How quickly can we expect to see religious/political exploitation of last night’s Batman shooting?

How about already?

(And, in case you hadn’t heard the news yet, well, this happened.)

Louie Gohmert — shamefully, but not surprisingly, from our state — has helpfully opined that all of it happened because the country just isn’t Christian enough.

It’s pretty much the same thing we heard from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell after 9/11: there are too many people out there who aren’t like us, and that pisses off God, and so he’s decided to lift his hand of protection from our society. Because he’s just as petty a shit as his followers are.

Oh, and of course, the shooting could easily have been brought to a quick end if there had been some heroic, armed, and doubtless Republican moviegoer in the audience to take the shooter out. Because when you’re in a huge darkened auditorium full of hundreds of screaming and panicked people, with extremely loud surround sound systems blaring, there’s no worry that some random citizen pulling his own gun would have done anything but draw a perfect bead on the assailant and bring him down with a single shot, and no concern at all that his own wild firing would have just wounded or even killed more innocents into the bargain.

Would you like to let Louie Gohmert know how impressed you are with his opinions? I thought some of you might.

His site only accepts emails from people in his district, so enter anything from 75601-75608.

Addendum from the “Fair and Balanced” Dept.: On the heels of the blathering blame-assigning from the like of Gohmert, Fischer, and Warren, we now, I am sad to say, have an example of an atheist doing much the same thing.


  1. jamessweet says

    FWIW, on the first news story I clicked on about it, one of the first comments was somebody speculating it was a teabagger. (I can’t remember the exact words the commenter used, but it was something to that effect) Not to draw a false equivalence, but there are people on our side just as willing to jump to conclusions and say, “This random evil thing must have been done by the usual people I disagree with!” Sad.

  2. Roger A says

    Thinking along the lines of cool names for logical fallacies (i.e. “straw man”, argument from ignorance, reductio ad absurdam, etc.), is there a term for that knee-jerk response some folks have to all tragedy, regardless of whether natural or man made, as a wake-up-call from some divine being?

  3. Max Entropy says

    “I feel that it was all God’s plan, and for me to second guess it or judge it…” George Zimmerman, armed citizen.

  4. Max Entropy says

    What a week for crimes in movie theaters. First, Fred Willard and now, this.

  5. Loqi says

    Imagine you’re in the theater during the shooting. The room is filled with smoke and there’s gunfire coming from one part of the room. You can’t see a thing; you have no idea what’s going on. Pretty terrifying. You know what would make it more terrifying? If all of a sudden gunfire was coming from *all* parts of the room as other terrified moviegoers started firing indescriminantly into the smoke.

  6. says

    Yeah, the right-wing gun nuts never seem to think that crossfire is worse than just fire.

    Of course, I also haven’t seen any of them taking note that the guy was wearing a bulletproof vest. How easy is it to make a headshot on a single guy in a darkened theater filled with tear gas, while he’s shooting at you?

  7. 'Tis Himself says

    I feel that it was all God’s plan

    Another bit of evidence showing how Yahweh is a sadistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old.

  8. scottjarvis says

    I’ve heard several Christians throw out the garbage this guy did but what really gets under my skin are those Christians that ask that we “pray for the victims and their families”.

    Of course I took some serious heat at work today when I replied with “if the god you believe in existed and is what you claim he is this would have never happened”. I was accused of not understanding god, how he works, and that I’m a horrible person.

    You’d think a tragedy like this would make people examine things a little closer but they don’t. Instead they retreat into their shell of delusion and comfort.

  9. jacobfromlost says

    If everyone were armed, you not only have the problem of crossfire, but of identifying who the “bad guy” is. When a situation is chaotic or uncertain, having dozens of people suddenly absolutely sure they know exactly what is happening–when they don’t–would be a disaster. You’d have bystanders with guns being shot by other bystanders with guns as the shooter continues shooting randomly.

    Reminds me of a shoplifting story I heard when I worked in retail. Apparently an employee saw someone running for the door, and heard other employees saying, “He stole something! Stop him! Stop him!” So this employee tackles the runner, subdues him, etc, to find out it was just a customer who saw the REAL shoplifter running out the door and started to run after him. The employee only saw one person running (as the shoplifter was long gone), so tackled them…and apparently hurt them (broken bones, or something). The other employees were apparently yelling for the CUSTOMER to stop the guy who just ran out the door, and when he started running…etc, etc.

    It’s easy to see how a misunderstanding, with guns everywhere, could easily lead to innocent people killing each other while the guilty ones continue their rampage.

  10. John says

    I been reading some of the comments about the shooting, too many say I will pray for the families and they’re in heaven now. why is that when something bad happens people think saying this stuff does anything? as someone said before me, prayer is pretending you did something or best it gives yourself a false sense of confront about the reality of the atrocious event, and though some people mean well when they say it, it does nothing in the end. when you can raise the dead of those people or reverse time I’ll say prayer works.

    Then you got the Christians you say this happened because America is rejecting god and his ways, thus he allows this to happen, so I guess god took away that magical invisible shield that people claim he puts on the USA or people when god is protecting people or the USA with his magic powers, and why is that god so concerned with the USA? he is either punishing it or blessing it according to the Christians, what about the other countries who have Christians in it…. is god a American and Jesus white as many pictures make him out to be?

    Christians condemn this person who went a mass killing spree but then they believe god will go on a massive killing spree in the future that makes Noah’s flood look like a amusement park of fun, then they have the audacity to say god will punish people in such ways after death that would make the most sadistic evil people look like there merciful, come on, for the love of all that is good on this planet why can’t more see this crap for what it is? I’m baffled at times how I was able to see past it all, but it was not easy to come out of it, but I can’t help but want to yell at times when I hear people say I’ll pray and talk about gods of any kind, these gods are useless because they never demonstrate they even exist outside of a human mind.

