Twelve moviegoers have been reported dead and 59 are wounded in Aurora, Colorado.
One gunman and one crowded theater.
The specter of copycats.
Western Washington woke up Friday morning to live video 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.
Since the Sept. 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 or deranged madmen.
The Friday morning massacre at the Century 16 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.
- The shooting at Cafe Racer in May shook Seattle when four were shot dead and five injured in a random shooting inside the coffee shop. Another woman was murdered by the gunman in a carjacking just afterward, before the gunman took his own life.
- In 2006, a gunman hunted down guests at a Capitol Hill late-night house party and fatally shot six people, including teenagers. The incident has been nicknamed the Capitol Hill Massacre. He shot himself as police arrived.
- In 2005, a deranged gunman walked into the Tacoma Mall and shot over 20 rounds of ammunition into the crowd of shoppers. Six were shot and the shooter held four people hostage but no one was killed.
Nationwide, this is the sixth mass, random shooting of the year. All such events—not just the local ones—remind us of just how vulnerable we are.
And they bring the specter of copycats who think they can do it just a little better—or bigger.
Do we keep the status quo and prove that we haven’t been beaten, or do we make changes because we want to see next year, want to see our kids get married and our grandkids grow up?
The incident Friday morning is likely to start a discussion—a very real, very serious discussion—about personal safety in public places.
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?