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Colorado Massacre: Will It Change Our View of Personal Safety?

A discussion point since 9/11, will the mayhem at the Batman movie make us rethink security at movie theaters, malls or school events? Join the discussion, vote in the poll.

Update 10:45 a.m.: A Reddit page here has a comprehensive timeline of the number of killed and injured.

Californians 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.

At least 12 are dead and dozens injured. The number of deaths and injuries wasn't confirmed at the time this story published.

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, including the April shooting at Oakland's Oikos University. 

Here in San Mateo, a former Hillsdale High School student three years ago brought a chainsaw, 10 pipe bombs and a knife to campus in an attempt to kill his teachers. The former student, Alexander Youshock, was  last year of attempted murder for the Aug. 24, 2009, incident, in which teachers tackled him, preventing anyone from being injured.

These events 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?

Or should gun laws be reevaluated in the long term to better regulate the public's purchasing of weapons? What do you think this morning in light of Aurora, the newest name in tragedy?

Taylor Wiles contributed to this article.

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Jim C July 20, 2012 at 04:54 PM
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you see someone (or, in this case, a picture of someone) that says "don't trust this person" or "there's something wrong with this person"? Trust that feeling. Best personal defense EVER.
Taylor Wiles July 20, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Jim C, fyi: that photo you saw this morning was of a man arrested for committing a shooting at a McDonald's in Southern California in 1984. I took it down because it does not directly relate to the story here, though your comment may still be true.
Jim C July 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Well, that's kind of funny. But I stand by my earlier statement. Trust your instincts.

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