One of the many debates that the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo., has opened up is the debate over the rights of people to carry guns. Especially concealed weapons.
The Century 16 theater in Aurora does not allow patrons to carry weapons into the theater, even if they are legally allowed to carry it. But if they did, could this tragedy have been averted, or at least lower the number of casualties? "Jason," a former movie theater manager who asked not to use his real name, tells Alpha Waves Radio that yes, it could have made a difference.
"Business should just allow for concealed carry in their establishment," Jason said. "It may not have necessarily stopped something like this, but it may have slowed him down or made him think twice if there happened to be one or two people in there to attempt to fight back or defend people."
Yet, that creates a scenario in some people's minds that could end up worse off than what happened when a gunman entered Auditorium 9 last week and started firing weapons. Could a shootout, involving average every-day people with guns, have helped or hurt such a situation?
Jason says such concerns are media-created, and don't reflect what would actually happen.
"People that have their guns really are going to be responsible," he said. "They have been trained to not shoot out in public and in the open. The criminals are going to have their weapons, whether they are allowed to or not."
It would seem that the best way to prevent such a thing from happening in the future would be to increase security, and increase training of employees in how to handle such things (and maybe prevent it in the first place). But then again, theaters may not be willing to do that, since they already operate on tight budgets. In fact, Jason doesn't expect to see any theaters even invest in devices like metal detectors.
"They run their staff according to the volume and specific hour-by-hour," Jason said. "They won't even have more staff than they have to have, so the odds of them spending money on that kind of equipment" is nonexistent. In fact, the theaters "will use the same Band-Aid measures that they always do, and people will forget about it, and they will go back to their normal ways of doing things."
It's really the kind of discussion that would only really take place in the United States, it seems. It's a country that was born out of violence and has prospered in some ways because of its ability to direct violence at its enemies. Carlos Pedraza, a scribe who recently wrote the independent film "Judas Kiss" and who has also taught social studies in classrooms, says violence is part of this country's DNA.
However, that doesn't mean that the types of movies or television shows we watch are having that much of an effect on what we might go out and do.
"You can reasonably argue that over the past 30 to 40 years, we have gotten more violence [in films] and their depictions of violence have become more graphic," Pedraza said. "If that link were true, you would see a commensurate increase in gun ownership and gun violence and violent crime in the United States.
"But, in fact, we find the opposite is true. Violence crime is at its lowest level since 1972. Gun ownership is actually trending downward continually over the last 30 years."
While some people with a propensity toward aggressive behavior could be directly affected by their exposure to violence in film and television, it doesn't necessarily translate into crime, Pedraza said. But that still doesn't absolve filmmakers from being more responsible in how they portray violence in their work.
"As an artist, as a writer, as a filmmaker, I do have concerns about the way violence can be glorified in film and how that affects the way people ... whether we are a coarser society because of it," he said. And even if violence is sort of in-born in American society, "that doesn't mean that it is our destiny. There are things we can do to be more responsible about how we portray such things in film and television."
When all the dust settles, one of the biggest questions will come on how we should treat the accused shooter. One person who was in the theater (but not shot) told "Good Morning America" that people should forgive the shooter.
And while forgiveness is good, it could also work here because forgiveness does not always translate into absolution, said the Rev. Josh Hale, a Methodist minister out of Texas.
"Forgiveness actually takes the events that occurred, whether it's a tragedy like this shooting in Aurora or another event, and it says that this is something that needs to be addressed with the utmost seriousness," Hale said. "Instead of addressing it punitively and speaking of punishment for somebody who has done something wrong, it tries to open the door. And in some places, that might just be cracking it open ever so slightly."
In fact, while forgiveness should not replace punishment, it's meant more to help the person doing the forgiving, then the person who is being forgiven.
It creates a "positive sense of justice," Hale said, "rather than just pouncing on somebody who just did something wrong."
Jason, Pedraza and Rev. Hale (along with Airlock Alpha writer Robert Yaniz Jr.) share much more in a special edition of Alpha Waves Radio addressing the tragedy. See what else they have to say by listening to the whole show for free right here.
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