    How the hell can any atheist respect the theist position…..I cannot myself, as AronRa said, he said that a god that can physically violate the laws of the universe is pretty much impossible to exist, not his exact words, but he is right, and even if murder stops this does not prove gods exist, gods who can violate all of reality like omni-all gods are the biggest offenders of fantasy, it’s ascribing magic and with no explanatory explanation, thus this kind of god is the most improbable of all kinds. how can any scientist believe in the god of the bible if he himself can violate the science they so learned…..cognitive dissonance goes well with the ones who believe in gods.

    AronRa, Matt, Thunderf00t and many others are the power intellectuals who can dismantle god claims and religion and other magical stuff.

    If we are going to use suffering to go against a loving and caring god, look to the animal world and Insect world, if we get past the magical stuff that comes with believing gods, look at the animal world, these animals suffer greatly to just live, and what kind of god creates fish flies or maggots? why create Insects in the first place? it’s stuff like this that can show gods are not real let alone infinite magical type of gods.

    I’m ranting and I’m becoming increasing frustrated now by theist of all types.

    This video below will show you the laughable nature of prayer, if humans want a better world then it must come from their hands, I plead with the humanity to work together or you will only make it harder for the world, right now this is the only planet we got, over 7 billion people on it and and we share this planet with other creatures, 3/4 of it is about water, lots places humans cannot even live in, people call this world hand created by a infinite being, yet it has lots of hostility tours the creatures of this world, but no matter what some might say, some will never give up on these absurd beliefs, they are a lost cause, harsh it may seem.

    I have much respect for Matt and others like him.

  11. says

    It took one spree killer to wake our parliament up, here in Australia, and in no time at all guns were illegal. Some people complained but, on the most part, it went off smoothly.

    Sure, we still have gun murders, most of them are gang related but, those guns are illegal imports therefore,a lot more controllable. We have never had another spree killer since.

    If a farmer needs one to cull feral animals, then they must have a special licence;often times they would hire a group of cullers to do it for them. If one uses them for sport, again a special licence and with a lot of proof. All weapons must be locked away in a security chest and the police often check.

    Our world didn’t end when guns were illegal, most people handed them in without fuss,society is safer and everyone wins. Those who have suffered in this tragedy, I understand the anguish, I hope they all feel peace and heal fast and well.

  12. DigitalAtheist says

    Sigh… the problem with the “let everyone care a gun” groups is that they don’t ever stop to take into account stuff like panic fire where people start shooting anywhere because someone else is shooting, nor do they take in to account lighting conditions, whether said gun carrier has had expusre (even just training) to gun firing conditions, or just the simple fact that even if they hit the target it might not be a one shot stop deal, or that over penetration might wound/kill some innocent bystander or… gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The list goes on.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I own a pistol, a couple of shotguns, and several rifles. I spent 9 years in the Army, and I can honestly say that in a situation like the theater shootins.. yeah.. I woulda been down on the floor gagging from tear gas (been there done that had a t-shirt that smelled of CS for years after), and hoping I didn’t catch a bullet. Dark room, lungs spasming, eyes watering, skin starting to sting… yeah… gonna be able to take a real good bead on the bad guy. As if…

  13. says

    A ban won’t happen in the US. The immediate result would be a thousand constitutional challenges, including by many individual states, since US states can regulate guns as well as the federal government.

  14. says


    I’m a gun guy, as in I did some coaching in the Marines and I have a loaded handgun a mere foot from my right hand. I wear it on my hip when I go outside to walk my dog at night. Point #1 is that many Marines are terrible shots and just barely passed their rifle and/or pistol qualifications every year. That’s with a week of dry-firing and practicing positions and focusing on shooting, plus another couple of days of live fire practice under relatively calm conditions. It is a simple fact that it is hard to hit a stationary paper target in bright daylight under relaxed circumstances. I’m an exceptional shot with lots of training and regular range time, but even I’m not 100% sure of my shooting in a real life situation.

    Point #2 is that of the rules I know is “be sure of your target AND WHAT’S BEHIND IT.” Even if you have a clear shot at a fair target, in a crowd you can’t be sure that your shot will hit and stay in the target, and not miss or over-penetrate, so how can you possibly take the shot? The whole “if only more people were armed” thing assumes

  15. says

    I just can’t understand why people there are so fascinated by guns. What is the psychology behind it?
    Do they feel empowered having one? Why are they so afraid of society that they feel they need one? Is it a status symbol to them?

    I can kind of understand hunting, here it is used to rid us of feral pigs and such but, just to stick a head on your wall?

    Surely these questions should be asked and an attempt to fix what is wrong in a society that feels so afraid of their own society. What of this mythical danger that has been conditioned into your society since childhood; Communists, Socialists,Terrorists,foreigners,Islam,Liberalism, gays, Mexicans….the list seems to go on and on.

    One can watch American television and news and see it all. There seems to be a constant angst,fear and tension; surely that is not good for a society or an individual.

  16. jacobfromlost says

    It’s a good question. I see it as a weird combination of our frontier roots, individualism, independence, rural culture, and distrust of authority/”the government”. Guns are at the heart of all of those things for many Americans, and seem to symbolize their very identity. To suggest any gun control laws may (it seems to me) suggest to them that who they are, at a fundamental level, is in some way WRONG…and they take offense, become more fearful, more distrustful, more independent (stubborn), more individualistic, and more adamant they get to keep their guns no matter what. It doesn’t seem to matter how modest the controls, in what context, or what place…the gun lobby and their considerably large number of backers will fight them.

