Aurora Tragedy Shines Spotlight On Medical Schools

Aurora, Colorado: As families and friends of the victims of today's tragic shootings gather to mourn for the departed, a storm of suspicion is gathering over the institution some say is at the heart of the nation's recent epidemic of mass homicides, the American medical school.

In the early hours of confusion surrounding the attacks at a screening of "The Dark Night Rises" at an Aurora movie theater, some media outlets and politicians erroneously tied the shootings to the Tea Party movement, the Democratic Party, violent videogames, and enemies of Judeo-Christianity. But as details on the shooter emerge, a clearer picture is coming into focus. The sole suspect in the shootings, James Holmes, was a recent drop-out from the University of Colorado medical school.

Experts caution that it is too early to say that the suspect's medical education led him down a path ending in mass murder, but many are reminded of Dr. Nidal Hassan, who is presently awaiting trial for his role in the Fort Hood shootings of November 2009, and who, like James Holmes, attended medical school.

"I don't want to speculate on whether attending medical school inspired the Batman killer's rampage," said Professor Lewis Deery of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in an interview on MSNBC, "but the similarities are eerie. Here you have one graduate of a medical school opening fire, with no apparent motive, on innocent people on an Army base, and here you have another man who attended medical school opening fire, with no apparent motive, on innocent people at a midnight movie. Am I saying that these men were trained to kill when they attended medical school? No, but that possibility can't be discounted based on the limited information we have at this time."

In a roundtable discussion on the Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends, Ariel Spain of the Columbia School of Journalism's Tragedy Studies Department echoed Professor Deery's caution concerning the Dark Knight shooter's medical background. "It would be irresponsible, and reckless, to claim that James Holmes was programmed to become an unthinking assassin at the Colorado medical school simply because of the countless cases in which medical school graduates have gone on murder sprees, but many are asking themselves, right now, about the similarities between the Aurora shootings and the case of Dr. Jeffrey McDonald, who murdered his entire family in the 1970s. In both cases, I'll note, the murderer attended a highly regarded medical school.

Following a moment of silence for the fallen in the United States House of Representatives, House majority leader Eric Cantor promised a grieving nation that its Congress would conduct a full investigation into the causes of the Aurora shootings. "It's far too early to say whether the nefarious crimes of the infamous assassin James Eagan Holmes were the work of insidious medical professors, transforming our nation's best and brightest into psychopathic killing machines. But," Cantor informed the House, "the American people have a right to know."

Across the capital, Attorney General Eric Holder convened a news conference on the killings, promising federal aid to Colorado authorities in conducting full, fair, and impartial investigation into the tragedy. "I cannot comment on specifics of the case at this time, and  it would be imprudent for me to speculate on who may be responsible for these horrific crimes at the outset of an investigation, but let me assure the grieving people of Aurora that the Department of Justice will hold all those who aided and abetted this tragedy responsible, from the lowest professor to the Dean of the medical college himself."

Historians of past calamities reiterated the Attorney General's warning against pre-judging the case. On C-Span's Books in Review, Dr. Thomas Waltham of the American University's Department of European History warned against a "witch hunt" in connection with the Aurora case. "Time and again, we historians see cases in which the people are led, by politicians, the media, and religious leaders into demonizing some despised minority for the actions of one. That only compounds the tragedy. It would be reckless to tie the Batman shootings into some historical framework of past atrocities by medical school graduates, such as the infamous "Doctor's Plot" in the Soviet Union, where prosecutors showed that a sinister cabal of people who, just like Nidal Hassan and the Batman killer, attended medical school had committed an unspeakably vile series of murders aimed at destabilizing and overthrowing the government."

Representatives of the American Association of Medical Colleges, which represents medical schools including the Colorado institution where James Eagan Holmes was allegedly trained, were contacted for comment, but did not return telephone calls before this story went to press.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. Zach says

    too soon, but not in the "I'm offended" sense. this is an excellent post, just way too soon for it to actually come across as funny or insightful.

  2. Debra says

    This strikes me immediately as an excellent example of correlation not equaling causation.

  3. swearyanthony says

    Brilliant, and savage. A++ And dear god the comments on this post are going to be amazing. BRB microwaving popcorn.

    (Sorry Ken, but after Screwtape and this, you're gonna have to lift your game)

  4. Charley says

    I can't honestly tell if this post is serious or not. However, if it is an attempt at humor or satire then it is in incredibly poor taste.

  5. says

    If I were a drinking man, I'd take a drink for every comment made that indicates the poster has a seriously broken sarcasm detector. I daresay I'd be dead of acute alcohol poisoning within the hour. As it is, I shall, instead, consume one very high-sodium, high-calorie, pita chip per such comment. Thus, my heirs will become the subject of this blog when they file a ridiculous lawsuit blaming it for my demise due to high blood pressure and/or obesity.

  6. David says

    Well, I think the implications are obvious: we must shut down all medical schools, all across the country, immediately. Failure to act in light of this overwhelming evidence would be irresponsible and unconscionable.

  7. different Jess says

    Let's not forget one Raymond J. Clark, III, who only murdered one person (and didn't even use a gun!), presumably because as a lowly laboratory technician at Yale School of Medicine he had gotten only a fraction of the murderous training that "physicians" receive. Then again, with so many doctors around, it does seem a bit convenient that a lab tech emerges as the fall guy.

  8. ChimpZilla says

    Charley, look at what is already going around the web. People are already starting to try to make this a partisan issue. People are already starting to try to lay blame at someone greater than just the shooter. This post is a call to sanity, if nothing else. Something to make you sit back and realize that jumping to conclusions is pointless.

    Put another way, please fix your sarcasm detector and realize why this article exists.

  9. says

    I get the point. It's even witty. And I think the parallels are well-drawn. However, just in my opinion, it's simply appallingly disrespectful to post this so soon after the incident. It shows a lack of respect or compassion for those who died and those who are still bleeding. It'd be appropriate in a few days. Just my two cents. I'm not trying to advocate censorship; I'm just expressing my own opinion about what you wrote.

  10. Zachary says

    @Mike Harris- if this is innapropriate how much more innapropriate, then, is it for the people he's satirizing to make this into a political issue?

  11. Talisker says

    It's no more disrespectful than any sincerely-intentioned musing of cause that conveniently fits one's pre-existing bogeymen; and there's no shortage of those out there already.

  12. Brian says

    "just way too soon for it to actually come across as funny or insightful."

    I didn't even think he was trying to be funny. But the exaggeration seemed pretty insightful to me. The only problem is that the only people who will get it aren't the ones who are most guilty of this. So it's more of an "echo chamber" post than anything else.

  13. En Passant says

    This just in — construction crew stumbles upon a never before seen Shakespearean folio.

    From Henry's Smarter Brother, Part 2, Act 4, Scene 2:

    All: Snort my taint, your majesty!

    Cade: I thank you, good people—there shall be an individual mandate; I shall score drink aplenty, and everyone shall wear bling, that they may get it on like brothers, and pay me proper respect.

    Dick: The first thing we do, let's kill all the doctors.

    Cade: Nay, that I mean to do

  14. Peter says

    It's some nice satire, and I agree with the sentiment.

    I have to also agree, though, that it's too soon for it to be particularly funny. It doesn't offend or come off as in bad taste, but the numbness about this whole thing hasn't really broken yet. Then again, I'm wondering if sitting on this for another day or two before posting it would have ruined the topicality.

    Regardless, very well done.

  15. says

    I wonder if there's not something suspicious about these shadowy locations that many of these foul Medical Students end up moving on to, these "hospitals". I notice an awful lot of people who go to these places _die_. At a far higher rate I would wager, than any other type of building.

    I think we're through the looking glass here, people.

  16. Nicholas Weaver says


    Personally, I blame the manufacturers of sneakers. Why? Because its not widely reported, but the shooter was wearing shoes, and without shoes, his feet would have stuck to the theater floor…

  17. Shane says

    Seeing all of this go down, and all I can think is … the answer to "bad" guns is more guns. I utterly respect private property and a movie theater is just that, but how can the owners of that theater sleep at night? The craziest part is that with cell phones and a lightning response from the police (1 min.) this crazed phuck was still able to down so many people. Sadly it won't won't be the aspiring doctors that are disarmed in the future, nice satire though.

