holmes

Time and again we’ve been told that active shooters choose to attack certain places over others because those targets are either posted as “gun-free zones” or fall within the definition of a “gun-free zone” under federal law. The thinking goes that these murderers choose these targets specifically because they would be target-rich environments where the shooter would face low prospect of encountering resistance. But do they? Sure, a rational and reasonable person might think that if they were going to conduct such an attack, they might follow that logic. But a rational and reasonable person wouldn’t be considering such an attack in the first place. We should consider that those who carry out mass shootings are perhaps not thinking the same way the rest of us would . . .

I previously dug into this subject to see how much correlation I could find between school shooters and the schools they attacked. My conclusion at that time was that of all school shootings (for which I could find data) from 1980 to mid-2014, from 83 to 91% of those shootings were committed by a person who had a personal connection to that particular school. They either currently attended it, were a prior student, were employed there, or the individual they wanted to kill worked there.

Now, while every one of these shootings took place in a gun-free zone, I didn’t see any evidence to back up the commonly-held assertion that these shooters had chosen their target specifically because they were gun free zones.

But part of the problem with digging into something like this is that the shooters rarely, if ever, explain their reasons. Frequently they die in or immediately after the assault (either by police or by their own hand). And when they survive, they aren’t always sane, nor do they usually want to talk.

Maybe they chose their target because it was a gun-free zone, but if they did, they rarely say that. I have found no evidence on any killing I’ve looked into, in which the killer specifically gave their reasoning for choosing a target location because it was a gun-free zone. (Note: that doesn’t mean such evidence doesn’t exist, just that I’ve never seen it.)

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.

Ellifritz says:

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.

I find that point especially relevant since, as I was recently watching the testimony in the Texas legislature on the open carry and campus carry bills, I saw Leslie Ervin make emotional and heart-wrenching testimony describing how her paranoid schizophrenic son bought “an arsenal” of guns and then murdered her husband. While the testimony was powerful, it also turned out to be misleading. Her son killed his father with a wrench and a knife — no guns were used.

As Ellifritz points out, the gun rights movement typically argues from a position of strength using facts and truth. The facts are that nearly every mass shooting event since at least 1980 has taken place in a gun-free zone. Which leads to the next fact: establishing a location as a gun-free zone doesn’t make it safe from mass shooters. As we all know, criminals and mentally disturbed individuals simply are not dissuaded by those signs. Which leads us to the next fact; the only guns that a gun-free zones prevent are those in the hands of law-abiding citizens. All of which means that if there were even a possibility that a law-abiding citizen might be present and stop (or at least slow down) a mass shooter, that possibility is eliminated by a gun-free zone designation.

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. There are more than enough valid, factual arguments against so-called gun-free zones without resorting to inaccurate information to bolster the case.

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76 Responses to Lessons On Truth From the Twisted Mind of James Holmes

    • Except the wrong conclusion about the choice of theater. He skipped other venues because of security. He chose low security venue, a venue that was less likely to have a good guy with a gun in it. Whether he stated it or not he chose a “no guns allowed” venue. He chose a soft target with few exits and lots of ways to corral the livestock he planned on executing (livestock don’t shoot back) An airport does not have that sort of vulnerabilities. The theater apparently was underserved for fire exits which seems to be the thing he exploited first.

      • I agree. Clearly, security concerns were on his mind. Now, whether that means he feared armed officers at the airport or armed citizes at some other venue, really isn’t all that important.

        What matters is that he did in fact select a location where his rampage was less likely to encounter immediate armed resistance, perhaps so he wouldn’t die ( he did surrender when the cops showed up) or more likely so it would last longer.

        However, the point remains that unarmed people are more vulnerable to attack than armed people are. We need to remain focused on what countermeasures preserve our rights and protect our families. I’m ok with the POTG taking some poetic license with some of the details.

        • I’ll go a step further and say whether he picked it for the gun free zone or not he certainly used reason or logic to his capability to plan his murder. This alone should show that more guns in the hands of good guys in more places should cause people like this to view soft targets more like he saw airports. Worse case hopefully if it doesn’t stop people like this it allows us a fighting chance.

    • He considered several targets, including an airport (which he rejected because of security concerns,

      Security concerns – that he might be shot by armed security as he tried to shoot the place up? In other words, he didn’t want to go where he’d encounter armed resistance. So maybe he didn’t choose this particular theater because of its posted gun policy, but he considered places that would have armed resistance and decided against them. If he wasn’t specifically aiming for “gun free” then he was at the least aiming for “fewer guns”.

