Colorado theater chose to prohibit concealed carry

by NW Spotlight

Century Theaters created a pretend gun-free zone

In the wake of the 1999 Columbine murders, Colorado passed eight specific gun-law reforms: three “gun control,” and five “gun rights”. Writing this week in National Review, Dave Kopel noted “[The gun-law reforms] are all based on the same principles: Guns in the wrong hands are very dangerous, and guns in the right hands protect public safety.”

Kopel writes that the most important of the reforms was Colorado’s 2003 Concealed Carry Act, which has already thwarted at least one massacre in December 2007. A man murdered two teenagers at a church training center, drove to a church in another location where he killed two people in the parking lot, and then entered the church carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Inside, the attacker was quickly shot by a volunteer female security guard carrying a licensed handgun. The pastor estimated the female security guard’s actions saved over 100 lives.

Kopel then goes on to describe how Colorado law forces the government to make good on promises of “gun-free zones” if they prohibit concealed carry in a building, but protects the property rights of business owners and allows them to prohibit concealed carry on their property. Unlike the government, businesses are not required to actually make their premises “gun-free” when they prohibit concealed carry. Century Theaters was one of very few Colorado businesses to prohibit concealed carry, and they did nothing to actually make their premises “gun-free”.

“Colorado law allows government buildings to be declared ‘gun-free zones,’ but Colorado law insists that when a government promises a gun-free zone, the government must keep the promise: Licensed carry may be forbidden in a government building only if all entrances to the building are controlled, and if the public entrances have metal detectors manned by armed guards. Under Colorado law, therefore, government entities may not simply post a no guns sign and leave law-abiding, licensed citizens defenseless against violent criminals.”

“The Concealed Carry Act did not disturb the property rights of business owners — if they wish to, they may prohibit concealed carry on their business premises. Fortunately, very few Colorado businesses have done so. But one that did was Century Theaters. Compounding the problem, Century Theaters did not create an actual ‘gun-free zone’ (as some government buildings in Colorado have). Instead, Century Theaters created a pretend gun-free zone. Century Theaters did nothing to prevent armed criminals from entering the theater.”

“As is common in mass homicides, the killer in this case chose to target victims in a ‘gun-free’ zone — with predictable and horrific results. When armed police finally confronted him, he surrendered quickly. This, too, is common; mass killers tend to be cowards who crumble at the first resistance.”


Notes on 1999 Columbine murders of 12 students and one teacher:

  • A concerned parent had notified the sheriff’s office more than a year in advance, and the sheriff’s office had detailed information on one of the Columbine killers (including lists of targeted victims, a count of guns acquired, status of bombs built, etc.) well in advance of the attack, but did nothing – something which the sheriff’s office later tried to cover up. (additional information in 2001 and 2004 articles)
  • “The [attackers] hoped that after setting off home-made explosives in the cafeteria at the busiest time of day, killing many hundreds of students, they would use their guns to shoot survivors as they fled from the school. Then, as police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and reporters came to the school, bombs set in the [attackers’] cars would detonate, killing the emergency personnel, media, and law enforcement officers; this original plan backfired when the explosives did not detonate.”
  • “Using instructions acquired upon the Internet, the attackers constructed a total of 99 [bombs].”
  • “The perpetrators committed numerous felony violations of state and federal law, including the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968, even before the massacre began.”

UPDATE: 9/10/2012 article by John Lott – Did Colorado shooter single out Cinemark theater because it banned guns?