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As is always the case when the incomprehensible happens, there’s no shortage of sages and, well, anyone with access to a wi-fi signal who are more than ready to share their insights on the event with the world. And just as Governor Menelaus “Pappy” O’Daniel knew so well, mass communicatin’ is a powerful tool – if a double-edged one. But we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we? So here’s a sampling of some of the sublime and the ridiculous that’s made its way into the ether regarding the Aurora shooting in the last day or so . . .

Roger Ebert’s in the film criticism business. Not a bad gig, since no one can really criticize a critic for expressing an opinion. You either like a movie or you don’t. But when he branches out to current events and politics, things get a little stickier. Sometimes there are facts to contend with. Ebert seemed to have missed one particularly important fact when he wrote in the New York Times that the Batman shooting is proof positive that the fact that any Joe or Jane Schmoe can own a gun really is a bad idea and here’s a good reason why:

The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended.

Since gun owners are an overwhelmingly law-abiding bunch, Cinemark’s policy prohibiting their patrons from carrying firearms in their theaters pretty much accounts for the lack of return fire that James Holmes had to contend with early Friday morning. Ebert must have missed that detail in all the hubbub. That’s a hearty two thumbs down, Rog’.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, is former TTAG contributor Dan Baum’s piece for Harper’s. Dan puts hammer directly to nailhead with some advice for his fellow liberals: stop blaming the guns and look at the people who are pulling the triggers.

Compare [the US media’s emphasis on guns] to the coverage and conversation after Anders Behring Breivik murdered sixty-nine people on the island of Utøya in Norway, a year ago next Sunday. Nobody focused on the gun. I had a hard time learning from the news reports what type of gun he used. Nobody asked, “How did he get a gun?” That seemed strange, because it’s much harder to get a gun in Europe than it is here. But everybody, even the American media, seemed to understand that the heart of the Utøya massacre story was a tragically deranged man, not the rifle he fired. Instead of wringing their hands over the gun Breivik used, Norwegians saw the tragedy as the opening to a conversation about the rise of right-wing extremism in their country.

He also figures that by calling gun-owners gap-toothed bitter clingers, gun control advocates have hurt a lot of their liberal friends’ assorted pet causes.

The harm we’ve done by messing with law-abiding Americans’ guns is significant. In 2010, I drove 11,000 miles around the United States talking to gun guys (for a book to be published in the spring that grew out of an article I wrote for this magazine), and I met many working guys, including plumbers, parks workers, nurses—natural Democrats in any other age—who wouldn’t listen to anything the Democratic party has to say because of its institutional hostility to guns. I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights, and climate change by reflexively returning, at times like these, to an ill-informed call to ban firearms, and we haven’t gotten anything tangible in return. Aside from what it does to the progressive agenda, needlessly vilifying guns—and by extension, their owners—adds to the rancor that has us so politically frozen and culturally inflamed. Enough.

Which brings us to venerable ABC News. They blew just about any credibility they had on the story right out of the box when, in a revealing case of mistaken blame assignment, talking head Brian Ross identified the Aurora shooter as a local Tea Party member. Oops, wrong James Holmes. Anyway, a piece by Bill Weir doesn’t do much to rebuild their credibility. Let’s see, ABC is for gun control – no news there.

There are almost 300 million privately-owned firearms in this country — that’s almost enough to arm every man, woman and child — but while there is a gun in four out of every 10 of American homes, only a small percentage of owners have most of the weapons, with the average collection swelling in recent years to around seven guns per owner.

With this massive supply, prices have dropped. The cost of suspected gunman James Holmes’ massive arsenal was $3,000. And with bullets going for around 50 cents a piece, he could fill the 100-round magazine on his AR-15 rifle for around the cost of a tank of gas.

Weir marshals so many incorrect facts, figures and assumptions to support his, um, point that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, I’m afraid Bruce Krafft would blow a microchip trying to fisk this thing.

Back on the credit side of the ledger, though, is Bob Adelman’s compare and contract exercise at holding the Batman massacre up to another shooting in Aurora that occurred just three months ago. One of these things is not like the other…

On April 22 of this year a convicted felon, just out of jail, went to an Aurora, Colorado, church and shot and killed a member of the congregation before being killed himself by a congregant carrying a gun.

The little-known Aurora-church shooting illustrates how a tragedy (in this instance, the loss of one innocent life) can be prevented from becoming a much worse tragedy because one of the would-be victims was armed. The widely known movie-theater shooting illustrates the horrendous loss of life that can occur when the intended victims are not only defenseless but known by the perpetrator to be defenseless. Because movie theater was a “gun free” zone, it was an easy target for any madman wanting to prey on victims lacking the ability to fight back.