      My $.02

  1. Though to be fair, the causation vs correlation conflation on gun free zones is often brought up as a strawman by the antis. The bigger issue on our side is to have the wherewithal to identify that’s what’s happening in the debate and then the skill to counter such rhetorical devices.

  2. The only thing I saw wrong with this article is assuming that signs stop concealed carriers from carrying. What’s the saying? Concealed means concealed?

    • In some places, such signs carry the force of law, and so do end up disarming most law-abiding CCers in those places.

  3. No bullshit when your shooting with the Bull.

    Excellent post.

    Also shows the killer was not insane.

  4. I agree that it is an assumption that he considered a GFZ when planning. It is also an assumption that he didn’t consider it at all based only on his notes no matter how detailed or how long he planned it.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Just because he did not write something down, does not mean it was not a part of his thought process. Only Holmes can answer that question.

    • Agreed.
      It would seem important to know whether any of the other theaters he likely considered had comparably suitable exits. This wasn’t clear from this write-up.

      It might be the case that the Aurora theater was ideally configured and none of the others was competitive. A fair conclusion might be that configuration was the primary consideration; the no-guns signs was a coincidental bonus.

      Should that be the case then theater operators ought to provide extra security for auditoriums that lend themselves to such attacks. And, the carry/no-carry ought to be another consideration.

  5. I posted this in reaction to Ellifritz’ article on another forum and it bears repeating here:

    Ellifritz is making the mistake of considering this guy’s known writings as the “bible” for what he did and didn’t take into consideration. This shooter is not a professional operational planner. He is an amatuer nut-job. I have planned nuclear SIOP missions. A professional documents everything, every decision, why it was made, what alternatives were considered, etc., in case someone else has to come along later an hastily replan due to new operational requirements. Then, multiple colleagues come along and “red team” that documentation to make sure the planner did not miss anything, even a tiny detail.

    Amateurs, especially nut-job amateurs, if they document at all, do it stream of consciousness, heavily influenced by their mental pathology. Just because he wrote A LOT, doesn’t mean he was thorough or truthful. Ellifritz is taking it a step too far by saying a gun-free zone factor “wasn’t the case” here. He should have said, “We don’t know one way or another. We do know HE WRITES that he rejected another plan due to the risk of armed resistance.” Ellifritz is preaching that we should all stick to the facts to preserve our credibility. He is right, and that should apply to him also.

  6. First:

    Sure, a rational and reasonable person might think that if they were going to conduct such an attack, they might follow that logic. But a rational and reasonable person wouldn’t be considering such an attack in the first place.

    Being rational and reasonable does not require being moral. One can rationalize and reason completely devoid of any context of right and wrong. In fact, being able to do so is one component of sociopathy.

    Second, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. FTA:

    While the killer’s insane rantings are somewhat interesting, what I found truly enlightening was the thought process he used to choose his target. In addition to movie theaters, the killer considered shooting up or bombing an airport. He chose to avoid the airport as a target because of his perception that there would be greater security there. He also believed that airport attacks would be viewed as “terrorism” and that wasn’t the message he wanted to send.

    He ended up choosing the movie theater because it was “isolated, proximal, and large.”

    The journal explains his decision to target a movie theater rather than an airport, but does not explain his decision to target that specific theater complex, rather than any of the other theater complexes in the vicinity.

    Have these criteria been tested, to see if they support the choice of that specific theater complex? Are other theaters similarly “isolated, proximal, and large”? Is the police response time to other theater complexes faster or slower?

    In fact, there is no evidence in his diary that he even considered the possibility of being shot by a lawfully armed citizen or an off-duty police officer watching the movie.

    Perhaps because the choice of theater complex, due to potential presence or lack of armed resistance, was so obvious that it didn’t need to be thought through in his diary?

    • Dear Chip Bennett:

      Quite so. In an article published here earlier this week I noted that the Aurora killer chose the theater based on it’s gun free status. I used that information from sources I’ve previously found reliable and credible, and also because that kind of thinking comports well with my police experience, which included actual conversations with criminals and the mentally ill and dangerous.

      The problem we have in this case is we don’t know precisely what the killer was thinking, nor has he, to my knowledge, said a word on this issue one way or the other. Even if he did, it would be hard to take anything he said at face value.

      While I appreciate the effort and information contained in this article, what I do not see is any actual evidence that proves the issue one way or another. There is indeed potential evidence of the killer’s thought processes and some of the other factors he may have taken into consideration, but not actual evidence bearing on this particular question.