    I always found the argument that it is a needed check against a tyranical government moot in the modern world. A civilian militia really has no chance against a modern military…or, more likely, a banking industry that robs them blind without firing a single shot.

    (And I’m not even for banning all guns, but I don’t see any reasonable justification for someone to be able to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon along with 6000 rounds. If that makes sense, why can’t we all have personal atomic weapons?)

  17. says

    In a statement of overwhelming irony – a tsunami of irony – Fox Theaters is considering a

    wait for it…..


    Let the nerd rage ensue.

  18. Bruce Gorton says

    It essentially goes like this: Americans have very little in the way of personal power.

    The Democratic Party plays to the middle way too much – where the middle is essentially the 1%. People who are not worried about their retirement, whose kids go to private schools and whose jobs are reasonably secure in competitive markets.

    These are not the people who are holding down two jobs, nor are they the people who are likely to be most vulnerable if the bank were to “accidentally” send repo men to claim their houses, which they didn’t take a mortgage on.

    Against this, you have the Republican Party, which is outright evil. It is only pro life so long as the said life is in the womb, otherwise it is pro-war, anti-healthcare, anti-social-safety-nets, pro torture, and of the opinion that if you can’t afford a good lawyer, you don’t have basic civil rights.

    They want to make America a theocracy, complete with Christian clubs that know damn well the parents of the kids they target would be horrified at what they are teaching, and thus tell the kids to keep mum about it with mum.

    This political party is precisely why America is going through its worst drought in 55 years, it is so completely worthless that even its own leaders proclaim that only an all knowing, all powerful God can fix their fuck-ups.

    Their current presidential candidate is apparently a gay basher, noted for strapping his dog to his car roof, who ran a company that made its money by buying up other companies, and firing their staff. He wasn’t the crazy one in the primaries.

    Americans are repeatedly subject to various conspiracy theories about how the government is all powerful and running everything, yet also sold the idea that the government is basically incompetent, and incapable of achieving anything.

    Americans tend to be deeply in debt, and deeply unhealthy. Which means the vast majority of Americans feel powerless, and have no route to feeling powerful, not even with the vote because you either vote for a rich man’s party, or the party of genuinely shitty people.

    Their last illusion of power is the gun.

  19. Sally says

    “How quickly can we expect to see religious/political exploitation of last night’s Batman shooting?”

    Umm, how about within fifth paragraph of your own article?

    “Oh, and of course, the shooting could easily have been brought to a quick end if there had been some heroic, armed, and doubtless Republican moviegoer in the audience to take the shooter out.”

    You’re right, that was pretty quick!

    I mean, it’s not like the ‘atheist community’ has exploited the Catholic sex abuse scandal for its own benefit, has it? No – we’d never do such at thing.


    Honestly, can no-one see the rank hypocrisy of pointing accusatory fingers at those people who would likewise start point accusatory fingers? It’s embarrassing.

    A deserved pox on all our houses when we stoop to this level.

  20. Chad says

    It seems the congressman is only accepting email from residents of his district. I wonder if that was the case before his recent statements?

  21. says

    I will never ever understand the US fixation with guns. Is it a power thing? Or just a irrational fear that some day the government will randomly start killing US citizens? Maybe you guys are just preparing for Zombie Apocalypse™?

  22. mike says

    “Oh, and of course, the shooting could easily have been brought to a quick end if there had been some heroic, armed, and doubtless Republican moviegoer in the audience to take the shooter out. ”

    Though you state this in jest, I am sure there are some people out there that think carrying a gun would have helped in this situation.(I’ve heard someone argue that if EVERYONE carried a gun we’d all be much safer!) The truth is this guy was in tactical gear, prob meaning bullet proof vest so any shot fired against him would have just encited him to engage in more contact.

    Why a country would allow its citizens to own AR-15 RIFLES for home use is beyond me

  23. Sam says

    The guy was wearing A bulletproof vest, bulletproof legging, and a balistics helmet. No doubt that a person could have pulled out his gun and shot a bullet right through the scrambling crowd and through clean the vest with the power of God.

    Just makes me laugh.

  24. mike says

    I would love for someone to say this to me so I could respond with ; “Then your god is a sick fuck!” Twelve people are dead, twelve families destroyed, hundreds of people scarred for life. It’s easy to judge this, I judge it as horrific and wrong and someone/thing with the ability to stop it and didn’t is unconscionable.

  25. jacobfromlost says

    There is a difference between “political exploitation” and simple political comment in the light of evidence. The act of one person shooting a group of people is a political act–you can’t comment on it without making a political statement.

    The difference is:

    Political exploitation: This happened because not enough people believe in Jesus.

    Political comment: Maybe it shouldn’t be legal for people to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition, 100 round magazines, and assault weapons as the only purpose these weapons have is to allow one person to kill many people easily and quickly.

    To equate the two as “political exploitation” misses the point entirely, and suggests rational political discourse is impossible because both sides make legitimate points and anyone who suggests one side is reasonable and one side makes no sense at all must be using political “exploitation.”

    Person A and Person B are not equal.

    Person A: Why is it unreasonable to ban assault weapons, or ban buying thousands of rounds of ammunition, or ban 100 round magazines?