  18. Nicholas Weaver says

    Shane: There is no way someone carrying concealed could have done Jack Shit about this: Dark, loud movie, a gas grenade of some sort, and a perpetrator armed with an AR rifle, a shotgun, a .40 semi auto, wearing body armor… At best, someone who pulled out a gun to shoot back would have gotten shot for his trouble.

    OTOH, to put it in perspective, deer have probably killed far more people so far this year than shooters in movie theaters. So do your part for public safety: buy a rifle, go out there, and kill Bambi….

  19. says

    Getting out of character:

    Shane, do you own a gun? Are you advocating concealed carry in a movie theater?

    It's dark. There are loud noises from the sound system. Some lunatic starts shooting. Ten guys jump up and also start shooting in attempt to hit the original shooter.

    Concealed carry in a movie theater is like attaching turbojets to the Hindenburg.

  20. Orville says

    I come here for intelligent snark and satire. While this post qualifies, the wound is too raw for me to like it or think it is in good taste.

    Nevertheless, you have a first amendment right to write things I find crass and objectionable. In that light this is a perfect Popehat post.

    I will now exercise my rights and walk away from this conversation.

  21. Shane says

    Lulz @Nicholas, Imagine in some demented video game fantasy that you are in the shooters place. You walk in toss some tear gas, start shooting. Come on now you know you have played this video game before. Now imagine that the "zombies" that you are shooting at, all of a sudden have guns and they think that your brains might be tasty if only they could slow you down. I don't care who you are, when bullets come back, even if you know that you are safe behind bullet proof vests, your level of caution jumps several notches. And this is all the time necessary to drop the body count.

  22. says

    Tsarina, why not just ban people! cant murder people without…er…people! PLUS! (and really this is the hidden gem in all this) no more traffic jams! Imagine being able to go across town in minutes instead of hours for that latte…unless you're a person because then you'd be banned…but…er…ok…look, the theory's sound! just some issues to work out is all

  23. Graham Martin says

    Too soon. (And this is coming from someone who thought Gilbert Gottfried's tweeted jokes re Japan's tsunami were funny.)

    Still love you guys, but a tad too soon.

  24. says

    The truly remarkable thing is that there's already so much material to satirize. If you think Patrick's post is making light of the actual tragedy, pause and consider the many attention-seeking policy prescriptions written in the twelve hours' wake of these murders. That isn't taking this tragedy seriously.

  25. different Jess says

    Of course following Cooper's 3rd and 4th rules we never touch the trigger until we're sure of what we're aiming at and what's beyond it. That would make a dark crowded room a challenging scenario. Certainly I don't feel qualified to shoot in most such situations. My first reaction to seeing a live nonfictional shooter would probably be to hit the floor. I would only draw my firearm if I judged that I could do so without endangering anyone other than the criminal. If I can give Shane a bit of credit, he's probably envisioning a situation in which say 20% of adults would be carrying. In that case, it's very likely that there is an armed citizen directly behind the criminal. I'll let that person take the shot.

    Guns are bad and scary and dangerous, certainly, but few law-abiding adults forget these facts when they begin carrying on a regular basis.

  26. says

    Graham, if I'd posted a flag at half mast today, and posted this tomorrow, would that assuage you? If so, why?

    Why is it inappropriate to satirize a media-political establishment that thinks nothing of exploiting tragedy in real time, in real time?

    Are you that shallow?

  27. AlphaCentauri says

    I hope family members are keeping off the internet and cable news shows right now. This post is not so offensive as the news commentators who are serious about their postulations. There's not much they can listen to anywhere that won't be clawing at a raw wound.

    Every time something like this happens, every Muslim in the US silently prays, "Please, don't let it be a Muslim." If Patrick's post makes people feel offended, maybe that will make them rethink the prejudices that lead to those unfounded accusations as well as those drunken Friday night attacks on members of the accused minority group.

    Doctors can deal with this kind of satire, of course. Their tolerance for black humor is very high.

  28. Nicholas Weaver says

    (I don't know why I'm replying to Shane, but…)

    Shane: Have you ever fired a pistol? I'm thinking not, because if you did, you'd know its remarkably non-trivial to hit a chest sized target under controlled conditions at the range at 15 yards, under calm, well lit conditions.

    Now try it in the dark, in a noisy movie theater, when under fire from someone with a rifle and a shotgun, against a target wearing body armor, and where a miss will kill a bystander.

    Have you ever played paintball? I'm thinking not, because you would know that until you actually get hit, its remarkably easy (far too easy, in fact) to ignore incoming fire when you are focusing on other targets.

    So it very hard to hit, and misses do no good. So said mythical armed bystander would, if lucky, not make the problem worse…. In practice, it would probably add a couple to the injury or fatality list.

    Adam: Unfortunately true. Eg, you have the "hey, if someone had a gun" policy camp (bullshit), you have the brady camp (uhh, bullshit, these were legal guns and there was NO reason for the shooter not to be allowed them), you have the "its the tea party", the "its OWS", etc…

  29. Linus says

    Too soon? For what? Too soon for Ken to write about how people are rushing to crazy, totally unsupportable links and correlations? Eesh.

    On a not-totally-unrelated note, boy, there sure are a lot of commenters here nowadays.

  30. ThOR says

    Yes, appallingly disrespectful, but in a good way.

    I was laughing out loud (sorry, I’m too old to use the initialism).

    Thank you. I needed that.

  31. Laura K says

    I'm with Patrick on the timing. Not that he needs my help in the slightest. Even though I made my first widow joke at dinner the night of my late husband's funeral. It made Steve's best friend snarf corn beef up his nose. We all felt a little better. Except for the friend's nose.

  32. Kelly says

    I say it is perfectly timed. What is going on already in the media is a billionty times worse than this could be. Oh, haven't you heard…apparently because we have separation of church and state these things happen. *facepalm*

  33. Shane says

    @Patrick, I used to own a shotgun, haven't gotten a concealed. I have worked as bouncer in a bar in downtown Phoenix. (Hoping that my guess is right and you understand what that means) I have had some pretty agonizing situations when it has come to crowds. From what I have seen on the news and my own experience, I can say with a high probability this: most people that are not the gunman are low running or on the ground flat. The only upright person will likely be the gunman (because he needs vantage to kill those on the ground). Those that might have had guns will be down because they don't need vantage, they will probably use cover. Those that would have had guns after a few seconds may be shooting back, but the their shots will be upward angled (reducing likelihood of friendly fire). If the gunman feels that he might be gunned down and just a guess a hit in a bullet proof vest might make one feel that way (I have been hit by a cold paintball, certainly gets one's attention), he is going to cover losing his vantage. Saving many people, because now he has to shoot through obstacles and he is blind. Mayhem yes, but I am willing to bet in the alternate universe body count would be MUCH lower.

    As to 10 people (girls can carry too :P ) jumping up to start shooting back. I find that scenario to be most unlikely. When bullets are fired your first instinct is to get down. If you have no ability to retaliate or you don't think it is a good idea then your next instinct is to get away. For those that want to retaliate then the next thing on your mind is personal safety hence cover. With that brings my argument that "good" guys shooting up and bad guy shooting down.

    Yes Patrick, I am advocating conceals in a movie theater. I believe in private property as I stated and I think it is up to the theater owner to decide, but YES resoundingly. Brief walk by the TV and the byline on Fox is will movie theaters face more government scrutiny? Just read the popehat's TSA post. Will the TSA now control access to movies? This is how all of this gets started because we as people fear guns. When I was 11ish my grandfather taught me how to shot his .22. He also taught my how to use a radial arm saw. His lesson to me was this, this a tool that is to be respected not feared. Once you fear it it will always be your master.

    kk I have ranted enough, and I stand by my thought that more guns is a solution to bad guns.