A couple of outlets, HuffPo and AP in particular, are reporting that the 100-round drum magazine used by Holmes in the theater jammed at some point, and thank God for that.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman in a mass shooting at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Leave it to a New York paper to call a pox down on everyone’s houses where guns are concerned. In this case, it’s the Daily News in an editorial entitled, Blood on hands of Obama, Mitt and NRA! – that’s their exclamation point. You fully expect a heapin’ helpin’ of opprobium for the NRA and Mitt (even with his well-documented anti-gun record, Romney is a Republican, after all) but the President gets his own share of the blame, too.

[The President’s] statement about the Aurora massacre was a dodge. Obama said in part: “If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s the reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious, and what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things which so often consume us and our daily lives.”

With all due respect, the presidential takeaway should have been a drive for strengthened gun control, if only for the assault weapons ban. In righteous anger, Obama should have confronted the NRA’s political might regardless of polls that show a strong sentiment against restoring the prohibition.

At least they said, “with all due respect.”

Like the Daily News, somebody named Marcos Breton at the Sacramento Bee (who swears he owns a gun) really hearts the assault weapons ban, too. And he’s not afraid to throw the race card onto the bonfire, either.

You would think that reasonable people – even die-hard Second Amendment defenders – would agree that assault rifles have no place in public life. But no, that goes against the principles that open the door for madmen to spray innocent crowds with ammunition meant for combat.

If Holmes were dark-skinned and Muslim, he’d be called a “terrorist” and would be facing the full weight of American justice and public outrage.

Can’t we all just get along?

But when you want the really important information, America turns to TMZ. They’ve been plumbing the mass murderer’s and profiles to bring us these revealing factoids:

  • Favorite movies: “Too many good movies to have a favorite, maybe Dumb and Dumber, Hachiko, Star Wars, etc.”
  • Favorite book: Where’s Waldo?
  • Political views: Middle of the road
  • Faith: Agnostic
  • Penis Size: short/average
  • Drinking habits: light/social drinker
  • Drug use: “I’d prefer not to say”
  • Mind: Blown

As for that last one, if only.

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  1. “The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended.”

    How many people that fit the demographic (although constantly expanding) of a concealed carry permit holder would go to a Batman movie? At midnight? It may be an entertaining movie, but I have a job. My wife has a job. We have a small child. We don’t go to movies at midnight. I’m not suggesting that everyone in the theater was unemployed, single and childless; but I don’t think the demographics of those attending the movie would match up 1:1 with American society.

    • Shh, that’s logic, we can’t have any of that or the gun-grabbers will throw a tantrum and call you a redneck.

    • um… i guess i don’t count because i don’t fit the demographic. i’m neither old nor fat, and i’m sure not white but i am a male. i went to a midnight showing and i was carrying.

    • I did go, and yes, I did carry too. If a shooter was anywhere but up by the stage, I’d have had a terrible time trying to get a shot. Up on the stage, however, that would be a fairly easy target.

    • I wish they would say how many of the theater goers were armed, I’d guess none as well. But if people want cold hard facts, a mass killing was never made worse because bystanders were armed, some have died taking on the killer…

  2. “But no, that goes against the principles that open the door for madmen to spray innocent crowds with ammunition meant for combat.”

    That’s a laugh. If this country’s citizens were allowed the right to keep and bear arms then we would weapons this moron can’t possibly conceive of. And the politicians would cower in fear, the way they ought to in a free society.

  3. As always, the logic and rationality is in the 2A defenders’ responses, and emotional hysterics, race-baiting, and cowardice is in the gun-grabbers’ court. Isn’t it funny how “tolerant, color-blind” leftists are always the first to force race conflict into everything? SSDD.

    On a side note, I went to a vastly huge gun show in Phoenix the day after the shooting. A very eclectic mix of races and people and families, all the interactions that I saw perfectly respectful, friendly, and perhaps with a bit of camaraderie. Quite a snapshot of the true American spirit, or at least how it should be. Sorry to burst your white-guilt bubbles, progs, but YOU are the enemies of racial harmony.

    I do take exception to this, though:

    “I met many working guys, including plumbers, parks workers, nurses—natural Democrats in any other age—who wouldn’t listen to anything the Democratic party has to say because of its institutional hostility to guns. I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights, and climate change by reflexively returning, at times like these, to an ill-informed call to ban firearms…”

    I believe respecting and abiding the 2A is more in line with generally conservative and classically Democrat thinking and overall spirit. It’s not just about guns, it’s about the Constitution, it’s about personal freedom and self-reliance, it’s about responsibility and traditionally-held values of freedom and resistance to oppression, no matter the form. These are conservative and classically Democratic values, a far cry from the creeping poison that is the modern Progressive taint. To assume that more 2A-followers (who generally follow conservative and true liberal thinking) would vote for socialist health care, corrupt unions, and the made-up climate change farce if you just left their guns alone is quite the stretch. These “Democrats in any other age” still wouldn’t vote for your Progressive filth if you left their guns alone.

