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Does Aurora Massacre Change Our View of Soft Targets?

A discussion point since 9/11, will the mayhem at the Batman screening in Colorado make us rethink security at movie theaters, malls or school events? Let us know your thoughts.

At least 12 dead and dozens injured, several seriously.

One gunman and one crowded theater.

The specter of copycats.

San Rafael residents awake Friday morning to live shots coming from Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes, a young gunman reportedly wearing a gas mask and a bulletproof vest, opened fire during a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, a movie expected to gross $200 million this weekend.

The number of deaths and injured isn't confirmed. As information become available the figures could change up or down. But no matter what the final numbers are, there is one definitive: It's a tragedy.

Since the September 11 terror attacks of 2001, Americans have been on various levels of alert, but anyone with an ounce of cynicism has recognized that movie theaters, malls and school events—so-called soft targets because they are gathering locations with little security—are ripe for domestic terror for deranged madmen.

The Friday morning massacre at the Century 16 theater in Aurora took place 19 miles and 13 years from Columbine High, but it’s the kind of tragedy that can open up wounds in every region in America.

These sorts of events remind us of just how vulnerable we are. And it brings with it the specter of copycats who think they can do it just a little better—or bigger.  

The incident Friday morning is likely to start a discussion—a very real, very serious discussion—about soft targets.

Let's start it here.

Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security, or will a thick dude in a yellow jacket be enough to stop someone carrying a gun who wants to get in with or without a ticket? Will there be no more dress-up at the theater, which apparently allowed the Aurora gunman to enter with a handgun, a rifle, a gas canister and a gas mask?

What do you think this morning in light of Aurora, the newest name in tragedy? 

Ella July 21, 2012 at 01:50 AM
"Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security..." No. Absolutely not. If you make a trip to the movie theater about as fun as a trip to the airport, you destroy a great American pastime, strip the entertainment value from a trip to the movies, and likely devastate an industry that is already struggling to cope with the loss of moviegoers to home theater systems. This was an isolated tragedy, and everyone is rattled and scared, but there's no need to overreact. If we require massive security at theaters, what's next? Why not metal detectors and pat downs at the entrance to the mall? At the outdoor concerts in the summer? At Train Town? Everything is a "soft target" if you get right down to it. We need to have some perspective and keep our heads.
Norm Levin July 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Agree with Ella. However let's turn our attention rather from the "soft targets" to the "hard threats", the profusion of easily obtainable weapons of mass destruction that have now been allowed to permeate our society. Why only take highly costly (and of dubious results) action against foreign threats (Iraq, Afghanistan), when our own home-grown varieties are just as deadly? A machine gun in a suburban theatre will kill the innocent no less effectively than explosive underwear on an plane.
Suzie July 23, 2012 at 07:22 PM
The idea that someone could enter a movie theater wearing a gas mask and toting an M16 is ridiculous. It's my understanding that the Aurora gunman gained entry illegally through an emergency exit door, making this whole conversation about metal detectors pointless. Check your facts. And, here's a novel idea - instead of making it harder to gain entrance to a movie theater, let's make it harder to buy an assault rifle.

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