  34. says

    I gotta ask… why is it "too soon" for a post satirizing the Rush to Judgment?

    Are we supposed to wait until the pundits and policymakers are done with their finger pointing and blame assessment before their ridiculous fear mongering can be mocked?

    I don't get from this post that Patrick is making light of the tragedy. Not at all. He's making light of the fact that there are a large number of opportunists out there who will use this tragedy to further an agenda.

    Too soon? Nope. Right on time, IMO.

  35. bav says

    Follow-up: The news story I linked has changed a bit from how it was when I read it a couple of hours ago, where the title in the URL was the headline of the page, with the stunning news that he was dropping out of med school being the first 2 paragraphs and the rest the standard information in news reports given to that point.

  36. egd says

    This strikes me immediately as an excellent example of correlation not equaling causation.

    More people die under the care of physicians than any other profession.

    Check the stats people, these guys are dangerous.

  37. ZK says

    Look, I don't think now is the time to go three rounds about guns, gun control, or how great/terrible concealed carry is, but:

    @Patrick: A firefight in a movie theater is obviously not a great thing, but these sort of "everyone jumps up and starts shooting each other" scenarios are predicted constantly in all sorts of settings, but never seem to happen, for whatever reason.

    @Nicholas Weaver: Hitting a man-sized target at 15 yards, even in low-light, sure isn't simple, but isn't exactly rocket science, either.

    Besides, I think Shane's point, articulated poorly, is that killers of this cowardly ilk don't need to be hit to stop them. They need to meet resistance. Over and over, active shooters don't fight it out with first-responders: they give up at once.

    I think the biggest counter-argument to Shane's point is simply that there aren't that many people that want to bother to carry a gun, as this sort of thing is still as rare as lightning strikes.

  38. Shane says

    @Nicholas please don't insult me, I really don't deserve that.

    As to never having shot a pistol. I am actually quite a remarkable shot. The ending of my shooting career came early when my uncle took down a deer. It was cold and snowy and I had slogged through the under brush trying to be quiet when my uncle tracked the animal and cut it down. That was it. Seeing that innocent creature there, and then having to gut it, did me in. After that I only shot on the range a bit and in the military and at summer camp. It seems that as you get older ammunition gets more expensive so I have not practiced as much with handguns.

    And also yes to paintball. I played with my friends in the barracks in the military and also on a real honest to gawd acre of ground not this weird excuse that passes for a field now. We used to keep our paint in coolers to make sure that didn't splatter in the older guns. The field that I played on at the end of the day would get all of the people that were playing to go up against 5 FAC's. It usually didn't end well for us noobs, but it was great fun :)

    Nicholas the problem that you are facing is that YOU are no good with guns. That does not mean that everyone is that way. I am OK with you not wanting to carry, I won't even force you to :P But I draw the line in your assessment. You don't have enough information to understand the situation and your fear is showing that.

  39. Grifter says


    To be fair, before the explosion, turbojets on the Hindenburg would look pretty badass.

  40. Shane says

    @ZK I think that the problem is that the theater does not allow conceals. This is typical of most places where large groups of people tend to congregate. I agree with the theater though, in that it is their property.

    And tanks for pointing out my poor articulation :|

  41. ZK says

    Apparently I've read in a point where there wasn't one. My apologies.

    In any case, like everyone else, I'm confident this tragedy proves my politics and worldview are correct, while showing the complete futility and ridiculousness of my opponents' worldviews.

  42. AlphaCentauri says

    And just so Ken can once again point out that when you outsource your marketing, you outsource your reputation, a couple tweets this morning had to be deleted. Apparently the overseas workers or automated bots making them hadn't heard the news yet:

    American Rifleman Magazine @NRA_rifleman:
    Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans? @celebboutique
    #Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;) Shop: [link]

  43. Jess says

    Ah, the media, in fine form as always, looking for some reason or some source to blame for a tragedy other than the fact the perpetrator was either a nut-job or a self-centered narcissistic piece of shit that didn’t have the good sense to off himself instead of going after someone else.. Sometimes a screwed up nut-job is just a screwed up nut-job and it can’t always be predicted when, where, or even if, they will blow. The news stories say his mother "knew they had the right person", without even hearing the news. So it’s likely he must have previously been exhibiting signs of mental illness.

    Another note in the story stated “The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents” I’ve no idea why any parent would think it appropriate to bring a 3 month old to the movie theater.

  44. Spencer says

    First male models and the fashion industry, now our MDs. White lab coats of evil!

  45. Edward Brennan says

    this seems like such a straw man, no wait, make that a Scarecrow argument. It is never too soon to make light of the media/social response.

    Thoughts and prayers, however, to victims and families, thanks to responders who appear from a distance to a marvelous job. I went to a midnight showing about five miles from that theater, to say that the killer chills me to the bone is an understatement.

  46. Ben says

    I do agree with the notion that a well armed populace is a deterrent to the kind of instability that causes someone to do something like this. Firearms can be used for defense, but with a ballistic vest and helmet in a dark theater where a shooter was covering their position with smoke? It seems one would have to be an Olympic level marksman with incredible presence of mind to have reliably made such a shot. Or very fortunate, I suppose.

    My brother is an avid firearms enthusiast and even he does not go about his daily life armed. His firearms are either at his house, his condominium or at the firing range (with him).

    So unless there was a skilled marksman in that theater, I do not see how another firearm would have necessarily helped anyone involved.

  47. AlphaCentauri says

    Someone who shows up clad in Kevlar is planning to be shot at and to continue about his business regardless.

  48. George William Herbert says

    Regarding armed people in the theater…

    There are about 800,000 police officers in the US (BLS statistics fro 2010: 794,000). Roughly 1 in 400 people in the country, or 0.8% of total employment, plus or minus epsilon.

    If you have a theater with say 200 people in it, there's about a 50% chance just on random odds that a police officer is in there already, off duty, with friends or family just watching the movie like anyone else.

    Not every police officer carries a gun off duty, but it's become increasingly prevalent. They are trained in conditions of darkness and chaos.

    There wasn't one in Aurora. Unfortunately.

    This sort of puts a practical upper limit on random shootings. If you go for a big enough victim crowd, you catch an armed off duty cop. In many states, you also catch armed civilians with CCW permits. Even if the resulting gunfight is a mess, the odds are high that the good guys do stop the gunman. Among other things, with a crowd, the gunman surrenders initiative once they start shooting, because they can't watch all their victims at once.

    This is an almost worst case scenario to be that off-duty cop or armed civilian in, but it's also not a lost cause.

    As for marksmanship, with distractions (other gunshots and casings bouncing off me) and in low light, I can rapidly put a pistol magazine at 10 yards into or directly next to a tennis ball (detected by the ball jumping around). I have regrettably actually been shot at, but not in a situation where I shot back, so I don't know exactly how bad my response would get, but police SWAT and military I have talked to say figure 3-4 times worse. A tennis ball is about 2.6 inches diameter, so something like 8 inch groups at 10 meters. That's about the size of a head and far smaller than a chest.

    Professionals who train at least that well (and all of them SHOULD) then should be able to handle this without being unable to hit at all at, though someone's ability to panic and shoot wildly can never be completely ruled out (less so for actual combat veterans with enough experience).

  49. Chris says

    I'm more offended by the speculation, which this article takes a shot at more then the actual event itself. As each minute goes by thousands of idiots, seriously, spew their beliefs as fact that this was politically motivated. Who will stand against that? Who will defend the integrity of the people who are now dead? As idiots speculate should we wait? Let them get out as many stupid ideas as possible before telling people the truth? That we have no idea why this happened and we will not have a clue until an investigation has been conducted and completed so let the idiots speculate while we show some sort of "respect" by remaining silent?

    That is bogus. This post would not be necessary without those idiots doing their "jobs". Using these deaths to spread political discourse, and not responding is entirely disrespectful and irresponsible. Refusing to talk about it in any fashion because someone is mourning would be more acceptable, but lets all accept that that just isn't going to happen.