    Person B: Because that person could have stabbed 70 people in that theater, so are you going to ban knives? Or probably gotten that stuff illegally anyway. Why should we make things illegal if it is still possible people can do them illegally anyway? I bet if everyone was armed in every dark theater, this situation would have turned out better and no problems would be created at all in that situation nor elsewhere. Also, the reason this happened is because not enough people believed in Jesus, so god took his protective hand away. And if you say THAT is ridiculous, you are politically exploiting the situation, so you better not say that every ridiculous thing I say is ridiculous.

  26. says

    (I’m still wondering how the AM talk show guys are going to blame this on Obama when they go back to work Monday morning.)

    Apparently this guy bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition and 4 guns online over the span of a couple of weeks. Would it really destroy 2nd Amendment rights to have some kind of system in place to raise a red flag when somebody buys a massive amount of firepower over a short timespan?

  27. says

    The problem is that you can’t easily divide guns into “good” guns and “bad” guns. A semiautomatic rifle is a semiautomatic rifle. It may look different, but here’s nothing that makes an AR15 more dangerous than a Ruger Mini 14 or a Remington Model 750, although you’d probably wouldn’t find a high capacity magazine for a 750 very easily. A lot of what people think of as hunting rifles are based on turn of the 20th Century bolt action military rifles, and police and military snipers often use militarised versions of modern hunting rifles. If Holmes had used one of those, or a “non-military” style semiautomatic, there would still be dead victims.

    The question is how to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. No system will prevent 100% of gun crime. Even a place like Japan, where getting a gun license takes longer than getting a PhD, still has some gun crime. But places with tighter systems than the US, but with considerable levels of gun ownership, like Canada, seem to have less gun crime, and far fewer mass shootings of this type.(Depending on which figure you believe Canada has somewhere between 8 and 10 million legal firearms owned by the public, compared to a population of 34 million people.)

  28. says

    Sally, in your rush to be a sanctimonious bore, you failed to notice one obvious fact that might have been resolved by reading the link to Gomer Pyle’s statements: that my remark was mocking his asinine assertion that more guns in the audience would have stopped the shooting before it got really bad.

    I don’t doubt that atheists have politicized horrible events in the past. (And in the interest of being “fair and balanced,” we now do have an example of an atheist doing it here.) But you’ll have to do better than false equivalencies and misunderstandings to find examples of that here.

  29. says

    I can appreciate a frontier roots thing but, this country was a penal colony when it was first started and a lot of the outback is still quite…rugged (and so are the people) yet, we don’t have the same fascination with death.
    I have always been the type of person to want to understand everything and, I guess, I put it into my own experiences so, I find it so foreign to what I know.
    Here one of our biggest folk heroes is Ned Kelly, people see him as a guy standing up for his rights against a cruel constabulary and taxes, even though he was a thief and murderer. I just see him as a thug.
    We too love Independence and freedom of thought and action from the youngest age but, I don’t think anyone would act out aggressively to express it. I would think as our voting is compulsory everyone knows they can complain with their vote… the trouble is they sometimes vote for the stupidest of people 🙂
    Our countries are similar in many ways, yet so very different. Could it be in the education?

  30. says

    It looks like one of Ray Comforts’ lackeys is also getting into the action. Fortunately, the very first commentator there tears her a new one:

    I was hoping we could come together on this tragedy, Trish, but apparently you don’t like being human.

    1. You aren’t even offering help to the victims. No money, blood drives, or anything. You are going down there to take advantage of a tragedy to increase your numbers. Shameful.

    2. You dedicate maybe a third of a post to the tragedy, and the rest is about advertising your book and event. Disgusting.

  31. Brent says

    you guys watch way too many movies. I am from a family that has always had plenty of guns. Anybody that uses firearms ,at all regularly, understands that firing randomly in the direction of your target is just a waste of ammo. If you think, that if the movie goers had guns they would all be pointing amlessly and firing like on Rambo you simply are letting your fear of guns and hollywood influence you far too much.

    bottom line is guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is no more dangerous as the guns in the hands of the law enforcement officers that ended the shoot out. Just having a state stamp of approval “badge” does not make an officer have more rights to protect himself. We all have the right to protect ourselves.

  32. derek hudson says

    I am deeply interested in how the ‘protecting hand of god’ works in practice. Does god continually interfere with individuals’ free will by stopping them thinking about going to a local cinema and spraying bullets?

  33. vethtiche says

    While i don’t doubt that you are familiar with and have some level of experience with firearms, you need to get it in your (probably thick) head that the many people who can have access to firearms in the States will be very much untrained or limitedly so.

    It’s not a question of being able to shoot straight, it’s the problem of people being completely flippant with the firepower they can get in their hands.

    Law enforcement officers are trained, not only to be able to use a firearm competently, but also with RESPECT to human life and the dangers that a firearm in an untrained hand can cause. There is absolutely no question of the difference between a firearm in the hands of a trained lawmen and that of your random citizen.

    When gun control laws are lax, you not only get people who have no business or training in using firearms having access to them, you also have the thugs and criminals having far easier (even if illegal) access to automatic weapons and rifles. This is just the way it is – the more guns there are, the more people carrying them.

    I am not even sure if you have read the comments on this page thus far before shooting your mouth off. People have already stated that the gunman had worn bullet proof vest and attire. One coach has already testified that even trained marines can be terrible shots, not to mention the penetrative power and unpredictability of firearms. Put simply, I don’t think you even know what you’re saying.

    By all means affirm in your right to bear arms, but don’t even think of shying away from the complexities of the problem. Real lives depend on this.

  34. says

    You’re making the questionable assumption that, when facing actual violence and chaos, armed citizens will behave rationally. In fact there is no way of knowing in advance how someone will react to such a situation. Even those who have gone through extensive training, and know they will face violence, can act irrationally or
    negligently under stress.

