Last night's news brought horrifying flashbacks of the Aurora theater shooting.
A man in Lafayette, Louisiana opened fire in a crowded movie theater showing the Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck.
Two people were killed and nine others were injured before the thus-far-unidentified gunman took his own life.
Most reports immediately made the correlation between this terrible incident and last week's conviction of James Holmes, who killed twelve people and injured seventy more at the Aurora Century 16 theater in July 2012 during the midnight premiere of the movie The Dark Knight Rises.
Monday was the three-year anniversary of the tragedy.
Of the assorted TV news packages I caught last night and this morning, the ones that didn't include footage from Aurora, or shots of Holmes in the courtroom, tended to follow the news from Lafayette with updates about the ongoing penalty phase of the Holmes trial. Jurors are currently determining whether or not Holmes should receive the death penalty.
Media outlets shouldn't be castigated for such juxtapositions. They make perfect sense — and the latest crime suggests that movie theaters remain nearly as vulnerable today as they were just over three years ago.
Granted, the current shooter didn't get into the theater via a back door he'd rigged to allow access, as Holmes did. According to CNN, he was seated with other patrons and began shooting after the previews had screened.
However, he clearly didn't have the slightest problem bringing a weapon into the venue, the Grand Theater 16.
After Aurora, many, if not most, theaters, put stickers near entrances announcing that weapons were not permitted. If the Grand had one, it didn't prove to be an obstacle.
Otherwise, the main differences in security at most major cinema chains have been pre-feature warnings like the ones at AMC that urge customers to "report suspicious characters."
The Lafayette shooter is said to have been 58, with a criminal history — descriptions that hardly fit Holmes. And if his chosen target was a theater, his actions have just as much in common with other mass shootings, which, as NPR reported this morning, tend to happen about every two weeks in this country — so frequently that some of them don't even make national news.
Expect to hear gun-control advocates to cite the Louisiana shooting, even though the gunman didn't have the military-style arsenal Holmes had amassed. And also expect those who support the right to bear arms to push back, hard.
In the meantime, the question from the coverage that's resonated most with me thus far was one voiced by a young woman at the scene of the crime: "Why does this keep happening?"
Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of the victims in this latest tragedy.Michael Roberts.
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