  50. Basil Forthrightly says

    I don't think we should limit the view of the problem to just medical schools, this is obviously the fault of STEM culture gone wild. I mean, it takes an engineer to design a gas chamber, amiright?

  51. says

    I chuckled. However, whistling in the dark is my way of getting through life, so it's never too soon for me.

  52. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says

    Regarding hypothetical armed patrons, skeptics are almost certainly right about the ability the ability to take down an armored attacker under these conditions. Still, a fighting chance, even a slim one, seems better than none. Also, an armed patron would not necessarily have to succeed. Simply occupying the attacker's attention for a short period of time could provide other patrons a better opportunity to flee to safety.

  53. Sean says

    You guys kid…but medical school is the pointlessly sadistic and educationally irrational by-product of an occupational licensing raj that keeps the supply of health care in a state of permanent artificial scarcity.

    If only we COULD get away with blaming it, just to bring the issue under discussion! But sadly, these incidents can only be exploited in one direction: that of more laws, more police powers, less freedom, etc.

    That's why there's always a "Kaylee's Law" in the hopper, but one simply never hears about "Megan's Proposed Repeal of IC 35-45-4".

  54. says

    Speaking as a Canadian here…I can't believe that people can argue "more guns" and specifically concealed guns are the answer here…the US gets more and more terrifying the more I hear about it…jebus *shakes head*

  55. Tarrou says

    Not too soon. The trillion bullshit speculations twelve hours ago were too soon. We're already a day behind in catching up with the idiocy.

  56. says

    IMHO all of these sorts of stories should begin coverage as something like

    "Today in the area, some pathetic douchetard who was desperate to achieve a relevance he neither merits nor deserves acted out as it typical of the limp-dicked breed. The nation responds with derision and scorn appropriate to the feckless and pathetic cry for attention."

    Then the case number should be announced, and all parties reported as suspects would be forever reported without name nor image simply as casenumber-stroke-one and casenumber-stroke-two and so on.

    Finally, if convicted, the persons entire name should be stricken from all records and replaced with a prisioner ID number (sort of the information age equivalent of the Ancient Egypt treatment).

    We have created, as a side effect of media sensationalism, a society where, to claim the title of "baddest ass you know" you had to out-do "columbine". Now you will have to out do "batman".

    Before this cult of ultimate media infamy, the baddest kid you knew spray painted Floyd the Barber's door, so to top him you only needed to throw a brick through the window. That is "baddest ass" was a purely local rumor-grade infamy.

    Now to stand out you have to stand out on a world-wide stage. That alone is a heck of a lot of pressure.

    So if the wages of ass-hattery was anonymity and erasure, it wouldn't be something to strive for.

    Think too of how different the world would have been if, on 9/12 the president came out with a speech about the tantrum thrown by a fading organization struggling for relevance on the world stage, that was now going to have to be found and spanked like the petulant child it has become? (etc)

    The very tone of "this is the worst event-type-X since the last 'worst event-type-X' event from date Y committed by infamous party Z" creates an air of competitive inflation.

    So to do the "outpourings" of various uninvolved parties creating the shrines of public misery. Yea its great that you have decided to be "shocked" or otherwise emotionally invested in something that not only didn't happen to you, but didn't happen to anybody you knew of before hand. You have made yourself collateral damage by constructing a personal emotional harm from a sad-sack event unrelated to you at all. How happy do you think that "splash damage" is making the attention-seeking pain-monger butthead?

    If you do feel bad, then keep it -private-. If you go there and raise a shrine you are doing the opposite of discouraging future actors-out.

  57. says

    @Patrick — Turbojets on the Hindenburg would have rocked… and likely prevented the accident since it would have been able to avoid trying to land in the storm.

    Rocket launchers… rocket launchers would have been a bad addition to the Hindenburg.

    And ramjets just wouldn't have worked out at all, of if there were going to be jets, they'd need to be turbojets…

    Just Sayin…

  58. says

    @Shane I'm not saying Canadians are "above" this type of tragedy, they strike everywhere. I'm saying that the notion that more guns=more safety makes me more afraid of the US.

    I used to live in a city with the title "murder capital of Canada" (Thunder Bay back in the day) and those murders were committed with knives. No one suggested that more knives=more safety…and somehow that worked out for Thunder Bay.

  59. repsac3 says

    I thought this was too soon, as well…until I followed a few of the links, and read some other posts out there in the blogosphere. My conclusion now is that one cannot start pushing back against corelation/causation arguments soon enough. (especially ones built on speculative factors to start with–there is ZERO evidence that the shooter was either a Tea Party member or registered to vote as a Democrat–and that's apart from the fact that even if either were true, there is nothing indicating the shootings were political, anyway.)

    The media would do well to keep their every speculation to themselves, at least until they've established that they are reporting facts that are, y'know, factual. After that, I guess there's no greater or less harm in reporting a shooter's political affiliations than in reporting his/her eye color or shoe size…though relevant facts are worth far more than irrelevant ones. While all facts are facts, some facts are obviously worth more to a given story than others.

  60. eigenperson says

    This is not too soon.

    If it is, it is only too soon in the sense that perhaps it would receive more notice if posted later.

  61. Zeek says

    It strikes me that Shane in here rambling about THIS PROVES WE NEED MORE GUNS is exactly the kind of thing Ken's article is about.

  62. says

    Patrick/Shane, you are wrong in some of your assumptions. No one can truly accurately predict what would have happened if someone in the theater was armed and able to respond. The tactical situation was indeed confused.

    But what you are not considering is that this guy appears to have been a schizophrenic looking for attention. Often these types fold up at the first sign of serious resistance. Notice that he put up no fight at all with responding police even though he had a momentary advantage as – from at least one report – they were confused when they first confronted him.

    An armed response inside the theater may have caused him to stop sooner.

  63. says

    Now as for satire, I would rather that Eric Holder confined his aid to finding out whether or not the ATF supplied the mass murderer's rifle.

  64. Mike K says

    @George William Herbert
    Assuming your statistic of 1/400 people in a group are off duty police (which would vary by location) there would be a 60.6% chance of there not being such a person in a 200 person group (39.4% chance of there being such a person). The better way to figure chances like that is to take the reverse chance (399/400) and then take it to a power based on the number of people. Multiplying the number of people by the percentage of off duty police results in a percentage that is further off the more people you have. Otherwise a group of 400 would be guaranteed to have such a person rather than the actual chance of 63.2%. This has been your random statistics related lesson of the day. (percentages given are rounded)
    Sorry to interrupt the argument over guns, I just felt like correcting a statistics related error.

    As a related note, if I ever went on a homicidal killing spree it would probably be on a rooftop with a good rifle. I'd probably also have several random plans for surviving afterward due to that pesky survival instinct. Whether I would give up to police in such a situation would depend on the viability of those escape plans and how suicidal I felt at that moment. The lessons I can take away from my own thoughts on such a thing are: that people shooting back will be killed first, surrendering to a civilian (especially multiple civilians) that might keep shooting you is moronic, and whether a shooter will back down or not depends on his/her motives for the attack.

  65. Ignatius says

    I made the mistake of "liking" this and let's just say the quality of my FB friends' analytical skills was revealed. :(

  66. nlp says

    I'm not so sure that medical schools are to blame. The movie critic at the Boston Globe thinks we should discuss the problem of selling violent power fantasies to people who feel powerless. However, I'm not so sure we can work out a system that will check to make sure that everyone feels fully empowered before they're allowed into a movie theatre.

    As for gun control? I think the point has been reached where more laws will be like making something foolproof; you can't make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And people who are truly determined to buy guns will work their way around any more laws we write.

    Also, Holmes was not a medical student. He was a science student.

  67. Tarrou says

    ktpick, may I just point out that every adult in Thunder Bay no doubt owned many knives? Or did you all cut your vegetables with forks held sideways? Guns may not solve every problem, but your argument is a non-starter. Unless you can show that the ban on knives reduced the murder rate, the comparison is non-sequitur.

