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Discussion: Does Aurora Massacre Change Our View of Personal Safety?

A discussion point since 9/11, will the mayhem at the Batman movie make us rethink security at movie theaters, malls or school events? Join the discussion.

At least 12 dead and dozens injured, several seriously.

One gunman and one crowded theater.

The specter of copycats.

Santa Cruz County residents woke up Friday morning to live video coming from Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes, a young gunman reportedly wearing a gas mask and a bulletproof vest, opened fire during a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, a movie expected to gross $200 million this weekend.

The number of deaths and injuries wasn't confirmed at the time this story published. But no matter what the final numbers are, there is one definitive: It's a tragedy.

Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 2001, Americans have been on various levels of alert, but anyone with an ounce of cynicism has recognized that movie theaters, malls and school events—so-called soft targets because they are gathering locations with little security—are ripe for domestic terror or deranged madmen.

The Friday morning massacre at the Century 16 in Aurora took place 19 miles and 13 years from Columbine High, but it’s the kind of tragedy that can open up wounds in every region in America.

While the Central Coast has not experienced violence on the level of a massacre, loss of life from gang-motivated crimes, car crashes, domestic violence and natural disasters weighs heavy on people.

All such events—not just the local ones—remind us of just how vulnerable we are.

And they bring the specter of copycats who think they can do it just a little better—or bigger.  

Do we keep the status quo and prove that we haven’t been beaten, or do we make changes because we want to see next year, want to see our kids get married and our grandkids grow up?

The incident Friday morning is likely to start a discussion—a very real, very serious discussion—about personal safety in public places.

Let's start it here.

Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security, or will a thick dude in a yellow jacket be enough to stop someone carrying a gun who wants to get in with or without a ticket? Will there be no more dress-up at the theater, which apparently allowed the Aurora gunman to enter with a handgun, a rifle, a gas canister and a gas mask?

What do you think this morning in light of Aurora, the newest name in tragedy?