    Even if we assume they behave rationally having a gun doesn’t give someone psychic powers. They will have no way of determining that that fellow who just pulled a gun after the shooting starts is a law abiding citizen trying to help, or another villain about to do evil.

  35. jacobfromlost says

    “bottom line is guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is no more dangerous as the guns in the hands of the law enforcement officers that ended the shoot out.”

    There are dueling statistics on the matter, but the flaw that is so often pointed out by the gun lobby doesn’t apply to this situation. They say that when guns are pulled defensively, the attacking criminal often backs off, or is held until police arrive, and no one is shot so the statistic is not counted as “effective” use of a gun for self defense to balance out all the numbers of people killed accidentally (although if those numbers are included, it would seem you would have to include robberies/crimes where the criminal’s gun was no loaded, not a real gun, etc, and those numbers would also be difficult to obtain especially if they got away).

    The problem in applying that logic to the Aurora situation is that the shooter STARTED shooting, and would not have been stopped from shooting even if people in the audience shot back. He was covered in armor that was BETTER than even the police had.

    Also, the police officers did not end the shootout. They arrested the man after he had stopped shooting and given himself up (its possible he may have continued in the next theater, or even continued by shooting at police, but neither of those things happened and police shooting HIM is not what ended his rampage).

    It is pure speculation on my part, but I think he thought his apartment bomb had already gone off (as he had planned) and he wanted to take credit for it by telling the police, “I’m the guy who planted that bomb.” I don’t think he “warned” them about it as it has been implied in the press, as there would be no reason to if he really wanted someone to get hurt…as all the evidence tells us that he did. It just ended up that his attempt at taking credit became a warning.

  36. name says

    Why do you feel the need to inject ad hominems into your argument? In addition, you use comments from people here to prop up at least part of your argument. How do you know that people are who they say they are when they make claims about being in the Marines or such? Perhaps they are; but I think it is unreasonable to say “see, someone on the internet said they were, therefore my argument is 100%.”

    I also am somewhat skeptical about your comment concerning the significantly increased level of expertise of law enforcement. You simply make the statement, but I’m not sure that is always the case. Perhaps paramilitary police forces, but your average cop? I’m not so sure. They have to qualify, but based on the information I have access to, it doesn’t involve too much more than firing a set number of shots at a paper target. In addition, you say that police are “trained,” yet in the same comment you state that Marines, who have a popular reputation for being at least a competent shot (with a rifle, anyway) supposedly would not be competent – so how is a cop, who is unlikely to receive the same kind of depth and quantity of instruction a Marine would get, be any better? If I missed something in your post which led me to misunderstand, I apologize.

    I would agree with you that there are people who carry guns who aren’t experienced enough with them. But I would also disagree with lumping every law abiding citizen who carries a gun with the same rambo/reckless crowd. Based on my experiences and reading, I really don’t think that is the case.

    But at any rate, I think there’s one thing everyone is missing. The theater left the door open in the back after the guy propped it open. No alarm? No security? I mean, even without a major criminal act, someone could let their non-paying friends in. I would have thought theaters would be really vigilant about that. If someone had closed that door again, he would’ve had to have come in through the front, something unlikely if he really was wearing body armor and carrying rifles and stuff (because someone would have seen him ahead of time).

    Also, what is this “bulletproof” vest people keep talking about? As far as I know, there is no such thing. Various levels of resistance, sure, but bullet proof? I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t know everything.

    I think if you talked to people who actually carry a gun (who granted, are not necessarily representative of the entire group), they would express doubt that even if they had a gun on them, they would shoot. They share the same concern – darkness, tear gas, chaos, crowd, etc. But there is one thing – someone could have tackled him. I don’t want to monday morning quarterback, but several witnesses claim he stopped to reload. If true, that was a perfect opportunity for several guys to tackle him. Based on what I’ve seen, that theater wasn’t full of fragile old people either – plenty of people who should have been able to tackle him. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I would’ve tackled him in the same situation (I fully understanding trying to get out of there and save one’s self, or even freezing up under pressure), but at least a few people could have done so – at minimal risk to other people.

  37. says

    There’s also the matter that even a trained law enforcement officer can find threat assessment to be a difficult thing. Can we expect a stalwart armed citizen to make an accurate assessment, in the midst of carnage and chaos?

  38. name says

    Well, I’m not sure we know what he would have done if he faced opposition. In a lot of these scenarios, the person often kills themselves when faced with another gun (by the police). This guy could’ve fought against the police, but chose to give up instead. Not sure why, and we may never find out exactly why.

    Also, I don’t know exactly how armor works, but I don’t think it’s some kind of invincibility garment or something. I would think that getting hit with a bullet, even with a vest, would at least stun you and cause some sort of injury like brusing or even broken ribs. In other words, I don’t think wearing a vest turns you into a human tank.

  39. jacobfromlost says

    He had more than one weapon. If anyone started to approach him while he was reloading one, he could have simply used another to take care of that person and continue.

    Imagining what you would do in such a situation is totally different than an actual situation. (One person DID use their own body to block a loved one from being shot.)

    Here’s an interesting thread:

    I found it interesting that one person (although the rest poo-pooed him) thought it was legally ok to accidentally kill innocent people if you were trying to shoot a rampaging criminal.

  40. name says

    You’re right, he could’ve used another weapon, but I suppose the alternative would be to hang out until everyone was dead. It’s like flight 93, where passengers took a person risk to attack the attackers – but the alternative was probable death for everyone. If enough people went at him, he can’t shoot all those people with a secondary weapon.