  68. Shane says

    @Robert White … so Orwellian, make him an unperson. I approve, and I totally agree that the shooter hereafter refered to as Mr. Asshat was doing it for the fame. I am afraid that you are right that this will up the ante for Mr. Asshat Jr. where ever he may be :(

  69. AlphaCentauri says

    If I were a cop outside the theater and rushed in to see two people shooting, unable to see more than silouettes against the movie behind them and the tear gas around them, I wouldn't know which was the criminal and which was the off duty cop, or whether the two of them were members of a terrorist cell with possibly other co-conspirators somewhere around.

    Witnesses have described sitting in their seats, paralyzed by fear, so not all innocent people will have gotten down low. And since there were children present, you can bet the first impulse of the parents would be to stand up and reach over to grab their children.

    If people who feel they are going to die anyway would be willing to physically tackle the guy to the ground from behind and hope other people pile on, pinning his arms and legs and pulling off the gas mask, that would have stopped the attack too, especially if you're assuming that he would have folded under any type of resistance.

  70. Luis says

    Wow! some killers went to medical school? there has to be something there… but you know most if not all killer hvaer used shoes in their sprees… i wonder is the use of shoes and being crazy are related

  71. desconhecido says

    So, what would have happened if there had been ten armed police in the theater when numbnuts started his spree? Let's assume that they all stood up, drew their weapons, and started firing at him. Because police are notoriously bad shots, unlike, apparently, armed Popehat commenters, many rounds would need to be fired before the attacker was hit. The stray rounds would have gone somewhere else — many into the bodies of the innocent bystanders (or sitters). Then, when the attacker was finally felled, each of the police would realize that the attacker had nine accomplices in the theater and they would start shooting at each other. Again, as the police are terrible marksmen, a high toll would be taken among the nonparticipating patrons. The probable result would be that in short order, one policeman would be left standing with everyone else in the theater a casualty.

    The optimal solution, of course, would be for there to have been exactly one armed Popehat commenter in the theater. Had this been the case, the attacker would have been lucky to get off one round before being felled by the commenter.

  72. says

    desconhecido, indeed you are very insightful. Your analysis explains why hundreds of people died when Jeanne Assam dared to oppose an active shooter at the New Life church in Colorado Springs.

    Oh, wait … that didn't happen that way …

    Well, surely your insight explains why hundreds died at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City when an off duty police officer opposed an active shooter in the mall.

    Oh, wait, that didn't happen that way either …

    Instead both of those individuals saved countless lives.

  73. AlphaCentauri says

    @desconhecido – don't forget the off duty cops in the adjacent theaters seeing people being hit by all those bullets and standing up looking for the shooter and seeing each other.

  74. Ancel De Lambert says

    Fuck yeah, Robert White, I like you! The exact same opinion I had. The Columbine shooters came right out and said that they did it for the immortality, and we gave it to them. The best course of action in response to this is apathy (to the shooter; to the victims, condolences): rip his name out of any and all records, delete his social security number, and place one copy of everything in a folder marked "psychos" for later case studies.

    Shane: well argued and compelling. And arguing with Patrick is always fun.

    ktpick: you cannot equate guns with knives. A wild swing with a knife at my head will possibly blind me, a winged shot will concuss me and put me in a hospital if not kill me. A knife wound in my chest will hurt and bleed, a center-mass shot will stop me in my tracks and put me on the ground. A knife requires me to be close to you to threaten you, and you can run away if not disarm me, and damage relies largely on strength. You can't outrun a bullet, and all I have to do is pull the trigger. A gun can act as a deterrent, a knife can't even hope to do so. Brandishing a knife causes criminals to laugh, because you probably don't know how to use it. No one laughs at a gun.

  75. Sandy Yoost says

    Sorry. At this time, this is too much. You should have waited a year for this.

    Satirical or not you managed to offend me.

  76. Ancel De Lambert says

    Damn, and I forgot to say: If you had a gun in this situation, and couldn't see, you would fire a warning shot into the air. You probably should anyway, to discourage any concerns over necessary force should you actually shoot and kill the gunman. The warning shot is all that would be necessary to save tens of lives, because the gunman would become wary and start picking his shots, instead of spraying bullets.

  77. Frank says

    In poor taste or not, insensitive or not, this piece is brilliant. Thanks for using your head.

  78. Grifter says

    In all seriousness, why is it offensive to you?

    In a year, there will be less emotional impact, and the rampant speculation will have died down quite a bit. But right now is when the news media is making up reasons and links that they have no real reason to believe exist, so right now seems, to me, the time to point that out.

  79. 205guy says

    Wow, very intersting discussion. I'm on a no-news diet, so this was my first glimpse of this situation–quite odd. Then, before I figured it out, I was thinking about that shooting in Oakland at a nursing school. Once I figured out the satire, I thought, "no, not med students, Colorado, with Columbine (now a cause rather than a symptom) and the thin air and all."

    I'm surprised (or rather not at all) that everyone is talking about guns, concealed weapons, and whatever the media is talking about, but nobody seems to talk about a culture of (entertainment) violence. I believe that stuff is corrosive, like the phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola. The most immediate proof of this is how commenters here start discussing the finer points of close-range combat, some knowledgeably.

    One article I read said the movie depicts scenes of mayhem (where by mayhem, they mean a person savagely and purposelessly killing others), but doesn't draw any conclusions. The (My) obvious conclusion is that this person was directly emulating that behavior for whatever reason, and he calculated that the mayhem in the movie itself would provide him cover (thus serve his purpose of killing). I haven't heard what scene of the movie was showing at the time of the massacre, but I'd be interested to know if that supports my theory (not that I'd ever bother to see the movie–either before or after this event).

    It's like Sade (Marquis de, root of sadism). Before our culture of (entertainment) violence came into its own (fueled by the gun culture, the drug culture, the TV non-culture, etc.), the peak of 18th c. (entertainment) depravity was Sade and his various books. They are difficult to read, yet hard to put down, and they leave an indelible memory in your brain that you can only ignore, never erase. And there is a certain genre of writing, all protected by the 1st amendment, that is even worse. But now we have (entertainment) violence everywhere, titilating us, drawing us to the box office, being not really forgetable or rather, in order to forget it, we must inure ourselves from it (not the legal definition of "inure").

    My point is, that when that corrosive effect meets a fertile/deranged mind, enabled/addled/warped by the various cultures mentioned above, we have a tragedy. Yes, I am saying "you reap what you sow" but without the biblical overtones (much as I'm disinclined towards religion, I do recognize that the Mormons are just about the only people objecting to violence in popular media–though I believe they have a bigger problem with sexuality, so I'm not sure they have their priorities right). I do recognize that this was the action of an individual, and there will always be murderous, unstable, or sadistic people. But I truly believe that if we had a kinder, gentler culture (about the only thing GWHB said right, not that he did anything about it), the frequency and effect of such incendents would be reduced.

    Some other tangentially related remarks:

    I wonder if this will impact ticket sales, one way or the other (and which way if at all). If it did, would it be knowable or measurable? I wonder if studios have insurance against events that may impact their movie attendance, either directly such as this or indirectly (such as severe weather). For example, if there ever is a copy-cat event at this same movie, wouldn't that doom ticket sales, and even movie attendance nation-wide? Thanks for the link to the Brazilian movie shooter–I couldn't read it all, but makes you wonder if this shooter knew about that?

    I do like Robert White's take on this–as well as his proposed solution (and yes, I am trying to write a longer comment than his). The search for notoriety is a non-negligeable aspect of the motivation. Though someone should tell the Americans that the Norwegians have set the bar impossibly high (77) and to not even try anymore.

    The sad truth (and sign of the corrosion in me) is that I find it incredible that a person with automatic weapons in a crowded theater killed only 12 people (though I suppose some of the wounded may still succumb, and many more will live in terrible shape). Same for Columbine (13 for the 2 of them), Ft Hood (13 for a single gunmen). Obviously the "dynamics" of the situation are beyond me, but from watching all the depictions of mayhem in movies I (and probably the shooters) expected more.