    (hit a post glitch, if this is a repeat feel free to delete)

  4. Apparently this shooting got brought up in my sister’s Sunday School class. As my sister reported, few of the people knew the facts (one kid suggested an AK was used, another said an Uzi), only opinions they’d heard. My sister is 14 and she did a fair amount of research before forming an opinion or saying anything. Just goes to show that being informed and reasonable counts in these situations.

  5. yes, i agree that the democrats have lost a lot of support over the issue of guns. i believe in personnel freedom. i don’t care if you marry your own sex or not. i would legalize drugs. i’m pro life but i will not bar those that are pro choice. unfortunately i have to vote with the side that does the least damage to my hot button issue, guns. when nancy pelosi introduces a bill to give carry rights to all americans nationwide i will consider coming to the dem side. not before.

  6. How do we know that someone carrying WASN’T there? It’s really easy to say what you would have done and how you’d have taken him down, blah blah, but like my CCW instructor said, when it hits the fan, you only fall back on your training. Let’s be honest, how many civilians are trained to confront a shooter in a crowded movie theatre, throwing gas bombs, armed with a shotgun, assault rifle, and two semi auto pistols? People in here talk out of both sides of thier mouths all the time…on one hand we have to protect ourselves because the police won’t protect us. On the other hand I see comments all the time from OC and CC’rs alike saying how they aren’t obligated to protect the public, only themselves and thier family if the SHTF. So how do we know that there wasn’t someone armed in that movie theatre who simply got low, and got out.

    • Good observation. Given that this took place in Colorado, I think it is highly likely that one or more patrons were carrying — but I don’t know this for a fact. Also, diving for cover is an instinctive response when being shot at. Absent specific training to do otherwise it is probably the most likely response. It’s even taught to police officers as part of an appropreiate response.

      That said, there are also a few important points that seem to be overlooked by those who insist that armed movie-goers could have reduced the death toll:

      1. The shooter was wearing a full set of body armor from head to toe. I haven’t heard specifically what level of armor it was, but just about any kind at all would have effectively stopped a round from a .380 or .38 spl, while a III or III A would have stopped anything you could conceal without an overcoat. This effectively left the face as a useful target for the typical pocket gun. I don’t know how people do at the ranges where other readers hang out, but most people I’ve observed have a very hard time consistently hitting a target that small at 10 yards even with a full-size pistol and plenty of time to line up the shot. That includes more than a few cops.

      2. It was dark. Not conducive to the accurate, aimed fire that would have been needed to prevail. Anyone without a laser or at least night sights wouls be at a severe disadvantage.

      3. The theater was packed. Unless you were within a row or two of the shooter, and even if you were, you likely would have a very hard time getting a clear shot. It’s entirely possible that armed patrons, if there were any, didn’t shoot because they were concerned about hitting innocent bystanders. This is one reason an armed citizen at the Tucson shooting gave for not drawing and firing his pistol.

      4. The crowd panicked. It’s entirely possible one or more armed patrons were simply trampled or couldn’t get to their gun because they could move.

      5. It happened fast — maybe too fast for untrained or poorly trained or maybe even well-trained personnel to respond, given the other confounding circumstances.

      6. To your last point, shooting back might very well attract special attention from the shooter. It’s entirely possible that a hypothetical armed patron simply thought better of making himself or herself a priority target against a much more heavily armed foe. On a related issue, potential saviors might have held back out of fear of being misidentified as a second bad guy, and gettign shot by responding police or another armed citizen. This is another reason an armed citizen at the Tucson shooting gave for not drawing his weapon.

      You are correct that most citizens are not at all prepared to confront someone armed as this nut was. But if there were any armed patrons in the crowd, I would not fault them for a minute if they held back due to any of the above conditions. I would go so far to say that they acted prudently by not firing into a panicked crowd in a dark theater. Doing so could just as easily have increased the death toll as reduced it.

      • 1) There are conflicting reports as to if his body armor had any armor to it at all.

        2) Theater goers were already exposed to the darkness. Short of any night-blindness, all eyes were adjusted as best as they could to see everything in the room.

        3) Yes, the theater was packed, nearly everyone hit the deck. Those who stood to run, were targeted by the BG who’s strategy was to encourage THAT kind of behavior.

        4) I’ll give you that one. It is plausible.

        5) Maybe. More precisely those with little or no training. A person fully trained for combat or self defense, less likely to panic (but not impossible.)

