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Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Perspective on the Colorado Shooting

AURORA, CO - JULY 20:  The Century 16 movie th...
AURORA, CO - JULY 20: The Century 16 movie theatre is seen where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises' July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. According to reports, over 10 people have been killed and over 30 injured. Police have the suspect, twenty-four year old James Holmes of North Aurora, in custody. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
This has been a very sad and tough time for the citizens of Aurora, Colorado, the State of Colorado and this Nation.  I have watched the news reports, listened to the survivors talk, the victims families, the Police and other First Responders and the politicians.  Usually I keep to myself on such things and try to learn a personal lesson from tragedies such as this mass shooting but this time I feel like it is time to throw out some things.

I have been hearing so much about all the "what ifs" out there.  What if the Aurora Police would have had security at the theater for the opening of The Dark Knight Rises?  What if concealed weapons would have been allowed in the theater?  What if we had better gun control? What if? What if? What if?

What if we first pay attention to the victims of this mass shooting, those that died and those that survived.  Making sure that they are comforted, and cared for.  This is the main task at hand.  The suspect was captured and he will be dealt with.

Now for all the other what if questions.  Would the normal two off-duty officers that work the theater on the weekends have stopped this?  Probably not.  The Dark Knight Rises was playing in multiple theaters and there is no way they could have officers in every theater.  The suspect had a plan, more than likely he had cased the theater in advance.  Having worked off-duty security in a multiplex theater I can tell you that it is a security nightmare if something like this shooting would happen.  First, the suspect had the element of surprise, sad to say, he had the upper hand from the very beginning.  If an officer, or two, had been in the theater when this happened they would have been in no better situation then those there to watch the movie.  Someone told me that they would have guns and could have shot back.  Really?  Once the tear gas and shots rang out PANIC also began.  As a police officer, I can tell you that just because I have a gun does not mean I am super man.  Hundreds of people began to run, jump, drop to the floor.  Even the best trained officer would find this situation a nightmare to find out who is doing the shooting and then to even try to take a shot without hitting one of the hundreds of people running.

The other what if I have been asked and seen posted throughout the Internet is one concerning a law abiding citizen carrying concealed in the theater.  Maybe, maybe not.  Right place, right time.  Again you still have mass panic, disorientation, darkness, lack of formal training and the big one in my mind how do you shoot at a single person without hitting the hundreds that are trying to flee.  My biggest issue with this is what would keep the fleeing people from thinking you were just another gunman in the dark trying to do the same thing the suspect was doing, kill people.

I listened to one of the victims that was shot and survived talk on the news last night and she said something that really hit home with me.  She was a veteran and been to Iraq.  She said that in Iraq you always expected something could happen but in that theater no one expected anything to happen.  No one could have been prepared for what occurred.  That is key here.  If we are to start to expect things like this will occur then we as a society would have to change our whole way of life when we go out.

As always, after a tragedy such as this, the politicians, and others, come out and start yelling Gun Control.  I am a firm believer of the 2nd Amendment but I also do not believe that it gives us the right to arm ourselves to the point of having more firepower then most small countries.  There has to be a middle ground in the type of weapons that can be obtained.  This suspect had obtained all of his weapons legally as well as all of his ammunition. As for the body armor, why does anyone that is not police or military need body armor?  I know there are those out there that feel that is something they should have a right to own as well.

So what is the right answer to stopping this from happening again?  I am not really sure other then to say we must keep living and believing in who we are and that things like this are mostly random acts of violence by people with issues.  Does that mean we should not protect ourselves?  Of course not, but we live in a society that has done very well at protecting it's people.  We have a strong legal system, although not perfect.  We have a strong government, although not perfect.  We have the worlds best law enforcement and military, although not perfect.  We have more rights then most other countries in this world.  I have lived or visited over 30 countries in my life and I can say without a doubt we may not be a perfect nation of people but this is the best country in the world to live free and in peace.

The Aurora Police Department and all of the other First Responders did exactly what they were trained to do.  Their fast response most likely saved lives and they should all be thanked for what they do every day.  I am proud to be a Law Enforcement Officer.
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