      There can be no doubt, however, that gun free zones are enticing targets, and mass shootings occur in those places with disturbing regularity. I do not see any evidence that anyone on the pro-liberty side of the argument is in any way attempting to mislead anyone by noting that, nor does so doing, absent actual and clear evidence of deception, harm the pro-liberty cause.

  7. Spree killers don’t usually explain themselves, but when they do, you get stuff like this:

    “I saw that there were way too many cops walking around on [Deltopia, a spring break celebration]. It would be impossible to kill enough of my enemies before being dispatched by those damnable cops.”

    Eliot Rodger, from his “Manifesto”

    As far as that orange-haired freak, out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned.

    …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.

    Frankly, most movie theaters I’ve been in had all of these characteristics. And I’m supposed to believe that no other theater in Aurora met these specifications, and it’s a mere coincidence that the theater Holmes chose was the only one that banned guns?

    Bought any bridges lately?

    Of course school shooters usually shoot up schools to which they have a personal connection. Which also involves the knowledge that said schools are gun free zones. On the rare occasion when shooters make a mistake, they get popped, and fast, as in Arapahoe HS and Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

    The evidence does not support the OP’s thesis.

  8. So, because Holmes did not explicitly mention in a notebook a motive of avoiding his own premature death, we should abstain from considering that he may have taken such a possibility into account?

    No. Lack of affirmative evidence of his avoiding armed customers is not the same as affirmative evidence that he did not try to avoid armed customers.

  9. Very interesting article. Based on information in the article, while it may not be accurate to say that most or even many mass-shooters considered the GFZ status of their target location, it is indisputable that virtually all of the mass shootings of the last 50 years or so occurred in GFZs.
    So, we may not have the facts to establish CAUSATION, but it appears that we do have enough information to establish COORELATION. With correlation, it is logical to assume that if we reduce the number of GFZs, we should see a corresponding reduction in mass shootings.
    Perhaps that is the stronger argument we should be making to redule or eliminate GFZs.

  10. Holmes was nothing but ammosexual shrill for gun lobby. You gunophiles are nothing but sheep that believe having gun will protect you. When it’s more likely to injure or kill. WAKE UP NRA SHEEPLE!

  11. A farmer will tell you that a rifle is a far more efficient solution to a fox problem than horse and hounds, and a sushi chef will tell you that ike jime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikejime) is for all intents and purposes a better method of slaughter than halal or kosher.

    The message? Aristocracy is a fallacy, the best have no interest in ruling and know better than to bother; the concept of minority rights is a juxtaposition – we must all be equal in all ways possible, including access to, and ability of, individual and group self preservation.

  12. It is really unfortunate that creativity and intelligence do not go out the window with one’s sanity.

  13. 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. Because….
    He considered several targets, including an airport (which he rejected because of security concerns.
    So if the gun free environment was unattractive; why pick the theater rather than the airport?

  14. I know one of the survivors. Her boyfriend laid on top of her as a shield. He died of course. I’m not sure which weapon was used on him as Holmes used several.

  15. About 2/3 of mass shooting (more than 4 victims killed) do not occur in gun free zones, because they occur in private residences. Most mass shooting are family affairs. Increasing or decreasing the number of public gun free zones will most likely have an unmeasurably small effect on the number of mass shootings.

    • That’s an interesting point. Do you have a source for that number?

      If verifiable, it somewhat dovetails into what I found with school shootings. Most incidents do not seem to be of the type of “I’m going to go shoot random people because I want a lot of victims”. Most incidents seem to be on the order of “there are very specific people that I want dead” — which is largely borne out in the cases of most of the school shootings I looked into.

      Obvious examples that do not fit that mold are Newtown and Colorado and Fort Hood. The indiscriminate mass shooter is absolutely “a thing”. But it would be interesting to dissect what percentage of mass shootings are random (and thus a threat to the public at large) versus targeted (and thus less likely to be a threat to the public).

        • Thanks for that!

          Interesting to note that they consider events such as the Waco biker gang shootout as a “mass killing”… that wouldn’t qualify under the criteria I’ve been researching. And, they tabulated “killings”, not “shootings”, so those non-shooting events would have to be excluded from a study of “gun violence” but it’s still an interesting set of slides nonetheless.

      • it would be interesting to dissect what percentage of mass shootings are random . . . versus targeted . . . .

        Some spree killings are both, e.g., Isla Vista and UT Tower. In both cases, the targeted victims were stabbed to death, and the random victims were shot (or run over).

