spokes, poison, electricity, and probably a bazillion other things that we could use to kill each other.

The problem isn't the weapon. It's the perpetrator.
 
+Nate Supplee both sides on the gun issue are trying to use this for their own agenda. The "gun rights" nuts and the "only my rights count" nuts. Well said at the top.

Sitting in the theater today an idiot behind me talking about the shooting said "Let that happen here, I will run to my car and get my gun." I bit my tongue.

I went through quite a bit to purchase my guns. I don't mind them making it harder as some people have no business even owning a sharp pencil. Not outright killing all options to own though.
 
people will expend a lot of breath trying to figure out a why or a way for it never to happen again. But things like this will happen. Because human. 
 
As somebody who does have a CCW permit, and have been through a number of courses regarding the subject, I can't honestly say whether I would have tried to take a shot or not, had I been there.    Judging by what I've read so far, it sounds like it was a far too chaotic situation for me to risk shooting the alleged perpetrator without risking hitting somebody else.   Most likely, I would have drawn, and hunkered down, and hoped for a clear shot.

Shooting indiscriminately in the general direction of an assailant is never a good plan.   And anybody that's had any training in the matter (or any common sense, frankly) should most likely feel the same way.

I do believe there is a certain deterrent factor involved in people being armed regularly though, even if they aren't actually staring down an assailant. if the criminal element has to start assuming that their intended victims are armed, it makes a serious change in the way they operate.   Anecdotally, the American West in the Late 1800's-Early 1900's is a perfect example of this.   While Hollywood would have us believe there were gunfights at high noon in every town west of the Mississippi, it just isn't true, and it's largely because most of the populace was armed.
 
+James Schnepp True, I see both sides waving their flags on this one.  I'd have had a hard time biting my tongue on that one you heard today....lol
 
If it's in your car, you might as well not have it.   That guy was/is an idiot.
 
The majority of regular day folks do not stop to consider beyond their target or collateral damage, so the best option would be not to pull.

Thankfully, I have never had to pull my gun when out in public. There were a few scares around my house that prompted a round racking, but nothing that required me to go all John McClane.
 
Initial reports are that the scumbag was wearing bullet-resistant kevlar body armor: unless what you're packing fires supersonic armor-piercing rounds, what you'd probably get is especially selected for return fire, rather than managing to stop a mass shooting.
And as Columbine demonstrated, insofar as the two kids knew there would be an armed policeman at school the day they chose, but not the day afterwards, there is no apparent deterrent effect to knowing you'll be facing a trained, armed opponent.
 
While I do think that we should make it more difficult for people with certain mental health issues to acquire firearms legally, I also think that will only act as a partial deterrent.  An individual that is determined enough will find a way to acquire an illegal weapon or decide to build a homemade bomb or something else.

There is no 100% deterrent.  It's like a car alarm, it does absolutely nothing to stop someone from stealing your car.  But it does increase the risk of getting caught.  But if the guy wants the car badly enough, he's taking it. 
 
Most people who kill with guns are not mentally ill and the law is already too strict.  The Brady Bill law made it so if you have ever been treated for even minor depression with meds, it is very difficult for you to get a gun.  However, if you belong to a racist militia, the KKK or any other of the 1000's of hate groups in the US, no problem.   
 
Well, you can't legislate around the First Amendment any more than you can around the Second.  And while I say we need to make it more difficult for these weapons to get into the wrong hands, I have no idea what policies or procedures would make that happen.
 
I wrote this without a specific political agenda other than the fact that I don't think the incident is relevant to the debate on gun control and the like.  I do believe that it is irresponsible to give people the impression that there could have been a hero there to save the day.  Sadly, that only happens in the comic books and movies based on them.
 
I haven't seen anything to indicate motive at all yet. Politicizing it, making it  another hash mark against Christians, whatever is all irresponsible at this point. 
 
+Hugh Tauerner and  +Lark LaTroy  You are both exhibiting the same logical fallacy.  Hugh, that the largest number of people ever killed by firearms in one (or two or three) incidents  in a country with tight gun controls laws does not invalidate what I said. We in the U.S. have multiple incidents each year with multiple deaths and the total number killed is greater than the incidents you mentioned. A person can bring up one incident in which 100 people are killed (the largest number killed in one incident)  or one can bring up the fact that there are 1,000 incidents in which 10 people killed in each incident. Do the math. That's what we are looking at here. In the U.S. we have 32 people EACH DAY killed by firearms (source: Fed. Bureau of Investigation). That's 11,680 each year from firearms. This does not include suicides or non-fatal shootings.

 Lark, same with stabbings. Because one person killed a bunch of kids with a knife in Japan doesn't mean that it possible to kill as many people with knives as guns. My point was always that easy access to guns makes it possible to kill more people. The total number killed in China, Japan, Britain etc. by knives is far less than the total number killed by guns in the U.S.

We don't want to cultivate a cynical attitude. Yes, people who really want to kill will kill, just as germs will always make people sick. But that doesn't mean we will give up and not attempt to stop all these deaths by semi-automatic any more than we will give up public health programs and research into vaccines and cures for lethal diseases.
JP Lang
 
+Jason Gordon, actually you could legislate around the Second Amendment: it's been nearly 250 years, and the British have not returned. Also, you now have a standing army, so that precludes the requirement for a militia or armed citizens. Essentially, it's now moot and redundant.

Of course, no amount of sense I type will change anyone's mind in America, but I do like pointing out the REAL reason behind the Second Amendment. 
 
Good point. I also got in a discussion about it earlier on Facebook with the theme of the discussion being a glorified version of the blame game: Whose fault was it? The shooter or Society and its lust for violence? In a nutshell my point was this:  True, Society provides a backdrop for some screwball to glorify violence to this extreme. But obviously this screwball had some pre-existing condition that caused this tragedy, but you cant shut down Society or lobotomize and individual because of indeterminate factors. There is not one place to lay the blame and there is not one single solution.
 
