The Aurora Shootings

The horrendous and calculated, July 20th shootings in Aurora, Colorado, are a great tragedy not just for the victims and their families but for everyone who can clearly see the utter evil of such acts and the helplessness we all feel as a result.

However this massacre might have been far less likely for there are a number of key problems that have gotten virtually no attention in the media and the political demagoguing that has resulted.

1. The patrons of the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises had entered a zone in which there existed no real 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.

And while Colorado has a liberal policy of issuing concealed carry permits for adults over 21 years of age, the City of Aurora and twelve other cities in the state (including Colorado Springs, Denver, Littleton, and Boulder) have adopted local ordinances that prohibit concealed carry permits. In addition, 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 ignorantly made wild claims that the incident proves the failure of concealed carry permits and that America’s gun laws are “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.

Ironically enough the scene of the Columbine High School shootings took place just sixteen miles away on April 20, 1999, where the school zone for blocks also had a strict no-gun policy, giving predators open and unchecked access to murder at will. Contrary to Ebert, the evidence is overwhelming that private ownership of guns is not just a major deterrent to crime but enables rapid responses when crimes occur (see here, here, here, and here).

2. The shootings went on for fifteen minutes with the initial recording at Aurora police at 12:39 am. Fortunately, the theaters are close to the police station which explains the short response time, but the fact remains that the police could only arrive after the fact and no one on the scene was allowed to be armed to stop the assailant. Indeed, most all police response occurs after crimes have been completed and for Cinemark, the decision was to defer such threats solely to the local police, producing the government failure that occurred.

3. While the theater firm bans guns, they encourage customers to come “in costume” as a marketing ploy and even carry “weapons” as characters in the film, including the mass-murdering Bane! And indeed, James Holmes apparently did just that, dressed in full-body armor including helmet and gas mask and carrying a shotgun, rifle, pistol, and gas canisters. The first question then is was no one watching, including all entrances? No, the answer is that the theater believed that people attending “in costume” was just A-Okay and looking like a mass murderer is apparently no reason to check for Cinemark. And why would Warner Brothers have such a hyper-violent film rated PG-13, except to entice unprotected children to see it?

4. Cinemark’s deferring entirely to the government police is also all part of the “Progressive” myth of the Zeitgeist view that holds that the citizenry cannot be trusted or allowed to make their own decisions but instead should be regulated and controlled by secular, government, bureaucratic “elites.” So for Cinemark and the Hollywood culture it works for, being P.C. to have a gun-free zone is a convenient “Progressive” way to be in sync with the entertainment industries’ support for gun control.

5. Finally, the “chic” entertainment culture of gratuitous death, sadism, depravity and torture, a/k/a Quentin Tarantino films, slasher films, gangster films, and vampire films, etc., reflects the post-modern, moral relativist norms in American elite, popular, and youth cultures. Ironically enough, the Obama re-election campaign tried initially to use the film to link the character Bane to Romney and Bain Capital with Obama and Biden the alleged Batman and Robin, but this has completely backfired as the director Christopher Nolan attacked the idea. In addition and despite the violence, the film’s themes are clearly anti-“Progressive” ones of a courageous, private and wealthy citizen (Bruce Wayne) standing up to the incoherent and immoral, “Progressive,” collectivist and statist forces of moral depravity and violence. In this regard, the Zeitgest support now for gun control in response to the Aurora shootings incoherently translates to mean that all innocent and peaceful citizens should be subject to the threat of lethal force by the State if they do not comply with gun control edicts, exactly what the views of the Bane and Joker characters in the films advocate. In other words, for Roger Ebert, Michael Bloomberg, Dianne Feinstein, Piers Morgan, Frank Lautenberg and other “Progressives” (i.e., authoritarians) the solution to a lone nut using lethal force against the innocent is to disarm them and subject everyone to a universal threat of lethal force so long as it is done “scientifically” and “fairly” by their revered, secular State.

David J. Theroux (1949–2022) was Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Institute.
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