        It’s interesting that the personal killings were done with a close-up and personal weapon, while the random killings were done with a stand-off weapon.

        This was not the case with the Newtown baby killer, who used a gun on his mother. Maybe that tells us that the killer had no personal feelings about the woman, but who knows.

      • Fort Hood is a very pertinent point to this study; it still ceases to amaze me that persons who have presumably passed background checks, psychiatric and mental aptitude evaluations, and subsequently trained in safe and responsible use of defensive and offensive firearm tactics and rules of engagement – specifically military personnel on base, do not at least carry sidearms.

  16. I never thought there was much if any truth to the whole “he chose a gun-free zone” idea.
    Hard targets in public are not going to be a concern. Even in non gun-free places in heavily pro-gun strongholds most people are not carrying and of those who are carrying not all will be willing or able to return fire.

    The theater may as well have been a non gun-free zone. How many carriers who take the task seriously would have disarmed before going into the theater? Personally where there are no metal detectors and the greatest punitive action possible is being asked to leave I carry despite posted notices. I don’t know any carriers personally who would have abided by the sign or policy.

    So even if a non gun-free zone the theater still has densely packed victims, darkness and narrow aisles. Opening fire into that crowd would have been devastating regardless of it being a gun-free zone.

    As an aside it’s pretty absurd this nut spent 10 years coming up with “find a fish barrel and shoot fish.” He’s supposed to be smart?

    • Good point. I had similar thoughts. Criminals hold up gas stations in Texas without thinking that the person being held up may have a weapon (I don’t have any data except what I hear on the news but I believe there are fewer instances here in NY where there is little chance of armed resistance). Gun-free zone or not they are either desperate, mentally ill or terrorists.
      Having said that, gun-free zones make absolutely no sense to me and it is impossible for me to change anybodies minds.

      • Gun free zone status is not the only consideration in a criminal’s risk analysis. Lanza’s motive and expected reward were much different from the motive and expected reward of your average junkie/petty criminal.

  17. Several people have brought up that “lack of evidence is not evidence in and of itself”, in that simply because he didn’t write down his desire to pick the theater because of its gun-free status, that is not proof that he didn’t.

    I agree. It isn’t.

    But here’s the thing — there is not, as far as I know, a shred of evidence, anywhere, from any mass shooter that I’ve ever found, that says that a “gun free zone” was the deciding factor on why they chose their target. Yet it’s repeated over and over by people in comments, here and elsewhere, that it’s a factor. There’s no evidence.

    It is true that all school shootings take place in gun free zones. But — by choice? Or by the fact that as of 1980, all schools were declared gun free zones? And of the mass shootings that have taken place in this country, how many of them were at someplace other than a school? I can think of a couple (the Aurora Colorado theater shooting, and the Fort Hood shootings). But — again, were those places chosen because they were “gun free zones”? Was it even a factor in their decisionmaking process? I’d say that there is no reason to believe that it was, there is no evidence that shows that it was, that I know of.

    It would be most interesting to me to find out if the shooters in these various incidents were influenced by, or were even aware of the “gun free zone” designation.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, or that it’s not a factor. I’m saying there’s no EVIDENCE to show that it is a factor in WHY they choose the places they do. So we should not go around proclaiming it as a fact, when it is only a supposition.

    • The first question I would ask, would I want to test the impact of designating schools as “gun free zones”, would be the difference in spree shootings at schools before and after that designation, normalized appropriately.

      • Agreed. However, there are other factors that come into play. Cyber-bullying didn’t exist, for example, so — did a cyber-bully victim get pushed to the edge and shoot based on the knowledge that now his school was declared a “gun free zone”? I would find that doubtful, but I guess it’s possible.

        Perhaps most saliently, you’ve hit upon the key definition that gets lost in the data. You said “spree killing.” So many of the school shootings are what I would classify as “targeted” killings — the shooter had a very specific target (or targets) in mind. And as Pete S. pointed out, many (perhaps 2/3) of the “mass killings” in the USA are family killings — which should almost certainly not be classified as “spree killings”.

        If we were to limit the research strictly to what is truly a “spree killing”, there would be far fewer to consider. Newtown, Aurora, Fort Bend, Virginia Tech, Columbine, I would classify all of those as spree killings. Of targeted killings, which do very frequently happen on school campuses, I haven’t seen evidence that the shooters in those scenarios gave any consideration to the facility’s status as a gun-free zone.