    But again, it’s easy to say this now. If I was in that situation being shot at, who knows…

  41. vethtiche says

    It is precisely what I’m saying really – that training beats no training every time.

    It is not about questioning whether a police officer is properly trained – he should be. But at the very least a cop would have a proper understanding of the potential dangers of handling firearms.

    I repeat, it is not just about being a marksman and being able to shoot straight. It is about being able to keep the composure when handling a deadly weapon in such situations.

    The respect one has to have for firearms is something that has to be drilled into the person. Such a thing is not for the average, unmonitored citizen.

  42. jacobfromlost says

    Craig: I can appreciate a frontier roots thing but, this country was a penal colony when it was first started and a lot of the outback is still quite…rugged (and so are the people) yet, we don’t have the same fascination with death.

    Me: I think Australia and the US have a lot in common. The gun thing, I think, is a result of several differences. One would be our Revolution, and another would be our Civil War. I think those two events shape the character of our country even today (maybe that’s obvious, maybe not, but I point it out anyway).

    Craig: I have always been the type of person to want to understand everything and, I guess, I put it into my own experiences so, I find it so foreign to what I know.

    Me: I’m not sure it is a “fascination” with death so much as it is cultural/historical. And the point about “power” another commenter made fits right in there (even if it is only imaginary power at this point).

    Craig: We too love Independence and freedom of thought and action from the youngest age but, I don’t think anyone would act out aggressively to express it.

    Me: The very existence of the US was established and reestablished by acts of war, using firearms.

    Craig: I would think as our voting is compulsory everyone knows they can complain with their vote… the trouble is they sometimes vote for the stupidest of people

    Me: I don’t think voting would ever be compulsory here. I would like a system of rank voting (preferential voting) but I doubt it would ever be used on a national scale until people saw how it worked on a smaller one.

    Craig: Our countries are similar in many ways, yet so very different. Could it be in the education?

    Me: I see it more as a historical/cultural difference that in some instances goes against common sense.

  43. jacobfromlost says

    Name: You’re right, he could’ve used another weapon, but I suppose the alternative would be to hang out until everyone was dead.

    Me: No, the alternative was to take cover, not attract attention, and look out for those around you.

    Name: It’s like flight 93, where passengers took a person risk to attack the attackers – but the alternative was probable death for everyone.

    Me: It’s not the same as Flight 93 knew it was CERTAIN DEATH for everyone. If you remember correctly, they had used cell phones to get information about what was happening with the other hijacked flights. That’s what motivated their decision.

    Name: If enough people went at him, he can’t shoot all those people with a secondary weapon.

    Me: Actually he probably could have. If the reported numbers are correct, there were 200 people in that theater. By the time he would have had to reload, a huge percentage would have been killed or injured and everyone else would have either gotten out of the theater, or taken cover. By the time you would have figured out what was going on, who was left alive, where the shooter was, and how many able bodied people could have “rushed” him…there simply wouldn’t have been enough people to do so.

    Name: But again, it’s easy to say this now. If I was in that situation being shot at, who knows…

    Me: The people in the theater know. There is nothing remarkable different about any of them than there is about you or me. If we had been there, we would have done roughly what they did (including asking ourselves what we could have done differently after the fact and running scenarios like this over and over in our minds–“maybe if I had done X? Who knows?” ).

  44. name says

    jacobfromlost: I wasn’t aware of the numbers. Thanks for reporting that.

    But I do have to ask: take cover behind what? Unfortunately, the movies and TV make any opaque object out to be “cover” in the sense that it can shield you from bullets. Unfortunately, I don’t think reality is quite in line with that. Those rounds could probably easily go through the foam, fabric, and plastic seats that most theaters I’ve been to seem to have. Really, the only way would be to get out of there, something that obviously not everyone was able to do right away.

    If you have a mass shooter, your probability of death is quite high, I would think. You’re right that it’s not guaranteed (maybe the police would show up, or he would choose to give up by himself – often the only two outcomes when the shooter is unopposed in these situations), but it seems quite probable. It’s not quite flight 93, sure, but I think it could be rougly analogous.

  45. jacobfromlost says

    Name: But I do have to ask: take cover behind what?

    Me: The purpose of taking cover is not to be seen, thus being LESS LIKELY to be shot. The choice isn’t between rushing the shooter in the open, or hiding behind bullet proof chairs to guarantee survival. The choice was between rushing the shooter in the open and instantly being shot, or hiding behind chairs so he can’t see where you are to shoot you easily.

    Name: Really, the only way would be to get out of there, something that obviously not everyone was able to do right away.

    Me: The situation does not guarantee survival at all (no situation does). The point is to do what has the best chance of survival, and rushing the guy would not give that.

    Name: If you have a mass shooter, your probability of death is quite high, I would think.

    Me: There were 200 people in the audience, and 12 died. That 6% chance of dying, 94% chance of surviving. (As opposed to Flight 93, which had an imminent event that would guarantee 100% chance of dying.)

    Name: You’re right that it’s not guaranteed (maybe the police would show up, or he would choose to give up by himself – often the only two outcomes when the shooter is unopposed in these situations), but it seems quite probable. It’s not quite flight 93, sure, but I think it could be rougly analogous.

    Me: It’s not analogous in the most important aspect–the theater was not about to be crashed into a building, killing everyone on board and more in the building. Those on Flight 93 would not have done what they did had they not known that the plane was about to be used as a missile.

