A “good guy with a gun” can’t stop “a bad guy with a gun” if the good guy is forced to leave his gun in the car because of a “no guns allowed” sign or policy.
In the case of the Aurora movie theater shooting, we are actually getting some insight into the thought pattern that went into choosing the movie theater James Holmes chose to attack. I’ve seen it repeatedly claimed in forums that the killer chose that particular Cinemark theater because it was posted as :no guns allowed,” And that the shooter drove past two closer (non-posted) theaters to target that one. But is that actually why he chose that theater?
Greg Ellifritz has been digging into Holmes’ published diaries, trying to get to the bottom of this question, and he found some very interesting information. It’s a great article, and has links to the actual diary pages for those interested.
Ellifritz makes some excellent points and draws some well-reasoned conclusions. Homes didn’t just “snap”, he didn’t simply decide one day to order a bunch of ammo online and go on a killing spree. And he didn’t choose that particular theater because it was a posted “no guns allowed” zone. He meticulously plotted this attack over the course of about 10 years. He considered several targets, including an airport (which he rejected because of security concerns, and also because he thought the attack would be blamed on terrorism, which wasn’t the message he wanted to send).
So he settled on a movie theater. But how to choose which one? Did he factor in that one was posted “no guns allowed” and another one wasn’t? No — apparently there is no evidence that such a thought ever crossed his twisted mind. He chose the Aurora theater because, according to Ellifritz:
…the particular theater he selected had an exit into a rear parking lot that was isolated and had limited visibility. That theater also had easy access from the outside, and a minimal number of exits (2). The killer noted that the doors could easily be locked or chained to prevent escape. He rejected theaters that were in the front of the complex, those that were more visible, and those that had numerous exits.
Why does this matter? Because, as Ellifritz also points out, we should know what the facts are and what the actual causes were. It doesn’t serve the gun rights community’s cause to continue repeating false narratives. We may not know what the thought process was in every killer’s head, but at least we know what the thought processes were in this killer’s head, and continuing to claim that he chose his target “because it was a gun-free zone” is simply not true.
All of us who are gun rights advocates want to believe that this was yet another example where restrictive carry policies made a particular target very palatable for the killer. That wasn’t the case. It’s important not to let our personal feelings or hunches replace the facts in cases like these. In the ever-present debate against the anti-gunners, we have the facts on our side. We must stick to the truth and the facts we know so that we retain credibility in the debate.