    Tarrou: I believe people fight with hunting knives or folding knives (eg butterfly knife) carried for that purpose, not the Super Ginzu 2000 (but wait, there's more, you get 2 whole sets for the incredibly low price…) from the kitchen.

    The comments about people shooting back all ignore another possibility: why don't people fight back even without guns? When I read the account of the Columbine shooting on Wikipedia (that article is something of an American Sade), one thing I noticed is that no-one tried to fight back. And in that case, it seems there was ample time or opportunity–they paused and talked with their potential victims. Obviously, I'm chicken-shit myself (for writing this comment in the first place), and again, the situation is unknowable to me in advance. But even in this theater, there might've been opportunity for some bravery, some guy or gal to jump on him from behind. What would it take to do that? And then what would happen? While I wouldn't count on these lunatics crumbling at the first sign of opposition, I do admit it seems plausible. So how come people only talk about guns?

  80. Tarrou says

    205, my comment was directed at commenter "ktpick", who was denigrating the comments supporting armed citizens, and stating that even though she lived in a city with a high knife murder rate, no one was calling for more knives. Which is ludicrous when you consider that every single adult owns at least several knives. Calling for more knives would be superfluous when literally everyone already has a glut. As to your point, I think you'd find that more crimes are committed with kitchen knives than with mall-ninja specials. Criminals are not 1970s movie street punks with butterfly knives. They're people who make poor decisions, usually with whatever is closest to hand. The odd exception like the well-planned assault we are memorializing here notwithstanding.

  81. Zeek says

    205 your idea is..well frankly silly. For one thing: the guy who did the killing didn't see the movie. He barged into the first ever screening available part way in and opened up. There is literally no way the content of the movie had effected him because he showed up heavily prepared, ready to massacre.

  82. Doublebonus says

    I always thought UC Riverside was the joke of the UCs (well, excluding Merced, of course.) I might have to revise my opinion now.

  83. says

    @205guy — The Bystander Effect means that the larger the crowd, the less likely any of the members of the crowd will act to intervene in any situation. Basically we want everything to be someone else's problem, so once there are some people not acting, we decided we shouldn't act either or something weird like that.

    We have also been improperly programmed to believe that guns are way more effective than they are so their fear factor is very high.

    We have -also- trained ourselves to believe that we should go along with hostage taking because we worship the illusion of safety (which is why people took down -buildings- with -box- -cutters- using airplanes and the sheep-like mentality of the passengers as force multipliers).

    On a side note, you notice that you don't really remember the Norway guy because the Norwegians just declared him broken and hauled him away…? It didn't eat up their news cycle for years like Columbine and Texas A&M and fucking Lizzy Borden. Europe largely had "Hitler" and are now sort of hard to impress with body count, and they no longer believe that "people just don't do that sort of thing" the way we so believe.

    Its sad to say, but the utter lack of human atrocity in our brief geographical/national history has made us believe that "things like that don't and somehow shouldn't happen here" and our hearts bleed all too easily for the normal eventualities of broken people with whatever.

    This isn't a gun control issue, you can do the same thing with any number of modern technologies, like say a car and a down-town street.

    Meanwhile you can get arrested for being armed and dangerous for having a baseball bat while black or brandishing a flitting knife.

    We have become a society of "toh mai gawd!" wussies (myself included most likely) because we have abrogated our duty of personal risk and responsibility at every turn.

    We had a cop killed here some years back when a naked guy took the cops gun and shot him. There was a street-blocking shrine for like a week, people coming in from half a state away to "mourn." But then the next time there was a naked guy the cops got in trouble for treating him too harshly and guess who got the shrine that time?

    There is no winning for the bleeding hearts found everywhere.

    As a comedian said at the time, vis a vie our inability to process crazy people doing bad things "good thing John Hinkley didn't try to steal the president's car, he might have gone to jail…"

  84. Ancel De Lambert says

    205 what was that? Was that satire? Because that's pretty poor satire. The only part I genuinely laughed at was you saying you wanted to out-loquat Richard.

  85. 205guy says

    Zeek: I read he bought a ticket and sat in the theater until he opened a side-door to retrieve his weapons–so he at least saw what was going on in the movie. But good point about it being a premiere: he didn't know what would be in the movie yet. But it's not like there was no mayhem in the first 2 Batman movies (just assuming, haven't seen them).

    doublebonus: I was also thinking that Riverside isn't exactly a top-of-the-line school.

    Robert: I wasn't thinking so much about the bystander effect because that doesn't take into account the personal risk of helping. In fact, the Wikipedia article you linked says: "However, in situations with high potential danger, participants confronted with an emergency alone or in the presence of another bystander were similarly likely to help the victim." Also note that there is a difference between helping a victim and taking on the armed murderer. Essentially, I don't think there is any comparable situation other than warfare (mock battles such as paintball don't have the kill or be killed imperative).

    I also think you're rather loose with the facts of US history, starting with 9/11. On the first planes, people went along with hostage taking because they didn't have a precedent. On UA 93, thanks to cell phones, they knew the outcome of the other hijackings and intervened successfully. I almost put that in my original comment as an example of fighting back, but then then dynamics of a hijacking with box cutters and numerical superiority, but in a tin can in the sky, seem totally different from confronting an armed gunman on a rampage.

    As for "the utter lack of human atrocity in our brief geographical/national history," please read Howard Zinn. But that is neither here nor there, the effects of government- or corporate-sponsored genocide again seems entirely different than gunman-on-a-rampage scenario. And I don't for a second believe that Europe has a been-there-done-that attitude and that the US is an innocent virgin. They both have their share of psycho killers, it's just that those in the US seem more anti-social and have more firepower. As for "a car and a down-town street," there's that corrosion again–when you take a step back and consider the thought process, that mindset is just twisted.

    Ancel (3:24pm) and Tarrou, I don't think you understand knives.

    Ancel (11:13pm), mine are just poorly articulated ideas. Feel free to try to understand them and respond to them.

  86. Tarrou says

    Pretty sure I get the concept. Sharp metal, handle, sometimes a crossguard. I'm certainly no world class expert, but I've had the standard Bayonet and Edged/Improvised Weapons training for the Infantry. And I'm a lifelong hunter and decent cook. There's not much mystery there for me.

  87. Adam says

    The possibility of armed resistance is often an enticement to psychopathic killing sprees, which is why 'gun rich' areas such as shooting ranges and police stations are veritable killing grounds. Conversely, this is why so few rampages are carried out in 'gun free zones' such as schools, malls, theaters, etc.

    I hope the theatre owners are not swayed by the gun lobby to take down the posted 'gun free zone' signs, which waged a valiant but unsung battle against this maniac who possesses amazing sign-ignoring abilities.

  88. Chris R. says

    M, from what I heard he exited the theater, propped the emergency exit open and came back in.

    Adam, I am not sure in this particular situation where the person used tear gas like substances armed response from civilians would have been effective. From the limited reports I've heard, people were choking on the gas and the movie was extremely loud. If one person had a gun they might have been able to generally return fire, however if multiple persons returned fire it would be hard without sight in a smoke filled, dark environment, to distinguish who to shoot at. Imagine if one person was in the back, one in them middle and the gunman in the front. Would the person in the middle know the gunfire coming from his rear would be unrelated to the culprit? How do you determine who to shoot at? Only the killer would know he was acting alone, which could even help his tactical situation.

  89. Shane says

    I lub popehat. Even those that I disagree with are very thoughtful & provide a good alternative insight.

    I was going to try in previous posts to tie some general beliefs that I have in with the current issue, but as @ZK pointed out I wasn't being clear in my main point. After reading @Robert White's post I felt the need to post again. He is absolutely right about the bystander effect and the general apathy in general. We are animals pure and simple and I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. As humans I think that we forget that in life there are still predators. Now, however the predators no longer take a feline or canine form and have the simple physical power to overwhelm us, and if it is their desire eat us. We want the frontal cortex to be the hallmark of our humanness, but it is not, as Sheldon is so hilariously confronted with on the Big Bang Theory.

