Shoot me first uniforms

Paul Barrett at Business Week has weighed in on the Aurora theater shooting. I was pleased with what I didn’t see but expected. In the past and as recently as last Friday he as pushed for a 10 round maximum on magazine capacity. This is despite me showing him a video of me shooting 35 rounds in less that 16 seconds with 10 round magazines.

In his most recent editorial he suggests something else:

If you really want to stop mass shootings in public places, demand that owners of movie theaters, supermarkets, playgrounds, and you-name-the-venue hire armed security guards to keep watch for people dressed in body armor and carrying weapons. We know how to do this. We do it at airports. It’s not foolproof: Remember the would-be underwear bomber and the shoe bomber, stopped not by X-ray machines but by their own incompetence and alert fellow passengers? Still, rent-a-cops are a step toward greater security. Heck, every major professional sports venue checks fans for outside alcohol and weapons. Why couldn’t every movie theater?

If there had been a guard at every door of the multiplex in Aurora, the killer would not have been able to stroll out and back in through the emergency exit. This mass killing would not have taken place.

Barrett is a smart guy and acknowledges it’s not foolproof. Obviously the security guards are wearing “shoot me first uniforms”. There is a reason Air Marshals are always in plain clothes. But this obvious loophole in the idea is not the biggest problem. The problem is economics. Since Occupy Wall Street did their thing last fall with ground zero Seattle being across the street from where I work the sidewalks and lobbies of many of building have unarmed security guards. What does it cost for one security guard per year? I can’t imagine that after all the overhead it would be less that $50K/year. Add training and equipping guards and insurance for what probably would be higher risks would probably add another $5K per year.

Does anyone think every playground, market, and theater is going to be able to afford that?

But the suggestion is a step in the right direction. If people accept the concept it’s a smaller step to accept “volunteer” security guards wearing plain clothes. Signs stating “Concealed Carry Welcomed Here” and discounts for people open carrying might be a bigger deterrent than the unaffordable, easily defeated, uniformed security guards.

9 thoughts on “Shoot me first uniforms

  1. Nut-jobs will apply for the job for the easy access to a gun, authority to bully people, and a target audience of victims. Murderers dressing up as guards is a common fiction troupe.

    Not to mention the leftists would push to unionize so many armed guards, with the result being low pay, no training (because training standards are unfair), and no accountability.

  2. I keep waiting for one of the victims of one of these atrocities to sue the venue for civil rights violation. “Prevent me from defending myself; suffer the consequences with me.” At the very least that theater should be paying for some funerals … and hospital bills … and physical therapy … and pain and suffering. But at max, SOMEbody should be paying for their crime under 18USC242. After all, it IS a Federal capital crime to deny someone’s free exercise of civil rights and for that denial to result in death.


  3. I say that his fantasy of having armed guards, and what amount to checkpoints, everywhere is overriding his brain in this case. At least he does acknowledge the utility of arms for defense, even if he didn’t mean to let that slip out.

  4. Lyle, I think he’s onto something, but not in the direction he’s taking it.

    I’d be perfectly happy to require every place that has a “gun free zone” sign to be subject to truth-in-advertising requirements. You (a hypothetical ‘you’ that operates a movie theater or other establishment open to the public) say this is a “gun free zone”? You better have taken positive steps to ensure that it is. That means metal detectors, body searches, bag searches, x-ray machines and people to man them and operate them. Every person and every object entering the “gun free zone” needs to be checked to make sure there are no guns smuggled in, or even gun parts that could be assembled later. There needs to be enough professional muscle on hand to hold the line to make sure someone doesn’t bull-charge their way through into the “sterile zone”.

    I don’t particularly care if that means your movie tickets now cost $250. The movie theatre across the street that doesn’t advertise itself as a gun free zone can show me the same movie for $20, with the understanding that there may be someone in the audience with a gun. In fact, I can guarantee that there will be, because I’ll be watching my movies there.

    All I want from government in this case is no mandates that a certain kind of place must be a gun free zone. It needs to be part of the economic trade offs. You can choose to go to the gun-free-zone movie theater, and pay for that guarantee, or you can go to the standard-risk movie theater.

  5. The theater in Aurora had hired security, but corporate policy dictated that they not carry firearms.

  6. Anon, then we have established that the theater had insufficiently invested in the level of service they were purporting to provide.