Jennifer Squires July 20, 2012 at 05:01 PM
This hits home for me. I grew up in Springfield, Ore. In 1998 we experienced what was (at that time) the worst school shooting on record in the U.S. Kip Kinkel killed his parents—one of whom was my Spanish teacher—before going to school at Thurston High and shooting 24 classmates. Two died. I attended the other high school in town, but I remember the fear, confusion and devastation of that day and the weeks after. We worked on a "Never Again" campaign (ribbons, educational videos, etc) for months after but the reality was these are not things that can be predicted. That's what makes the threat of random, mass violence so ominous and frightening.
Jacob Bourne (Editor) July 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM
What does this say about the state of gun control in the U.S.? Those in staunch support of the right to bear arms are often stubborn even when faced with cases like this. Any thoughts?
Kris Marriott July 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I implore everyone to not let fear and panic overrun reason. These two human responses bread things like totalitarianism and McCarthyism. If you wish to start screaming that we need more gun control or worse a ban, look at the numbers reported by the UK since it has banned firearms. Their violent and firearm related crimes have almost double since they banned firearms for personal ownership.
David H. Perez July 20, 2012 at 06:57 PM
You're right, Kris. And there is a quote I remember from the 1960's or 1970's that goes: "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."
David H. Perez July 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Jacob - No doubt this was a tragic event. But your statement makes as much sense as suggesting cars should be outlawed because drunk drivers kill people. As in the quotation I shared with Kris below, if guns are outlawed, it is only the good responsible people, who are not the problem, who will follow the law. The bad guys will still get the guns. So those of us non-criminals who own guns should still be allowed to protect ourselves. Just like people who don't drink should still be allowed to drive cars.
David H. Perez July 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Sorry to hear of your experience in Oregon. It's so sad to think we can't even go to the movies or go to Starbucks without the risk of being victims of violence. In Watsonville, my wife and I cannot even sit and watch television in the evening without the fear that someone will drive by and shoot through our front window. Last night's Palm Avenue shooting was only a couple of blocks from our house. What is happening to people???
Cathy P. July 20, 2012 at 07:22 PM
"Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security, or will a thick dude in a yellow jacket be enough to stop someone carrying a gun who wants to get in with or without a ticket? Will there be no more dress-up at the theater, which apparently allowed the Aurora gunman to enter with a handgun, a rifle, a gas canister and a gas mask?" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If we implement these ideas, the criminals (or those seeking to do harm) win.
Ashley S. July 20, 2012 at 07:23 PM
There is no denying the fact that if he had wielded a knife instead of a gun (multiple guns in this case), he would not have been able to wound over 70 people, killing 12 of them (so far).
Kris Marriott July 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. Robert A. Heinlein
David H. Perez July 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
That is true, Ashley, but who would have attempted to pull off an act like this with a knife in a big movie crowd? But the reality is, even if guns were outlawed, psychos like him would still be able to get them if they want them bad enough. The war on drugs has not worked, so what makes anyone think outlawing guns will solve the problem? Maybe if honest people had been allowed to pack a gun in that theater, that psycho could have been taken out before he had time to shoot all those people.
Watzon McWats July 20, 2012 at 09:40 PM
No, this shooting, even if it had happened closer to home, does not change the way I look at personal safety. These are freak incidents carried out by mentally impaired persons. It'd be different if it were a gang related or financially motivated crime, but we have no control over people "snapping". I don't think it's worth punishing the public with metal detectors, security guards, new rules, etc. I'd likely avoid patronizing a place like that as I don't like feeling as if I live in a police state. Sometimes you just gotta take it easy and accept the basic risks in life. It's not worth stressing over stuff like this on a day to day basis. Stress less, beach more.
Kris Marriott July 20, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Agreed.
Kris Marriott July 20, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Ashley, there is also the fact that he could have very well walked into that theater with a bomb sat down like any other patron there, and then asked to be let out of the middle of that theater to go to the restroom leaving the bomb behind. If a person chooses to commit an act like this they will find the guns they're looking for. If they can find the firearms, then they will employ other methods.
David H. Perez July 20, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Well said, Watzon!
Marti Long July 22, 2012 at 05:41 PM
The Brady Bill should be revamped and implemented into law, protecting the 2nd amendment - the right to bear arms, but get the background check by law enforcement a mandatory law, to keep these gun magazines out of the hands of everyone, if past killers had been checked out, many political figues would not have been shot (beginning with President Kennedy & Martin Luther King). We live in a very violent society, due to video games, media, movies, etc., and young people have been exposed to and fed violence since they were born. It is a generation of immediate gratification, because of technology, and the NRA has enabled this young person to simply purchase these destructive weapons which kill people in massive amounts so easily...........It is horrific what has happend, and there is no responsibility by our great country to admit our mistakes in handing out these weapons with no background, no waiting, no inquiry/notification to law enforcement??? Anyone can walk into a gun shop and buy these weapons if they want to - what is wrong with this picture??? It is insanity at it's best promoted by the NRA, and politically fueled by money.
Marti Long July 22, 2012 at 05:49 PM
"Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania , was more emphatic than many in the early hours after the shooting. " Everyone is scared of the NRA", he said on MSNBC." Number one, there are some things worth losing in politics and to be able to PREVENT carnage like this is worth losing for." We can still keep the 2nd amendment, just amend it, so that every mentally ill person, can not walk into a gun shop and purchase a magazine clip that is capable of shooting 40 bullets in a few seconds, is that too much to ask?? The NRA can defend the constitution, but get with it, if one of their family members was murdered in cold blood while sitting in a movie theatre, they might reconsider who should be able to puchase this horrible equipment/weapons which kill massively all at once - don't you think? You might as well hand over bombs to kids to play with.........
Just One Vote July 22, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Here's another case of idealism crashing into reality. My dad used to say, "Locks are made for honest people". Our local and national legislators try to regulate our behavior, but laws are only as effective as their oversight and enforcement. So instead of enacting more laws, maybe we need to have a comprehensive conversation about the rights AND responsibilities conferred by our constitution. For example, if James Holmes had the right to buy 4 guns at local gun stores, did he also have the right to purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition, bomb-making supplies and protective armor on the internet? Was there any oversight by his credit card company on these questionable transactions and shipments? Why do some laws confer rights and ignore responsibilities when the consequence can be so deadly. The answers lie within our politics because the internet isn't regulated like a domestic business. So how can our nation protect it's citizens without taking away the freedoms that built it? I believe we must all keep thinking, talking and writing. That's what the founding fathers did when they conceived this "grand experiment" called the United States of America. We should do no less.
Kris Marriott July 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Well said Geni. Though the internet regulation is a bit of a stretch for me. If I walk into several different gun shops around the area, I'm sure I could come up with that much ammo, and bomb making supplies are often household products that can be obtained in the same manor as I mentioned with ammo. We can't stop all of this without marshal law, and that is absolutely no way to live.
Marti Long July 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Keep the right to bear arms for ones own safety, just modify the law, so that it is not so darn easy for anyone to buy these type of clip magazines, which no american should ever have in their home for protection, no person on this planet should be able to buy those, except the federal government for use to defend out country at war. It is hideous to think that this could not be repeated if the laws stay as they are, and any one can buy these gun clips that fire off repeated rounds of amunition - all those people would not have been killed, if the Brady laws had remained in place years ago - let's take responsibility for placing this stuff in a sick persons' hands, which should never have happened. Law enforcement can do backgrounds, and records should be kept on who, why, it is necessary to buy such equipment.
Derek Vela July 23, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Will century 16 be open again or closed down forever and I highly doubt anyone will go another theater again. Oh man I wish I had a time machine so I can go back in time to prevent this massacre to ever happen.

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