    As a bouncer I was "that" guy, the bar I worked in was an art bar in a particularly bad part of Phoenix. My whole life I have often been the lone person to stand up to the predators. Many far more physically strong (and some more well armed) than myself. It is scary for me to do this but my sense of justice and balance is driving for me, and to do nothing for me creates enormous distress. I know that if I don't do something someone will be hurt. Many people don't like my overt aggressive behavior. And they liken me to the predators that I protect them from. So be it. But here is the part where I start tying things together. I fear lawyers more than I fear guns or big guys. Why? I have no defense. I could bumble my way through my defense in lawsuits as I have done in the past with mediocre to bad results. I thank my stars every day that people like Ken and Patrick populate my little corner of the universe. Without them I'm screwed. I read about the losers with lawsuits trying to turn the gun of the state on innocents. I am helpless to do anything about it, but never would I say we need less people on the Bar. No as my original post pointed out we need more. I don't know the black magic these lawyers use, but I find that most of the time the good ones will prevail. Even if the collateral damage seems high in any particular court case, I can only imagine the damage had the lawyer(s) not been there.

    There is no peace in the animal world, and so to in the human world. To wish that bad people with guns or lawsuits or brokerage accounts would just go away is foolish. The framers of our gov't knew this that is why the created three branches of gov't that would be (hopefully) eternally in conflict. They knew that both the people and the gov't where wicked. Piting people against one another helps stabilize and bring peace to the areas that it is done in. In my world now (stocks, futures and currencies) the more people buying and selling the more stable the price movement is and the more reflective it is of it's true value. This is what we should strive for as humans, not fairytale utopias, they will never work, because predators will never disappear from the human race. Don't disparage the people that stand up to the predators and don't take away their ability to do so, because the predator doesn't really care about rules or other people, and they really don't care about who they hurt in the process.

  90. says

    I'll try to pen a more suitable response later, but this seems pretty off base. What are these "countless mass murders" from medical school attendees? And the latest wasn't even a med student. He was a neuroscience grad student, in a program apparently hosted on the med school campus. There don't appear to be any parallels between this and the Hassan shooting that I'm aware of.

    This seems sort of like saying all these mass murderers went to high schools.

    Perhaps the more apt statement is that they all live in a nation with lax gun laws.

  91. Random Encounter says

    More people die in the presence of doctors than any other profession, @PalMD. Don't you find that even a little bit suspicious?

  92. says

    Not to get back into this, I was away for the weekend and don't really want to argue, but I was referring to hunting knives. I don't know about where you live, but here nobody really carries hunting knives on their person in their day to day lives unless they've gone hunting/fishing.

    So my comment was that nobody called for the general citizens to "fight back" by secretly carrying hunting knives for protection. Hunting knives cause plenty of damage and are intimidating enough that people up north use them to rob stores. The comparison makes sense to me, though I understand it might not make sense to a person who lives in a place where people commonly carry hidden guns to go grocery shopping.

  93. desconhecido says

    Yeah, how dare the author target medical professionals. Everyone knows it's Sarah Palin's fault.

  94. Joe Pullen says

    @PalMD – not to worry. That whoosh you heard was Patrick's sarcasm flying over your head.

  95. deos son of eros says


    That's easy. A guy pays $15 to see a movie, After sitting through 10 minutes of rude people chatting away on their cellphones, he does what movie fans have been fantasizing about for years.

    About time, IMHO, people need to learn that poor phone etiquette can be fatal.

    I would vote not guilty at his trial. It is about time, somebody had to do it,.

  96. says

    @Geoff — sacasm and tone are hard to communicate in text when being conversational. The quotes can naturally give leading like italics.

  97. Grifter says

    @Robert White:

    You're on a slippery slope…

    Next thing you know you'll be using quotation marks for emphasis, and wonder why you make people like me want to murder you when you make signs that say

    "Employee" entrance only.

  98. says

    @Chris R.: Well, I know what's happening the next time I'm in a movie theater and see an exit door propped open, and it's just too bad if an employee is inconvenienced.

  99. Costner says

    I'll tell you what I'm offended by… I'm offended that Patrick continues his mission to turn Popehat into a less witty, and less creative, version of The Onion.

  100. says

    Well, Costner, I liked it, and I hope that he does more like it.

    So you're probably going to be unhappy. Terribly sorry. Best of luck finding content elsewhere that you prefer.

  101. Chris R. says

    M, a lot of theaters banned masks after Thursday night. However I don't see the relevance since he changed into costume outside. I also don't think you can tell someone is going to go all mass murder by looking them in the face.

  102. says


    I was debating, with myself, whether to write a reply to your comment or to let it go.

    Then I looked up your email address. Not cool, Costner. I may not agree with Lowell Hubbs on anything, but creating a Blogspot blog in his name for the purpose of writing that you think he's a horrible person is, quite simply, appalling.

    So I'm banning you. You'll read this, I'm sure. You're welcome to try to find out who I am and to start a blog in my name, but you're not going to comment here, on anything.

    Allow me to say that I am quite pleased that you don't find my writing funny. It shouldn't surprise you to know that I don't find you too funny either.

  103. says

    @Chris R.: I don't see it either, but logic has never gotten in the way of a perfectly good ban before.

  104. Adam says

    @Chris R. – I'm not saying that an armed response from civilians or off-duty police would have been a perfect response. I am saying that the people in the theater would have had a better chance if someone had returned fire. A lot of commenters are 'what if'-ing this to death, but none of them are offering better alternatives than 'run away' or 'hide and hope he doesn't find you'.

    It's important to note that a bulletproof vest is not a shield of invincibility. Getting shot while wearing one still feels like getting hit with a baseball bat. It breaks ribs, which hurts a lot. Look at it like this. Police use rubber bullets for riot duty. The pain of getting shot with one is expected to (and does) deter a determined target from their ill-chosen course of action. Rubber bullets do not hit hard enough to break ribs. A real bullet into a vest will, which might have some deterrent effect.

    I'll tell you what: you nay-sayers continue to go about your business unarmed and hope for the best. It'll probably work out for you. The chances of you ever being in a situation where a firearm is needed are very slim. I -honestly- hope you are never in a situation like that. As for myself: I have a fire extinguisher in case I need it (though I hope I never do), I have a first aid kit in case I need it (though I hope I never do), and I have a defensive firearm in case I need it (though I hope to God I never do). None of them is a magical talisman warding off evil, but they are all tools that have no substitute when needed.

    Also: Excellent post, Patrick.

  105. Kelly says

    @ Adam: I can see where you are coming from…but. I will say I am fully trained in firearm safety and was taught at a young age to fire all sorts of weapons, most of which I am as good at or better than my ex and he is an expert marksman as per Army regs. Heck, I even have used an M-16 (former Army wife and all). I also am competent with swords, daggers, and most other pointy weapons. Those are a bit more than 'Stick them with the pointy end' though that is sound advice in a pinch. I can field dress a deer and a rabbit, have been informally trained in falconry and am 'too paranoid' according to my two teenagers, just to round out the description.

    That being said, even if I was in this situation and had a handgun on my person at the time, my thoughts as a parent would not be 'let me shot this bastard' but 'oh hells, how do I provide cover for all four of my kids!'

    Sadly, I am paranoid enough that this tragedy has made me think twice about taking all of my children to the theater by myself. I shouldn't think that, I am well aware, but my job as a mom is to protect my kids to the best of my ability. To make myself a bigger target by attempting to fire a handgun at an assailant in riot gear whilst tear gas is choking me is not my idea of protecting my kids. It could just be me that thinks this way and I am more than okay with that, but my personal opinion is that firing back at this assailant would only create more havoc and confusion.

  106. Nora says

    I think Dave Cullen's opinion piece in the Sunday Review section of this past Sunday's NY Times is the best take on all this speculation. We don't know jack, and won't for a while, and when we find out what this person's story is, it probably won't be anything like what we thought it was.