  46. vethtiche says

    To be fair I did go a bit far with personal attacks, but gun control is something that I happen to be quite concerned about. I referenced other people’s comments not because they are correct (I believe they are), but because Brent appeared not to have read them in making his comment (despite the other comments coming first), which made his comment seem silly in context.

    I think you also need to understand though that there is a very clear difference between being a crack shot or marksman, and having the composure and respect for the dangers of handling firearms. It is the latter which is critical to me.

    Police officers and soldiers will have been trained in very specific procedures on how to apprehend or deal with armed suspects. In fact I would expect more of police officers because they are more exposed to the public. The importance and relevance of those procedures are more critical. Soldiers may often actually be less familiar because they are less exposed.

    I know it is your argument that maybe the majority of gun owners will have a healthy respect for the dangers of firearms, and therefore should not be lumped with the inexperienced ‘minority’. But frankly I do not see that at all.

    Also, in such a life-critical matter, you should know well the old adage that: “It takes just one….”

  47. Pete says

    Actually murder rates are down across the board, maybe his transcendentalness wasn’t happy with that

  48. says

    You are right the class system there seems to be a big factor in the way of life of every citizen, business and the parliament. I have seen a very similar system in Britain I am rich, you are poor and never the twain shall meet.

    Luckily, here it was never really a problem. When I was younger bosses would have a BBQ and all staff would come, kids were friends with each other and everyone was essentially equal.

    Every Friday afternoon employees and boss would go to the pub and shout rounds of drinks. Sadly that sort of thing seems to be loosing ground as work ethics become more about profit and less about care for staff, customer and public.

    In fact, ethics in many facets of business, politics, religion and society seem to be fraying. The system of caring for those that have no care, looking after the average worker and his family are starting to erode.

    At least the right will never dare to take away free healthcare but they are working hard to force people to work for less and with no public holidays.

    We have a large scandal about Catholic priests accused of rape, suicides resulting and, like in USA the priests are being hidden away.

    This time it is Cardinal Pell who is being held to account about hiding crimes he knew of but did not report. Now there are laws being formed to make it legal to demand a priest to tell what has been confessed.

    Alas many more children, over decades have since been raped by the same guys. Should these priests be charged with manslaughter…I think so.

    The leader of our opposition is a very strong Catholic and he is good friends with Pell. They try very hard to prevent changes in laws to make all citizens equal.

    As a very large proportion of our population is either Atheist, Agnostic or just don’t bother to go to church, not to mention the Jedis (they are an official religion here)and even the fast growing number of Buddhists, the conservative right is having a hard time of making this a Christian nation with medieval laws.

    I hope very soon the world will see reason and dispose of all these power hungry religions.

  49. says

    That was my reaction to Gohmert’s … ugh… the NRA etc’s fantasy is for a rock-jawed WASP to take him out with his concealed weapon. Instead, crossfire hurts or kills more, and the cops don’t know who the baddie is when they finally do show up.

    They don’t think. They just believe things.

    BTW I’m keeping a curated sampling of some of the ugliest ways ppl are making religious hay out of this tragedy already. I’m trying to keep my cool as I cut and paste, but it’s hard not to rage at the dolts blaming atheists and evolution.

    We can’t exploit it, but we also need to be part of the conversation about the problem. Saying, “he was sick, and that’s the end of it” isn’t enough. We need to know why he was sick. Let’s just treat the topic with the respect the victims deserve.

  50. says

    If someone (or someones) did pull their guns out and start shooting back in the tear gas filled room full of people trying to escape… aside from the obvious danger to bystanders… if the cops did show up how would they know who the shooter was? Most mass murderers don’t wear body armor or red hair dye. Meanwhile people could be pinned down by the crossfire.

    It just defies sense that anyone would spout this in public and expect to be taken seriously by rational beings.

    Clearly, America ain’t rational.

  51. says

    So this guy is just crazy and there is no cure for crazy. This is the cost of the Second Amendment and this kind of thing will continue to happen. Sad to say, the guy probably did not have a girlfriend or anything better to do. He`was probably never taught to read books or workout instead of shooting stuff.

    This is why people need to learn to stop blaming and long-term potentiate calm and other things for fun. As long as shooting is taught as a hobby it will be used in other ways. The whole point of guns is to shoot things, and I imagine, after a while, people get tired of shooting targets and animals.

    Life is cheap now, because of overpopulation, and will be treated cheaply.

  52. estimatedprophet says

    Also, there’s one other thing that comes into play: a lot of the gun nuts (I am making a distinction between them and gun owners BTW) truly believe deep down that any kind of gun control is at its base an attempt by the dam neegras to take over and live their lives in Cadillacs eating fried chicken and pumping out welfare babies, while they have to work day and night at minimum wage (because the dam neegras have taken all the good jobs while remaining on welfare somehow) in order to pay for it all. Seriously. The gun nut lobby (again, not gun owners) is terribly racist as part of their makeup.

  53. estimatedprophet says

    In a dark theater.

    Showing a Batman movie that has loads of gunshots going on on screen.

    With smoke bombs going off.

    You seriously believe that having other armed people in that situation would help? And WE are the ones that watch too many movies?!

    BTW I have plenty of guns myself, I am comfortable with them, and have been around guns my whole life. NO WAY would I ever assume that under those circumstances I could do anything but make the situation worse. YOU WOULD MAKE IT WORSE, TOO.

  54. John says

    I made sure I was CCW when I went to the theater the day after the shootings. There is a lot of speculation about what could have happened. In the end, we can’t know. What I do know is if a shooter had shown up in that theater, I would have had an option instead of NO option. Even if that option was shooting the guy and his vest and drawing his fire, I would have given my wife and others a few seconds to get out. It’s not an ideal option, but it’s better than cowering behind your seat and waiting for him to get to you.

