Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Was theater a gun-free zone?

Questions are already arising in the Denver Post ( as to whether the movie theater where a madman shot and killed 12 people and injured 59 last week might be in any way liable.

The only question I have is, is the Century Aurora 16 Theater a gun-free zone?

When I lived in Aurora, Colo. in the early 1970s, I lived about four miles south of that theater's location. As a reserve deputy sheriff, I often carried off-duty. Or I did, until the election of a new sheriff brought an educator into office and he canceled our 24/7 commissions.

The new sheriff left us with our concealed-carry permits, but he restricted our law-enforcement authority to on-duty hours. One of my big questions at that time was my risk when I was in uniform and armed and riding my private-owned, police-equipped motorcycle to the department to go on-duty and pick up my portable radio. I never got an answer as to what I was to do if flagged down by a citizen and informed that a bank was being robbed.

Since I would be officially off-duty, I asserted that I'd give the citizen a dime and tell him to call it in. That would be lousy public relations, since he would see me as a Deputy. But I wasn't; I was only dressed like one. Several other reserve deputies and I stopped carrying off-duty, because we well understood the personal financial risk if he intervened in a criminal situation without authority.

Rep. Jack Franks voted for concealed carry in Illinois in May 2011, when he voted for HB 0148. The bill almost passed the House. Unfortunately, Illinois House leadership is believed to have muscled a few Cook County Representatives, and the bill could not get the 71 votes needed.

One of Jack's previous reasons for not favoring concealed carry was that he worried about his own liability, if he declared his law office as a Gun-Free Zone (GFZ). What would happen if a divorce client was in his law office and the spouse came and started blazing away? Well, obviously, the only really important factor would be that his client and he would be dead, because they wouldn't have had a chance to shoot back.

I have not seen in the news that the Century Aurora 16 Theater was or was not a GFZ. No information is available on their website this week. It looks like the entire theater is closed; there are no show times for any movie.

What if there had been 5-10 people in the audience who were armed? Holders of concealed-carry privileges understand very well their responsibilities and liability. They might have had an opportunity to shoot James Holmes, who was wearing armored protective gear. Whether a lucky shot might have dropped him is anyone's guess.

1 comment:

Gus said...

A reader has sent me the following article from

My guess is that the theater chain will end up in the middle of a lot of nasty lawsuits because of their policy of no-guns-in-the-theater.