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I heard a claim on an AM radio talk show that in the July 2012 Aurora, CO movie theater mass shooting rampage (also known as the Batman shooting), the killer chose the only local theater that was a "gun free zone" to carry out his crime -- knowing the customers would be defenseless.

This claim is repeated in an opinion piece published by Fox News

So why did the killer pick the Cinemark theater? You might think that it was the one closest to the killer’s apartment. Or, that it was the one with the largest audience. Yet, neither explanation is right. Instead, out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned. In Colorado, individuals with permits can carry concealed handgun in most malls, stores, movie theaters, and restaurants. But private businesses can determine whether permit holders can carry guns on their private property. Most movie theaters allow permit holders carrying guns. But the Cinemark movie theater was the only one with a sign posted at the theater’s entrance...

The article cites a blog by John Lott, which carries an entry for 8/15/2012 entitled: "So are movie theaters near where the Aurora, Colorado killer lived posted to prevent concealed carry?"

Below is the list of theaters that I obtained from the above link. Of the seven theaters showing The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th that were within a 20 minute drive of the movie theater, six allowed permitted concealed handguns and only one denied them at the time of the attack.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has a website where they have collected information on whether movie theaters have been posted as not allowing concealed carry available here. The only theater that they note to where the killer lived that was posted was the Century Cinemark Theater. However, I did not rely on their listing for any of the information provided below as it is based on permit holders reporting that information to the RMGO group. Though it is interesting to note, that for movie theaters within 20 minutes of where the killer lived and showing The Dark Knight Rises, this source only lists the Century Cinemark Theater as the only place that posted a "no weapons" sign.

Because of the impassioned political arguments surrounding guns in the USA, it is difficult to know if the facts presented are accurate. There could be many other reasons for selecting a target theater besides whether some of the customers or workers are likely to be armed (e.g. familiarity, who works there, ease of using fire exit to bring in guns)... but we may never know the motivations unless the killer made notes or admits to his motivations.

So what about the claim that this was the only local theater banning legal carry of guns? Are the facts given in these articles accurate?

  • The people writing these pieces absolutely don't know the gunman's intentions, and are speculating; they tacitly admit that through frequent use of the word 'presumably'. Unless the gunman explains himself there is no way to check this out. – DJClayworth Jan 18 '13 at 13:57
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    I thought that "motivation" questions are off-topic (at least they were a year ago)? As @DJClayworth says, you either accept a 100% clear logic (if I want to shoot up a movie theater, I will make a very rational choice of one where I'm at the least risk of being shot back at - which is a sound logic conclusion but not provable or disprovable beyond the facts cited in the question), or you start guessing at never-stated-shooters' intentions with no proof at all. – user5341 Jan 18 '13 at 16:46
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    How about focusing the question on the claim that this was the only local theater with a "gun free zone"? That way the question is answerable. Otherwise I agree with DVK and it's offtopic. – Christian Jan 20 '13 at 15:41
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    If he'd choose that cinema because "gun free", why did he bother with the body armor? – vartec Jan 21 '13 at 9:55
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    A simple rule of thumb - if they cite Lott on a gun issue, it's probably false. – PoloHoleSet Oct 3 '17 at 21:40
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You might think that it was the one closest to the killer’s apartment. Or, that it was the one with the largest audience. Yet, neither explanation is right.

According to Wikipedia the shooter lived on Paris Street.

According to this Google Maps search the theatre is 10 minutes drive from Paris Street.

According to this Google Maps search the only closer movie theatre is the "Cinema Grill", which doesn't appear to be a traditional theatre (http://www.cinemagrill.com/).

One might apply Occam's Razor to more complex explanations.

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