        Interestingly, just the other day a wanna-be spree killer was stopped by an armed citizen.
        http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/01/video-armed-citizen-intervenes-stops-mass-shooting-in-georgia-liquor-store/

        Guy started shooting up a liquor store; armed citizen shot back. Didn’t hit the spree shooter, but it did convince him to leave. I find this interesting from two aspects:
        1) a spree shooter chose an area to attack that wasn’t a “gun free zone”.
        2) perhaps because it wasn’t a gun-free zone, an armed civilian was able to stop it, unquestionably saving lives.

    • From a psychological point of view, the main attraction is preying on the vulnerable; it is pretty much the underlying factor in the profiles of all the ‘headline’ killers.

  18. One thing seems obvious – if notebooks of graph paper were not so easily available, Holmes would not have been able to plan his attack in such detail.

    • Yeah! There should be a waiting period for graph paper, and no one NEEDS more than sixteen squares per square inch! (Except engineers and architects, of course, and then only while they’re at work.)

      • This engineer loves his graph paper, even when off-duty – and one day, when retired. I want my carve-out.

        And hey, if it means I can get a purchase discount on graph paper, maybe I’ll sit for my PE after all.

        • I don’t know. How can we be sure you won’t use it to design some Rube Goldberg machine of mass destruction? You’ll need to at least take 20 hours of training and get issued a piece of paper stating that an instructor told you to use it responsibly…

  19. STB gets confused here by the word “theater”, even though both it and the different meaning term “theater complex” are both used.

    “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..”

    STB writes of the killer choosing instead a “movie theater”, but then describes choice of theater, meaning which theater establishment; i.e., which location of Cinemark, AMC, or whomever. The evidence STB provides is Ellifritz’s recounting from the writings of which theater to choose. Only, at that point, Ellifritz is referring to”theater” as in the specific screening room itself among the many within the theater complex.

    It’s like confusing “fish” with “fish”, which can mean singular or plural. You cannot argue that the killer chose the theater, meaning the entire movie showing establishment, on these other physical criteria unrelated to gun policy, because these other criteria refer to which specific screening room he chose within the overall establishment. These criteria speak nothing to why he chose this theater establishment, only to why this screening room. After all, EVERY theater establishment has some screening rooms in the front, in the back, and with different proximity to exits.

    You can infer all you want from the killer’s silence on theater establishment selection, but you can’t use his words on screening room selection as proof of his theater establishment selection.

  20. Hmmm. And yet spree killers just don’t seem to “target” gun shops. Y’know, the ones with employees who go shooting every day and OC their favorite custom guns on their hips. A few nutjobs have attacked police stations – with predictable results. Most criminals are opportunists – they see a chance and they go for it. Perhaps they see a cop and check their plan for the next day. I’ve yet to see a mass shooter start up next to a police officer or open carrier.

    As a police officer I see first-hand visual deterrent effects of being in a fully-marked black and white patrol car and in full uniform every day. Dropped cell phones, speeders slowing down, stopping instead of a hit and run, stopping a fist fight, etc.

    So the whole “gun free zones don’t entice mass shooters” concept falls pretty flat to me. Of course there are criminals who don’t give a crap about getting shot. I don’t expect active shooters to be particularly sane or rational individuals.

    They do however, tend to retreat like the cowards they are at the first sign of resistance. We’ve seen that on multiple occasions. So if they run and hide or shoot themselves once an armed defender is on scene, it really isn’t too much of a stretch to speculate that these mass shooters do take armed resistance – or the lack thereof – into account when planning their sick fantasies. That’s a “security concern” that most potential killers can’t effectively deal with.

    Rather than speculate on a killer’s intent, my focus is on retuning accurate and effective fire. At the end of the day, I want a good guy with firepower to stop the killer. If that’s a permanent solution, even better. Gun Free Zones and their advocates simply perpetuate the victim processs.

    • “…it really isn’t too much of a stretch to speculate that these mass shooters do take armed resistance – or the lack thereof – into account…”

      One might also speculate, with just as much validity, that they haven’t considered armed resistance at all, and have only focused on their power fantasies and the victims they wish to create. That would also explain why such attacks are aborted at the first sign of resistance – they haven’t planned for such an eventuality at all.

      Either way, it’s all speculation. For me, I don’t care whether “gun-free zones” are targeted by criminals or not. Even if there were zero crimes committed in such places, they’re still an offensive infringement on peoples’ natural rights.

  21. If you let a sign stop you from carrying a gun then you shouldn’t be carrying one at all. I also include permits to carry in that category. I don’t need permission from Master just so I can protect myself and others.