Brenda is also right that it could not have been foreseen or prevented:
As I also stated:I also think the need to blame violence in media comes from the fact that the setting for this was a showing of a supposedly violent movie in a theatre and we are in fact trying to blame the movie. What if the setting was different. Remember the McDonald's shootings? No one said we should have less Big Macs. Straw man again but it shows that this may have a substantial element of unpreventability which we may never be able to manage and contain unless all forms of violence are addressed not just that in the entertainment world
 
Your position may have merit from a strictly practical perspective, the wording of the Amendment makes those arguments pretty much irrelevant from a legal standpoint.

Let me explain: The Second Amendment reads, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Now there are three problems with saying we don't have to worry about foreign attacks:

1) The amendment doesn't have a comma at the end followed by, "unless we don't need a militia anymore."  The definitive nature of the clause indicates that the drafters believed this would always be true.  Or that, if it were no longer true, the amendment process would have to be used to change it.  Legally speaking the Second Amendment says, that stuff is necessary.

2) We can't assume that by "the security of a free state" that the drafters only wished to encompass external threats to the nation.  In fact, given the history of the Militia and Minutemen systems going back to their roots in England, militia service was not only though to be required to keep localities in good order, and respond to localized threats (in 1794, Washington called up the militia of four states to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania (first and last time a sitting president led troops into combat) .  Militias were also considered a duty and part of a citizen's civic education.  Things like participating in the local militia and serving on juries fulfilled the societal function of exposing the voting populace to military, legal and political procedures and issues, the idea being that they would then be better equipped to exercise the vote.  In modern times, the right to keep and bear arms could be seen and interpreted as part of that civic (although not legally required) duty.

3) External threats that may, in fact, manifest themselves upon the territory of the United States have, for the first time since the British torched the White House in the War of 1812, surfaced.  Saying our nation isn't subject to external threats like an invasion is true, but those aren't the threats we face in the Post-Cold War world.  Now, whether you believe that armed citizens that happen to be in the right place at the right time would be effective against say, a terrorist attack of some sort isn't really relevant, the Second Amendment, by its wording, presumes it is.and because of that assumption, sets forth the right to keep and bear arms.

I want to reiterate that I'm not saying your argument does't make sense, but it doesn't overturn an Amendment to the United States Constitution.  While the Constitution is flexible to a great degree and should never be construed as a suicide pact, it was set up so that it could not be altered without a great deal of deliberation and consensus building.  And when you think about things like the First Amendment, and how many people would like to get rid of certain parts of it, we should realize that this is a very good thing.
 
+Alex Deucalion , the world is always going to have some violence.  People go crazy or can't get along and well, this isn't the 23rd Century as envisioned by Gene Rodenberry in Star Trek, and it probably never will be.  But blaming the film is ridiculous.  If things like Batman or Star Wars tell us anything it is that violence is only appropriate to defend oneself or others.  It's not like The Batman runs around beating up random innocent people.  And Yoda came right out and told us that The Force is for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

But the blame game happens because...  We don't know why this stuff happens.  It doesn't actually happen often, Even with Columbine and Virginia Tech, etc. the likelihood that any one of us will be caught in a mass shooting is statistically pretty low.  The fact is that some people aren't wired right, or their parents screwed them up or they just never learned how to deal with the vagaries of their life (or any combination of those things)  Some of these people wind up homeless, some get help and a very few of them pull something like this.  Short of some science fiction gadget that would emit a field or something around public spaces that would stop guns or explosives from functioning, I don't see a way to ensure that it never happens again.

But we humans hate to feel powerless, so we look to something to blame in the search for a solution.
 
You are correct: Something falls through the cracks and immediately comes a wave of shock and disbelief followed by choosing a designated scapegoat. The disbelief that ensues from these types of events as well as minor personal misgivings for moral shortcomings can be demonstrated by certain popular slogans like "It's all good"," I didn't do anything wrong" , and life just aint fair, etc..We have these defense mechanism to curtail the anxiety of the tragedies which nhappen unexpectedly in what appears to be concentrated deliberate timing. A timeline of these shootings starting with Oklahome to now might reveal a pattern, I am not saying there is but these things happen to frequently to be random in my opinion. As Hamlet said: "Though this be madness there is yert method in it"
 
You can say things like "The Devil made him do it "or " His parents abused or did not discipline him" or even " he had to be sick in the head". All these debates are moot and the only thing to do is grieve normally,move on, and hope you are not in the line of fire the next time it happens. Life is complicated. So is death
 
 
I sincerely hope that I am presently surprised and that the expected attacks on The Batman and comics and the movies arising from them fail to appear.  The irony is that comic book heroes, like Superman and The Batman arose as a reaction to similar feelings of powerlessness at the Great Depression and it's aftermath.  The Batman was, initially, a fantasy where a mere human being was able to actually do something about many of the ills that we here in reality are generally powerless to stop.

It's odd that the shooter identified himself to Police as The Joker, since that villain has always stood for the darkest side of crime that is not motivated by greed or desperation, but by a strange and abhorrent pathology that we really don't understand today.  It is fortunate that people who are truly this thoroughly twisted and evil don't pop up more often.

That said, there are no excuses for the behavior.  If all the arguments about violence in media and the effects of childhood abuse were as cut and dried, than no child who was abused would grow up to be a non-violent adult and no one with a television would either.  While these things may be a factor in the backgrounds of criminals, they still have free will.  Aside from the few individuals whose mental issues at the time of their crimes actually rise to the level of winning an insanity defense in a court, they make a choice to act on those feelings or to exercise decency and self-control.
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