        6) Again, plausible.

        Others have examined the data and the layouts and have determined that it would be possible to have at least tried to stop the BG had they the courage and a gun.

        That aside, we have had too many armchair-heroes post that they would have taken him out. They weren’t there to prove their boasts. Undoubtedly, some would have panicked, and others would have not taken any chance. Yet, there were movie goers that sacrificed themselves for others there, and others that did absolutely nothing but look out for #1 by hiding under the guise of “every man, woman, and child for themselves.”

        A side-effect of this armchair-hero business is it can feed the anti-gunners excuses to call gun owners crazies.

  7. The morning of the shooting, when all the first details were being spewed, I had to turn off the radio. The initial eye witness reports included a talk of “a full auto AK-47”. The drive-time DJ went on an impromptu gun control rant. He gave a 15 second description of the NFA, GCA-68, and FOPA-86, then summarized it with an impassioned “See how easy it is!? Any person can get one of these fully automatic machine guns just by filling out a couple of forms and paying $200! This is insane! We must change this!” I spent the next 20 minutes giving an lecture on the NFA process to my friends in the car.

  8. You would think that reasonable people – even die-hard Second Amendment defenders – would agree that assault rifles have no place in public life.

    I disagree that assault rifles (an automatic rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine) have no place in public life. But that’s irrelevant anyway, because Mr. Holmes didn’t use one of those. He used an assault weapon, which is a generic term for firearms that resemble military assault rifles.

    I have seen a great deal of confusion between the two terms over the last couple days, and I have corrected others’ confusion and misuse whenever possible.

  9. Poor Dan Baum laments the Democrats inability to cram a lot of useless sh!t down our throats because the party’s institutional hatred of guns has alienated it from its base. My feeling is exactly the opposite: thank god that the Democratic party hates guns. If it didn’t, we might all be armed, but we’d be living in a country like one of the European socialist states, except with nicer beaches.

    • +1

      Hatred of guns is not just another policy of the party, it’s a symptom of the entire overall mentality.

  10. I saw a tagline for one of those hideously useless CNN “iReports” a few hours ago: “AK-47s have no place in public life.” I was hoping it was just a disgruntled hunter with a bolt-action rifle.

    Obviously, no guns have a place in “public life” if their snout is pointed at you while you are minding your business. You don’t want people to spray you down from the pumps while you pass by the Shell station, either. That doesn’t mean that the dangers of guns and gases override their intended uses or exclude them from areas when they are kept as safely as possible. But shucks, I hate groundwater contamination.

  11. Also, I was given to understand that the term “assault weapon” is merely the concoction of mid-90s anti-gun legislators. Was it even in common use before then, even in different settings? Surely, in reference to the current sloppy “points systems” we have, there wasn’t anything like the term before that burst of legislation.

      • Indeed, I’ve seen military instructors give people a talking-to when they call a rifled weapon a “gun.” If you really want to piss one of them off, talk casually about blasting a clip through your deagle gun 😉

        • “This is my rifle….this is my gun….this one’s for killing…this one’s for fun….”

  12. I so agree with Dan Baum’s observation that our media hysteria and fixation on guns has led to a failure to rationally discuss what is the REAL cause of this tragedy – a mentally troubled individual who thought it appropriate to inflict carnage on a society that did not agree with him in one way or another.

  13. It’s possible I’ve forgotten one, but memory fails to bring to mind a single shooting like this where the intended victims were armed, or even allowed to be armed. Even at Fort Hood, Major Whatshisname’s victims were forbidden from carrying weapons.

    The common ingredient seems to be forced defenselessness.

    • Only our little friend Loughner was not in a gun free zone, but I agree, the common thread appears to be lots of unarmed potential victims. But it would also seem that that is typical because each of these perpetrators is out to inflict the greatest amount of carnage.

  14. “I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights,…”

    DB believes that generations of progress have been sacrificed on women’s rights by the Democrats alienating large numbers of gun owners with their anti-gun extremism? Is he for real? The social conservative Republicans are almost as bad as the modern liberal Democrats in passing anti-male laws. What rights err I mean special class status laws, programs, and courtesy don’t women get in America?

  15. Any guy who would admit on his dating profile to a “short/average” unit size is either crazy or working some really deep reverse psychology. Odds tilt toward crazy. Maybe that’s the kind of background check the gov’t should be doing.

  16. When I took the concealed carry class here in NC there were at least two rules that would have prevented a law-abider with a gun from carrying into a similar theater situation: Under “Prohibited Carry Areas” 1) Any property posted by the owner prohibiting concealed carry, and 2) Any assembly where admission is charged. So a free movie in the park, armed. Buy a ticket, unarmed. Makes sense to me, not!


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