  22. I have recently reframed my thinking on the issue of gun free zones. Whether or not these pychos choose gfzs because they are not secure it doesn’t change the fact they are not secure. Whether or not these people choose these locations because they can inflict massive damage or not they can inflict massive damage. The point has been made well that each case is different with different motivations, trying to figure these people out to stop it from happening is a distraction and frames the argument with an anti gun tint. These locations are unsecured and we are forced to disarm if we wish to step foot on those premises. We’re never going to figure out a formula to find these people and stop them before they strike, but we can very easily allow, not guarantee, better odds at saving lives. Recently there was an incident halted by an armed citizen, yet we accept the diversion topic of intent and location selection. It’s about armed people on scene that will act for the good of those around them, not precrime departments and pyche profiles.

  23. Despite all the rhetoric from both pro and anti gun partisans, the truth is that virtually all public space in the United States is a gun free zone. There are not enough people who carry on regular basis to deter anyone. So no matter what the law is on permitting guns chances you are the only law abiding citizen with a gun in the most the places you go.

  24. You present facts as if they matter.

    Politicians support gun control because they thirst for power and unfettered control without the possibility of opposition, along with a victimized public solely dependent on them for protection.

    Antis support gun control because of emotional immaturity, in many forms, and their own miniature designs for power.

    Facts won’t sway either.

    • The anti-defence proponents, politicians included, obviously having something very significant in common with premeditated murderers.

  25. Good article.

    Imagine if this guy had offed himself like the little columbine boys or the sandy hook freak- we’d be awash in the same conspiracy theories we have with those.

    • That doesn’t stop the conspiracy folks. There are plenty of such “theories” around this incident, as well.

  26. >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.

    My guess is that Holmes booby-trapped him home to protest Man-trapping laws, was carrying gas and smoke canisters to protest the bullshit NFA’s DD laws, and Oc’ing an AR15 to upset those stupid liberals who shouldn’t fear someone carrying body armor and guns in places where people don’t unless they work there to protect it, (Vtec, Northern Illinois University shooting, Columbine, Sandy Hook)

    He probably starting shooting because some asshole wouldn’t shut the fuck up.

    :^)

  27. So, the original poster essentially points out that we don’t know that the guy specifically picked a gun-free zone, and many of the commenters respond by pointing out that we don’t know that he didn’t. It seems to me, though, that regardless of the man’s reasons for choosing his location, the fact remains that had some of those people been armed, they would have had a better chance of stopping him with fewer casualties.

    The main problem with the “killers choose gun-free zones” argument is that it implicitly accepts the underlying premise of the antis that crimes can be prevented before they ever occur. However, if all gun-free zones were eliminated tomorrow, and people could carry anywhere they liked, would that mean crime would be finished, as well? Hardly! Evil people with evil intentions will do evil deeds, and it doesn’t matter what laws and regulations are in place. Instead, we should focus on the fact that, while we cannot prevent crime, we CAN respond to criminal acts, and allowing armed citizens in all areas increases the likelihood of taking down a criminal before his body count rises too much.

  28. I think that the over-arching statement is that mass shootings are MORE LIKELY to occur in “gun free” zones.
    NOT so much that shooters ONLY choose the zones because of their “gun free” status. After all, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun, is NOT a sign stating that guns are prohibited…

  29. Despite the fact he did not explicitly use a gun-free designation as a factor, doesn’t mean he would not avoid place where he knew people carried firearms. In fact, lack of security (meaning not just building security and a ease of detection nan escape) was factor and the presence of armed people is part of security. While we cannot prove he explicitly chose a gun-free zone, we can assume armed citizens were likely to deter him as much as armed guards: they do most shooters because he did indicate security of the premises was a factor.

    • Maybe, but the two definitions have so very much in common it can be hard to differentiate!
      I personally believe our understanding of the clinical mental sciences is so primitive and fledgling we should probably err away from giving the benefit of the doubt so much with regards to diminished responsibility, but then again, I am a cynic.

  30. For one killer, the presence of armed security was persuasive.

    White supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. shot up the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California on Aug. 10, 1999. He wounded five people and fled the scene. Shortly thereafter he shot and killed a mail carrier. He later surrendered to authorities after a manhunt. In one of his statements to police, he indicated he looked at two other (Jewish) venues but avoided them because they employed armed guards. The North Valley Jewish Community Center did not.

  31. Perhaps mass shootings take place in “Gun Free Zones” because if there is another gun, there is no mass shooting?

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