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Maybe you think you are, but trust me, you're not Rambo.  You're not Dirty Harry.  You are not Detective John McClane (from the Die Hard movies).  I know you want to help.  It's a noble trait. I want to help too.  But answers are difficult to come by.  Especially after a tragedy like the one in Aurora, CO, this past weekend.

Some of you think that if more people would carry concealed handguns that somehow the tragedy might have been averted or diminished somehow.  "If only someone in that theater had a gun to shoot back with..." the logic goes.  I recall hearing much of the same just after the tragedy at Virginia Tech several years ago.

Close your eyes for a moment for me, please...  OK, that does not work when I'm typing this and you're trying to read it.  It would work so much better if I could tell you out loud what I'm about to write.  So, please try to 'see' the image I'm about to paint with my words.  I'm not the best wordsmith (or even a good one), so please work with me.

I do not know if I should put a disclaimer on here or not.  While I do not know if I will succeed, I will try to paint a somewhat graphic picture of a fictitious shoot out in a theater.  Well, I guess i there is a disclaimer there after all.

You and your friend/child/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse decide to go see some new move where the theater will be quite crowded.  You arrive on time and decide to sit about half way down on the left hand side of the theater.  So, about half of the people are behind you and most of them are on your right.  The pre-movie conversation is good.  The popcorn is good. The ice cold soda is good too.  Soon it's commercials (yuck!), and then previews (yay!), and finally the movie you're here to see.

The movie is fantastic.  You want to talk to your seatmate about it, but you're a well-mannered person, so you hold off until the movie is over. Then..

Loud sharp noises erupt in the theater.  For a few seconds you're confused.  The sounds do not jive with what's going on in the movie.  Then the screams start.

You look around frantically.  You see smoke and bright flashes of light at the back of the theater on the other side of the theater.  You push your seatmate down onto the floor and draw your own handgun.  You WILL put a stop to this.  You turn toward the latest series of flashes, which you know are muzzle flashes.  One... Two... Three shots erupt from your own gun.  The flashes at the back of the theater don't stop though.  

Then you hear more loud booms, but not from the back of the theater.  These are up front but still on the other side of the theater.  Good grief, there are two shooters!

You turn to the front shooter and let loose another three rounds.  Since this shooter is closer to the screen, you can see him go down in the reflected light of the movie screen, presumably from your own rounds.  More booms.

Then intense pain.

You realize that you've been shot!  This is definitely not the way it plays out in Halo or Socom or Call of Duty.   Darn!  It hurts!  In a panic you turn back to the rear of the theater and with renewed confidence despite the pain (I mean, you did take out the second shooter up front!), you fire more rounds towards the shooter at the rear of the theater.  It had to be him. Somehow you missed him the first three times you fired in his direction.

Elsewhere in the theater...

Another shooter mentally gives himself a high five.  His shots have knocked you down.  He, too, heard the booms.  However, he saw your muzzle flashes as you were drawing a bead on the first shooter in the rear of the theater.  This shooter was a little smarter and dropped to one knee before firing in your direction.  His first shot clipped you in the shoulder.  But his second and third killed your seatmate instantly.


The first shooter sees the flashes that took you down and turns toward this shooter, unleashing round after round in that general direction.  You should be relieved to know that the shooter that killed your seatmate is now dead at the hands of the original shooter (turns out that kneeling behind a movie theater seat does not provide that much protection in a gun fight...).  Well, and another four people who had the misfortune of sitting near that 'hero' and were killed by the original shooter's return fire.


Now with muzzle flashes all over the place, more and more shooters join the fracas.  No one knows who is shooting at whom.  (Remember, it's kind of dark in a theater)

People are falling over as they try desperately to get out of the theater.

Hours later the picture begins to unfold.  There are five people dead with guns in their hands or at least near their bodies.  Anyway, the police have collected five guns other than the ones that the original shooter used.  The original shooter somehow manages to survive without a scratch on him.  Fate sucks sometimes.

All in all thirty people have died in the mess.  That's including our five heroic gunmen. Oh, yeah, you died shortly after the police arrived to restore order.  As it turns out, the shoulder is a really crappy place to get shot.  Hollywood sucks at the whole truth telling thing.  The shot that "only" hit you in the shoulder nicked your superior thoracic artery.  You bled out.

Almost two weeks later the stats are all in.  

The original shooter killed 20 people, including two of the heroic gunmen.

You killed the man up front and one person sitting beside him.  (Thank goodness for ballistics to prove who fired what...)

The guy up front killed your seatmate.

The other seven fatalities were spread out amongst the other three heroic gunmen.

Five heroes killed ten innocent people and no one got the original gunman.

Great outcome there, Rambo.  Just fantastic.


As a point of reference, I own several handguns.  I love to shoot at paper targets.  I do not have a concealed carry permit.  I do not necessarily have a problem with well trained people carrying concealed weapons.  I just don't like the idea of shootouts at the local theater or Wal Mart of Subway restaurant.

Like I said earlier...  I know you want to help, but this may not be the best way to do so.

(Paragraph edited to correct factual error.  Tip to self: spend time with Mr Google next time.)

