1. The patrons of the midnight showing ofThe Dark Knight Riseshad entered a zone in which there existednoreal protection of any kind against acts of violence. The theater chain owned by Cinemark maintains a strict no-gun position, not just for customers but for all employees, including security personnel. Of course, the theater has full right to ban guns for its customers not just for safety purposes but to keep insurance costs to a minimum, but I draw the line when it also includes security personnel, deferring the only security to the local government police.
In addition and while Colorado has a liberal policy of issuing concealed carry permits for adults over 21 years of age, most of the theater goers were under-age for such permits. Furthermore, at midnight the rest of the shopping center area was closed and deserted of employees and patrons, so that aid from others was not possible. Nevertheless, film critic Roger Ebert has predictably and ignorantlymade wild claimsthat the incident proves the failure of concealed carry permits and that America’s gun laws as “insane.”
That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended.
It seemed unlikely to me that there wouldn’t be someone in such a group that might have been armed. Maybe they “acted responsibly” by not firing blind at an armored target in a cloud of smoke or tear gas. Or maybe, when the time came, the decision to intervene was a bigger decision than they were prepared for.
It seemed unlikely, that is, until I learned that not only did the theater have the ineffective “no weapons” policy, but that also the city of Aurora is among the cities in Colorado that have ordinances prohibiting concealed carry and discharge of firearms, excepting law enforcement personnel, of course. These ordinances may be subject to preemption by Colorado state law, but the combination of local ordinances and property owner policy greatly diminishes, in my mind, the likelihood that an armed citizen was on scene.
I doubt that we will ever know for sure.