    An analogy: If your car had a faulty exhaust system, you’d take it to a mechanic. He’d fix it, return it to you and bill you the amount you’d expect for normal work on the exhaust system. What you don’t know is that this “mechanic” has only invested in a hammer, socket set and spools of duct tape. The car is “fixed”, for certain values of the word “fixed”. If you lend this car to your child for a long drive, but the “fix” comes lose, silently fills the passenger compartment with carbon monoxide, and your child loses consciousness and crashes into a tree, what is the appropriate response? You’d sue the ever-loving stuffing out of the mechanic and his insurer, and no reasonable person in the world would say that was unjustified. Most of the time, they got away with his over-sold level of service. This time, it had deadly consequences.

    That’s not to say that the movie murderer was some kind of impersonal force like a bad patch on an exhaust system. He has his own agency and is entirely culpable for all of his actions. But the move theater and their insurer are advertising a kind of service that does not exist in a normal public place, and should specifically address the kind of attack that he made. If they had provided the kind of service they were purporting to provide, he would have had to do his attack with something that would make it through the screening process. Then we could have a discussion about what the theater could do to stop an arson attack when the arsonist has epoxied the doors shut and disabled the sprinkler system, or something like that.

    That kind of service is expensive. It should be available to those that value that kind of service at a cost commensurate to the expense, provided by someone that wants to provide that service as a market differentiator, and they should expect to receive the service they have paid for. They should not be told they are getting that service at a low, low price, and then not actually get the service.

    I’ll be across town watching movies at the ‘standard public risk’ theater, packing my own heat. I don’t outsource the protection of my family and my person. For one thing, no provider exists that can provide equivalent service for a price less than the cost of a 1911, a holster, and a year’s worth of ammo and range time while assuming liability for failure-to-perform.

  7. Tirno, I agree: we should have a choice in what levels of security we get. I’d like to see an Airline that says “We don’t use metal detectors; just remember to have hollow-point ammo in your guns, because we don’t want self-defense rounds to go through the side of the aircraft!” and let people choose which level of security they want.

    I, for one, would willingly fly on the so-called “security-free” airline, that would likely make reasonable checks for explosives, but limits security to that. And God have mercy on the soul that attempts to hijack a plane flown by that airline!

    Of course, the chances of getting the .gov to go along with such a proposal is practically nil…they don’t want to admit that such an airline is going to be just as secure, if not more so, as the airlines that are forced to use TSA “services”.

  8. Ok, I just read the article, and some of the comments. I won’t try to comment on the article’s website itself, so I’ll just comment on some of my thoughts here.

    First, as I read the article, the words that kept coming through my mind was “Yes, but at what cost?” Security work, as I imagine it, is probably rather dull; how many people’s lives will be “ruined” by continual security guard work that will, by the admission of the author himself, be proven useless by the most determined among us? There is plenty of work to do, both interesting and dull, that can be done to the betterment of everyone around us, than security work!

    Indeed, if a potential medical doctor is talked out of advancing the state of knowledge in curing cancer, so that he could be a security guard, will that *really* result in a net gain of preservation of life?

    We can spend millions of dollars per vehicle to make them (almost) perfectly safe…yet we don’t have the resources to spend millions of dollars per vehicle. We need to make tradeoffs. At what point do we say, “We have spent enough; we now just have to accept the risk of death–after all, we will all die someday.”?

    Having said that, allowing guns in the theatre, and allowing security to be armed (assuming the guards have sufficient training in self defense, to avoid liability), are inexpensive, yet effective, ways of reducing the chance of death by something like this.

    Oh, and this notion that banning machine guns, and limiting magazine sizes, will prevent things like this from happening (as expressed by one of the commenters on that article, on that website), is also silly: California did both, but it didn’t prevent two bank robbers from acquiring *fully-automatic* AK-47s, and equipping them with 100-round drums of *steel-tipped* bullets, which resulted in the North Hollywood shootout.

    It’s amazing what people can do, when they find the motivation–for good AND for bad. And the frightening thing about the bad things, is there are things that can be done, for which about the only preparation we can make, is to be sure we have good health and life insurance, and make sure our finances are in order!

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