I remember a story after the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona a while back.  A man was across the street in a store when he heard the shots ring out.  He ran out of the store he was in and drew his weapon and looked around.  He said he saw a man on the ground with a foot on his neck.  That foot belonged to a person holding a handgun on the man on the ground.  The man who exited the store said his initial thought was to draw a bead on the man with the gun clicked off the safety on his handgun and had his hand on the weapon, ready to draw, thinking he was the root of all of the mischief.  But something made him hold off for a second. Turns out the original shooter was the one on the ground and a good Samaritan had the shooter under control.  Our would be hero stopped to think for a second and further tragedy was averted.  I hope the thought went through our would be hero's head that he would have had to fire into a crowd and if he had missed he might have hit an innocent bystander.  {ADD} The good Samaritan said he was 'lucky' he did not draw and shoot.  He admitted to having no formal weapons training.

Between movies and video games we've somehow gotten conditioned to this whole 'shooting is easy' concept.  I've put close to seven hundred rounds through my two .22 handguns and am only a fair to middling shooter (I get mostly 9's and 10's on the paper targets at ten yards.) And that's taking my time in a well lit shooting range.  Without people shooting back.  I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm wise enough to know that I am not Rambo.

The thought of a crowded place full of would be Rambo's scares the bejabbers out of me.  I know you want to help, but this is not the way to do it.

(And no, banning handguns is not the way either.)

(Please help me with any tags you think might help the diary out.  Thanks in advance.)


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Comment Preferences

  •  You're right, and I like this, and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert in WV, BachFan, exlrrp

    it's enough of a pain in the ass to see who's shooting when people are wearing uniforms, or when even just your own side has uniforms and the other side doesn't.

    I'm usually a person who does, indeed, feel that "a CCW person at this situation could have made a difference" but I never felt that way reading the Aurora situation. I know that it would be a damn chaotic environment, too dark, too disorienting, and too tightly packed. The best thing a CCW holder could do would be to stay down, protect your loved one(s) near you, and wait for it to be over.

    Only if you actually see the guy approaching you directly (and coming down a row of theater seats in his gear and helmet and rifle he'd actually be more discernible) would I personally risk it, but at that point, yeah, you really have nothing left to lose because he'd be at the point where he's checking to make sure his victims are dead. "Playing Dead" would probably be risky, especially if he's going around to each body to "make sure", as sometimes happens in these things.

    Some good-ol'-boy ya-hoo blazing away would have just made it worse.

  •  An interesting absence of data (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert in WV

    An elaborate, imaginative scenario is not likely to persuade anyone, otherwise you would be persuaded by those who can imagine themselves taking the shooter out.

    Experience is the only thing that can settle the issue.  As far as I know, for all the mass shootings that have occurred over the years, there has never been a single one that was brought to a quick resolution through the intervention of a civilian who was carrying a gun.  Nor has there been one that was made worse by a civilian firing back.  Given all the people who own and carry guns, the absence of any evidence one way or the other is rather surprising.

    •  I agree that I won't change anyone's mind (0+ / 0-)

      but I'm tired of hearing a lot of my good old boy friends and friends of friends lamenting: "Boy, if I'd have been there, I'd have stopped that sucker cold."

      Very little in life is that cut and dried, I think.

      I wonder when some madman will cross paths with one (or more) Rambos and we get an OK Corral type shoot out.  The thought of it scares me to the point of incoherence.

    •  Given the relatively small number of mass... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robert in WV

      ...slayings over the past 20 years when CHLs have become more widespread, I don't think it's so surprising.

      We do have plenty of evidence, however, that unskilled people are getting CHLs, and even those who do have some kind of firearms training shouldn't be allowed to carry. Here's just one of many, many examples:

      A Philadelphia man showing off what he thought was an unloaded gun the day before he was to start a job as a security guard accidentally shot a friend in the face and killed her, police said.

      Sandrea Smith, 35, of the 2900 block of North 26th Street, was shot once in the left cheek and died at the scene, according to police. The shooting occurred about 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

      The incident happened in a bedroom of a home in the 2100 block of East Somerset Street in Kensington. Robert Jones, 36, who resides at the address, was charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering another person, and weapons charges.

      Police said Jones, who thought the gun was not loaded, had taken gun-safety classes for an armed security-guard certification and had a Florida permit to carry a gun.

      Kee-ripes. What is the FIRST lesson in any decent firearms class? Treat EVERY gun as if it were loaded.

      CHLs need to be granted only after extensive training (or testing of an applicant's proves there is no need for that training). Right now, most states do not require anything worthy of being called adequate in CHL training.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:53:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most likely (0+ / 0-)

      anyone present at one of these shootings that is armed gets themselves and their companions out of harm's way rather than running off to confront an unknown number of armed assailants alone.

  •  Something like this happened after the Giffords (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    shootings.  A guy who did have a gun ran over to the crowd and demanded that the person holding the gun drop it.  He almost shot the guy holding the gun.  What he didn't realize was that that person had just taken it away from the actual shooter.

    I read this in a Daily Kos diary, but don't have a reference to it -- sorry!