  55. says

    And if you had had a chance to live out this John Woo scenario, are you so certain you’d have been able to pull it off without sending a stray round into yet another innocent victim, especially amidst clouds of smoke and tear gas? What if, when getting to your feet to fire at the shooter, you were knocked over by a horde of fleeing people, your gun sent flying? And what if, when the cops turned up, they mistook you for the bad shooter instead of realizing you were the good one, and took you out? Or, what if another theater-goer had the same idea you did, and you both mistakenly drew down on each other instead of the villain?

    Don’t mistake me. I’m not opposed in principle to being armed for self-defense. But I see people thinking these kinds of public eruptions of chaos would be easily handled, and full of confidence that they’d be the ones to handle it with a cool, heroic head. As you admit, we can’t know how we’d really act in such a situation until it happened, which it hopefully never would.

  56. John says

    I neither made a claim about how I would handle the situation, nor do I have an answer for the seemingly endless stream of hypotheticals people are throwing around. I simply said that having a CCW gave me options as opposed to not having options. What would you do if your family were in this exact situation? The guy is shooting people running for exits and other people in front of you. Your family is next. How do you feel about not having any options to protect them? I honestly want to know. What do you do?

  57. John says

    Actually, I will try to address your hypotheticals. I do this understanding that even if I address these, the thing about hypotheticals is that they are limited only be imagination and you can simply generate more. “what ifs” do not help your argument.

    1) Hitting an innocent. This is the hardest one. It is really, really tough. When you choose to CCW you are taking on some really heavy responsibilities and liabilities. Choosing to fire in self defence always runs the risk of unintended consiquences. This is the shooters responsibility. I would like to say that training with your weapon solves this, but it won’t. You can’t train for every scenario. All you can do is your best. Go for a clear shot and do your damnedest to make sure nobody but your target is in the line of fire. When it comes right down to it, a police officer would be in the same situation as you and would not necessarily be better equipped to handle it. A police officer has legal protections against hitting a civilian in the line of duty. You do not. If I shot at this guy and accidentally hit some kid… it would be the most horrible thing I can think of doing…. Except allowing a murderous rampage to continue while doing nothing. There is no black and white in this situation. You do the best you can.

    2) What if my gun is knocked out of my hand. Ok… it lands on the floor and I don’t have a gun. I’m no better or worse off than if I were not carrying one at all. Did you think it was going to land on the floor and go off on its own or something? Kind of a pointless hypothetical.

    3) Cops showing up and other armed citizens: This is less of a concern than you might think. This isn’t a movie where you have a 10 minute gunfight and dodge bullets and do flips over tables. What most likely would have happened is I would wait for a clear shot and take it. Either the shots take him down, regardless of his armor, or he turns and shoots me. Either way it’s over in a couple seconds. Long, long before the police arrive. Even if they did somehow show up, it’s not like they just start shooting at the first person they see with a gun. I immediately comply as soon as I see them. Even if they DID shoot me on sight, that is a risk you take choosing to CCW. It is still a better option then crouching on the floor and dying helplessly long before the police show up.

    As far as other armed citizens… this is something that was taught in my CCW class and is part of my regular training with my CCW weapon. I won’t go into detail, but the class helps you get into situational awareness when your using your weapon and helps you identify other people with weapons and if they are a threat. Can misunderstandings happen? I’m sure they could. But good habits and regular training can make a BIG difference.

    This, I hope, answers your hypotheticals. I still think they are a distraction because they don’t address the issue. I have yet to hear someone propose a better solution to create options for yourself if you were ever in this situation than a CCW.

  58. Brent says

    Just a little bit of info for you. Did you know that the Swiss government makes it mandatory for all males between the ages of 20 and 30 to have an assult weapon issued to them and kept at their home for national defense? the Swiss have an average of close to 50% of their population armed. Yet they have far less crime than us per capita. point is I don’t think you have ever owned a gun or if you have you have certainly never had to use it for defense. I think you would take more comfort having a gun on you if needed while someone is shooting at you (whether in civilian life or war) than holding your phone and dialing 911. The police can not protect you at all times and it is naive to believe that you are not your own first line of protection.

    some Swiss stats below … Keep in mind this is for their whole country

    Police statistics for the year 2006[14] records 34 killings or attempted killings involving firearms, compared to 69 cases involving bladed weapons and 16 cases of unarmed assault. Cases of assault resulting in bodily harm numbered 89 (firearms) and 526 (bladed weapons). As of 2007, Switzerland had a population of about 7,600,000. This would put the rate of killings or attempted killings with firearms at about one for every quarter million residents yearly. This represents a decline of aggravated assaults involving firearms since the early 1990s.

  59. Brent says

    Agreed John, I think some people here are trying to categorize anyone that carries a gun for protection as some sort of delusional want to be action hero. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you are going to feel like acting out your latest John Woo movie because you are now invincible.

    I am sure that while being fired upon by a person with that kind of armor and firepower that most gun carriers would be acting very similar to the non gun owning targets of the gunman and simply trying to hide or run.

    All I am saying is I would rather have the additional option of using my weapon to distract or injure my assailant if he began seeking me out in closer proximity. or have an option of firing upon him if I had a clear shot. Even if you have armor on getting shot at does slow you down.

    long story short being a defenseless human target while you wait for a badge wearing gun owner to help is not something I would prefer.

    and please explain to me how gun control laws are going to stop a guy who was able to get all of the explosives and willing to break a much more serious law “murder” from illegally using a gun to murder.