Aurora Colorado Century 16 Theater Shooting

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This week’s shooting incident at Aurora’s Century 16 theater  is almost too much to bear. Experts are saying that 24-year-old James E. Holmes was planning this horror for months, buying weapons, ammunition, and explosives. He even booby-trapped his apartment before leaving for the theater.

The Internet is abuzz with speculation around how Holmes gained access to his weaponry, and what could have been done to detect and prevent him from carrying out his plan. Did anyone notice but ignore the signs that this lone wolf was capable of such bloodletting? What if mail order purchase of ammunition was banned? What if he couldn’t have bought a 100-round magazine for his rifle? It’s pretty obvious that Holmes had been planning his assault for months. Can it be possible that someone noticed something wrong but didn’t speak up?  If he could not have gotten his supplies legally would he have found other means, or just given up?

There are dozens of discussions on whether or not citizens licensed by the state of Colorado to legally carry their own weapons would have been able to take out Mr. Holmes early on if the Century 16 theater in Aurora didn’t have a weapons ban in place. From what I have read so far, Holmes was not wearing a bulletproof vest, but just a nylon assault vest. There are cases like the 71-year-old with a concealed weapon permit who stopped a robbery in Florida last week, so it is plausible.

We aways seem to be fighting the last war, as evidenced by having to take off our shoes at the airport after Richard Reid tried to light his up on an airplane. So after the fact, theater chains have implemented rules banning the “wearing of masks or costumes that makes other patrons uncomfortable.” Unfortunately, this rule would not have prevented the Aurora incident since Mr. Holmes wasn’t wearing his gear into the theater. Before entering the theatre with everyone else, he placed his clothes and weapons cache outside of an emergency exit which he propped open so that he could get to it. Perhaps a law that emergency exits need to trigger an alarm would be a better move?

Not to minimize the horror of what happened, but there is no such thing as absolute security. Even if you lock yourself in your house’s safe room and never go out, the food and water supply aren’t 100% free from risk either. So the best that you can do is to be prepared for whatever comes at you, and that was the premise of my series on active shooters. That means gaining appropriate training and being prepared. Not just for an active shooter, but for a hurricane, flood, earthquake, pandemic, and other disasters.

There are plenty of training classes on the web or taught in person by organizations such as the Red Cross. Make a kit, have a plan, and stay informed is their motto. Do you or someone in your family know basic first aid and CPR? If not, then why not? When my mother-in-law collapsed in her chair, I was the only one amongst 9 adults and 8 teens whose training kicked in to tell my wife’s sister call 911 while I got her mother to a safe position on the floor.

Some active shooter resources:

So be safe, be prepared, and don’t let the crazies and terrorists win.


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