At least 12 dead and dozens injured, several seriously.
One gunman and one crowded theater.
The specter of copycats.
Bay Area residents turned on the T.V. news Friday morning to see live shots coming from Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes, an suspected 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 news briefing, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates confirmed that a total of 71 people had been shot by the gunman at the packed screening. President Obama, speaking at a rally in Fort Myers, Fla., said that the tragedy hit close to home for many Americans.
“My daughters go to the movies — what if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater?” said Obama.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 2001, Americans have been on various levels of alert. Anyone with an ounce of cynicism has recognized that 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 from Columbine High, where two teenagers killed 12 and injured dozens before killing themselves in April 1999.
All such events — not just the local ones — remind us of how vulnerable we are. But should they change the way we live? And, if so, how?
Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security? Should 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?
What do you think should change in light of the Aurora tragedy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.