  •  You are factually wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    You don't have a CHL. You seem to be unaware that to get your CHL YOU MUST GET TRAINING.


    So go get your CHL. You'll have to take classes, and in those classes you will learn that YOU DO NOT ACT LIKE A FUCKWAD AND SHOOT AT FLASHES IN THE DARK!

    So there's the entire point of your poorly-conceived propaganda story blown out of the water right there. The people in your story know just about as much about carrying in public as you do, which I would categorize as "Worse than Nothing".

    Furthermore, you have gotten a crucial key fact wrong in your story about the gabby giffords shooting.

    The guy (zamudio) who came out did NOT draw his pistol like you say. He put his hand on it as he was observing the scene, ready to pull it out BUT DID NOT DRAW IT.

    Why didn't he draw it? Because he was following proper training. Training that says you observe what the hell is going on and determine that there is a valid reason to shoot before beginning to remove the firearm from the secure holster.

    Zamudio was interviewed in a soundbite frenzy media interview, and had no preparation. He's not a talking head, he's not a public speaker for a living, he's just a guy on the street who isn't used to having a microphone shoved in his face and being on national television. So give the random john q public a break when he gets interrupted in the middle of a poorly constructed answer to a leading question, and never is given a chance to correct the record as reported by chris mathews.

    Fact is, Zamudio came out of the pharmacy with his hand holding the grip of his pistol but keeping it in the holster. Zamudio sees a tangle of people wrestling over a gun, but does not draw because it's not acceptable to shoot into a crowd.

    But you would know this if you went to the effort of learning the obligations that go along with the decision to carry.

    •  Turns out I was wrong about the Giffords deal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (Link is in another comment above).

      And stop being so sanctimonious.  My good old boy friends DO have concealed carry permits.  And they do scare me.  I will not personally attack you as you did me.

      By the way, I have taken several handgun safety courses.  Enough so that to get my concealed carry permit is only a formality.  I just don't want to get one.  Not as political statement in any way; just that I do not plan to carry so the permit would be superfluous.  

      You really should be more careful in jumping to conclusions about people before going off.  Of course the story was a fiction.  I mean, I stated that much up front.

      •  Then why did you make up a blatant false story? (0+ / 0-)

        If you KNOW the difference between when to shoot and when not to shoot, then why did you intentionally remove that information from the people in your make-believe theater?

        That's information that they would reasonably have possessed, and you stripped it from your fictional characters just so you could describe some wild exchange of gunfire by muzzle flashes in the dark.

        In movies we suspend a measure of rationality for the entertainment of a good story. Your story requires suspension of rationality just to try and describe irrational behaviour.

        Poor show.

        •  I did not remove (0+ / 0-)

          any information from the diary.

          The story was made up.  Again, stipulated in the diary itself.  There is a difference between a "false" story (your word) and a fiction (my word).

          Unless they are blowhard cowards, my friends have indicated that they WOULD have stopped this sucker before things got out of hand.  So they're wither willing to shoot up a packed theater, or they're blowhards.

          My concern is that they're not blowing smoke and that they WOULD have opened fire in response.

    •  Oh, and (0+ / 0-)

      Zamudio admits that he has had no formal training.  Just that he was familiar with guns and handling them.  He attributes not shooting to luck and not training.

      And, Mr factually correct, the weapon was not holstered.  It was in a jacket pocket.

      •  And yet he still didn't pull it out. (0+ / 0-)

        Securely carried in a holster on his belt, from which it doesn't get pulled until it's time to actually shoot.....
        Securely carried in his jacket, from which it STILL didn't get pulled because it STILL wasn't time to actually shoot.

        Distinction without a material difference.

        You are STILL factually incorrect in that Zamudio did not draw his pistol. You are still factually wrong for making that statement.

        I'm fine with my mistake on the exact method of how he had it secured, my point lies with the fact that he never removed it from it's carrying location. It stayed stowed, unlike your claim.

    •  In Colorado. the training is as little as three... (0+ / 0-)

      ...hours and does not require the person to actually shoot a gun. Thus, someone who has NEVER fired a pistol could get the license. I am certain that you would agree that three hours without a single live-fire is inadequate to even gain the label of training.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:31:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Someone similar to... (0+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:34:41 PM PDT

  •  I'm not Rambo? (0+ / 0-)

    But....but....but....I'm so buff....and I have such a terrific sneer

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:54:36 PM PDT

  •  Great Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert in WV

    and at the risk of applauding myself, it reminded me of my recent FB status message:

    I'm not a big gun control guy but it drives me crazy that Gun Nuts (you know who you are) can't just stand up and say "This is the price of freedom. Every year or two, some nutter is going to stand up in a crowded public place and do something really God damn crazy with a firearm. The alternative is a more intrusive government, and we think that is worse." Instead they have to pretend that the chaos caused by one gun would ALWAYS be thwarted if only there had been MORE guns present. You're entitled to fantasize that you would have stood up and shot this asshole between the eyes. But I have news for you buckaroo, that is very, very unlikely.

    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

    by Spider Stumbled on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:53:50 PM PDT

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