    Worth reading.

    Cullen is the author of "Columbine".

  107. Adam says

    @Kelly I agree with you that the safety of your children should be your first priority. Being responsible for the safety of others first and foremost does mean that you should not draw attention to yourself. If I may pose a hypothetical: what if the shooter were staring down your row wit his gun pointed at you and yours? What could you do? Carrying a gun does not mean that you -need- to use it. It just means that if you need to use it, you can.

  108. Kelly says

    @Adam: In that case, I think it would depend on which end of the row he was on. Even being a hypothetical situation makes it very difficult to decide on a course of action. If he were at 'my' end and my children were behind me, I run the risk of him missing me and hitting one of them if I draw my weapon or not. I'm not certain that the risks don't outweigh the possibility of success were I to get a shot off before he incapacitated me and left my children without cover. I have a feeling that if I had not had the time to move into a position to protect them, my concern would be first and foremost to cover them as much as I was able if/before attempting to fire.

    Now, if he had his back to me and my children were escaping the opposite direction (and given that he was close enough for me to see clearly through the tear gas) I might possibly attempt to incapacitate him. Then again, I might not, if I put others at risk. My dad's best friend is a police officer and he drilled it in that you do not shot unless 'civilians' are out of the way, if at all possible.

    I think it is a situation that you have to actually experience (and good gods I hope I never do!) before you can say one way or another what your actions may be.

  109. Adam says

    @Kelly That's kindof my point. With a firearm you have options that you wouldn't have otherwise. Use the firearm or not, the decision is yours to make and depends on what you think is best at that moment.

  110. Kelly says

    @ Adam: What I was trying to get at is sort of the flip side of what you are saying in a way. Yes, you have more options, but in that sort of situations is that a good thing and how will you deal with the repercussions should you fire and hit an innocent bystander instead? Or if the police enter the area, see that you have a gun and a. arrest you on you thinking you are part of the attack …

  111. Adam says

    @Kelly – To avoid hitting bystanders, train and be proficient with your firearm, and don't take a shot you're not sure of. A laser sight would go a long way to guaranteeing a good hit, but it has drawbacks depending on the situation.

    If the police want to detain you: listen carefully, comply slowly, don't get shot. They will sort out the situation. They know that there are lawful firearm owners who carry. You may get a little pavement rash, but the world will not end. The possibility of the police bursting onto the scene quickly enough to witness you actually shooting the assailant (if it comes to that) seems remote to me.

    There are a lot of what-ifs in every situation. Everyone has to weigh for themselves the risks and benefits of carrying a defensive weapon. I carry, and in all likelihood I will never need to use my firearm and it will sit quietly and discreetly on my hip for my entire life. But I know that if I ever needed it and did not have it and my fiancee or family got hurt because I made the decision to be unable to respond with force to a deadly threat…

    Carrying a defensive firearm isn't right for everyone, and in the end the decision falls to each individual. As with everything, people need to make the best decision they can with the information they have and review that decision occasionally to see if it's still the best one. I am the best judge of what is best for me, you are the best judge of what is best for you. From your comments you seem to be a smart person, and I think that whatever decision you make will be the best one for you.

  112. Tarrou says

    There's been a lot of criticism of the concept that an armed citizen might have helped the situation, including several comments about multiple shooters wildly spraying lead in the crowded theater. I'd like to link to an old blog post about four active shooter situations defused and ended through citizen resistance.
    In all four situations, a few people were killed/injured, but then the massacre was averted by civilian armed resistance, and in only one case did it involve actually shooting back. Active shooters plan for the police, they obviously know that they will respond at some point, they also know they have several minutes to do as much damage as possible. Civilian resistance seems to muck up their tactical plans, and they tend to surrender or panic and kill themselves. Of course, one cannot generalize too much about unhinged people, but I would argue that armed civilian resistance mitigates more damage than anything else in these tragic situations. Even in bad tactical situations, the mere presence of armed resistance may be enough to derail a shooter. And for those who think that a vest makes one magically immune to gunfire, allow me to assure you, from personal experience, that physics rules all, and all that energy is still transferred, breaking ribs, knocking one prone and seriously ruining ones day, even if the vest prevents instant death, being shot will still stop whatever one was doing, in a hurry. An armed civilian at that theater could have saved many lives, and at any rate could hardly have made things worse.

  113. 205guy says

    Adam wrote: "As for myself: I have a fire extinguisher in case I need it (though I hope I never do), I have a first aid kit in case I need it (though I hope I never do), and I have a defensive firearm in case I need it (though I hope to God I never do). None of them is a magical talisman warding off evil, but they are all tools that have no substitute when needed."

    Yes, but only one of the items you mentioned can kill if found by children in your house. The same item, when stolen and sold on the black market is also the preferred weapon of street thugs of all sorts. Coincidentally, it's also the same item that many societies recognize as a dangerous weapon and regulate its use very, very strictly.

    Kelly wrote: "I'm not certain that the risks don't outweigh the possibility of success were I to get a shot off before he incapacitated me and left my children without cover. I have a feeling that if I had not had the time to move into a position to protect them, my concern would be first and foremost to cover them as much as I was able if/before attempting to fire."

    See, this is the corrosion I was talking about. For all the bloodshed, money, and energy spent to instill the Pax Americana around the world, we have men and women debating the finer details of close-range combat and guerilla warfare in our suburbs. We can't even enjoy our violent movies anymore for fear of violence. Such a waste.

    Tarrou, you make a good point about armed resistance. My point is that there should be a way for society to reduce the number of violent incidents to begin with.

  114. Adam says

    @205guy:Teach your children firearm safety. Teach them how guns work. Demystify them. Keep your guns and ammo locked up separately so none of their idiot friends whose parents didn't bother to teach firearm safety don't get a hold of them.

    Is your argument that law-abiding citizens should be forbidden to own things that become dangerous in criminal hands? If a 200 grain bullet travelling at 1,000 feet per second is too dangerous an instrument to entrust into civilian hands, what about a 28 million grain guided bullet moving at 102 feet per second? An average car in the wrong hands is very dangerous after all. Or gasoline. Or matches. Or fertilizer, chlorine bleach and ammonia, piano wire, knives, sharp sticks, blunt sticks and rocks. Are law-abiding citizens to be forbidden the tools to defend themselves because of what a -criminal- would do with those same tools?

    As for the comment about what other societies do,

    Do you think that would work out any better in America? Laws only constrict the law-abiding, and in the case of gun control; that's the only group they disarm.

  115. Tarrou says

    205guy, I'd also like several things entered into the public record, as it were.

    1: All but one of 3+ victim mass murders in the US in the past 50 years have happened in a "gun-free" zone. Mostly schools, but also government buildings, churches and now theaters.

    2: Reducing violent incidents is a great idea, how do you propose to do that? Germany has far more restrictive gun laws, and has three of the top five school shootings of all time. Norway's laws didn't stop Breivik. Russia has an almost complete ban, and Beslan, need I say more? Unhinged people will find a way.

    3: While there are several examples of armed civilians averting more deaths in active shooter situations, there are no instances that I can find of armed citizens hitting bystanders while doing so. The data doesn't lie. This is less of a problem than some would have us believe. It is something to worry about, and it appears that private citizens do worry enough to keep it from happening.

    4: Not that it matters much, but it now appears the "bulletproof vest" that Holmes wore was nothing more than a tactical accessories garment, not actually bulletproof. Even wearing a real vest, he could have still been stopped, but it's worth noting. Aside, is there anything the media reported that was actually true? Did this even happen in Aurora?

  116. Tarrou says

    Your google-fu needs work:P Note that it is not certain that he was not wearing another vest underneath it, but no other information has been released, and real bulletproof vests are quite expensive. I don't know the reality, but from the media we have, I doubt very much they'd know the difference between a real ballistic vest and a tomato. In other news, the NY Times covers itself in glory with this beauty:

  117. Tarrou says

    I just posted several links, which promptly disappeared, will wait to see if they pop up.