Kobayashi Maru

Given the amount of time I’ve spent in a car between Friday evening and this morning, I’ve been following along with Twitter discussion about the Aurora mass killing. The truth is that both sides like to present simplistic rhetoric. On our side, you still see plenty of “If only one of the theater goers was armed, this would have been prevented!”

I’ve been reading about how elaborately his guy planned, and I have to say, this looks an awful lot like a Kobayashi Maru scenario to me. How often to you practice shooting in a dark theater filled with tear gas? This isn’t to say that I want some pant wetter from the Brady crowd telling me I can’t carry a gun, because I’ll take my odds with a gun as opposed to without, but I’m afraid I rank this scenario up there with hearing your door break down, grabbing your defensive firearm, only to find yourself pointing a gun at a SWAT team that got the wrong address. I support your right to be armed, but I wouldn’t bet on your coming out of that scenario unscathed.

A gun only improves the odds. It doesn’t guarantee victory. Society is always going to be vulnerable to paranoid schizophrenics who are high functioning enough to plan, and intelligent enough to plan well. As Joe Huffman points out, it could have been much much worse. You could double or triple the number of people carrying firearms, and that’s not going to change.

43 thoughts on “Kobayashi Maru”

  1. still, an active shooter with no opposition will be more effective than one who’s getting return fire. I imagine that getting hit in the chest or head, even wearing armor is going to rattle you enough to put you your game.

    1. Like I said, I think it improves the odds. But from what I’ve read, this guy was pretty quick to zero in and fire on movement. I’m not giving myself great odds that I don’t take fire and hits while I’m figuring out he’s armored. That even assuming I can return fire through the tear gas.

      1. As I think I said earlier, the best one can reasonably hope for is that while he’s engaging me, he’s not monitoring the theater exits so closely and it might let some others get out. Also, by all reports he wasn’t suicidal, and I might be able to force him to duck.

        1. Good point, when the PD showed up he gave up without incident. Be curious if he was out of ammo, or if he was hoping for the text-book 4 min response time and had other plans that were foiled by people he KNEW could shoot through his armor with their rifles.

          Don’t know the threat level of his armor (but any vest can be penetrated by dumb luck) but likely that big lens in the front of his gas mask was vulnerable to a round.

          He certainly didn’t appear to want to die, so how WOULD it change his course of action if he started taking fire.

          Even if a round doesn’t penetrate the vest, It can’t feel good to eat a round from a solid hit, and it may feel worse than it is.

  2. Also the theater was a victim disarmament zone, nobody who abides by the rules would have been armed. Personally I ignore that crap and carry anyway, a sign does not have force of law, and my CCW is issued by the commonwealth of PA, it should be good anywhere within that state as far as I’m concerned.
    One advantage to being 6 foot and 375 pounds, I can hide a 1911 VERY well.

    1. I just don’t go to theaters anymore. No one jabbering or texting if I watch a movie at home.

    2. CO doesn’t have binding signage. I go to posted places here in Massachusetts whenever I want to go there. Unless its someplace like a post office or a public school, the only thing they can do is ask me to leave.

      If you don’t OC the chances of them even KNOWING is small, and if that happens I’ll go without protest.

  3. Handgun against dark clothed target, in a dark theatre, with airborne particulate irritants to both reduce your functionality and trace lasers back to you? That’s a pretty heavily stacked deck against a hypothetical DG user, even without body armor on the bad guy. Plus, he’s got a low-recoil rifle.

    That’s not someplace I want to be, armed or unarmed.

    Side note – how “hard” is the intel that he was wearing body armor? I can go down the road to the local airsoft store and buy up enough black ballistic nylon gear to equip a platoon, and I don’t necessarily trust the media to be able to tell the difference between ballistic nylon vest and ballistic vest… OTOH, he had a gas mask and tear gas.

      1. The thick part of the vest is of about the right height for concealable soft body armor. He wouldn’t have gotten it and other items from Tactical.com for $300, though, that’s too low. I also just checked their site, and all they sell at the moment in actual armor is Blackhawk hard plates. In theory only law enforcement etc. but perhaps he tricked them, and maybe the press reported dollar figure is incorrect and the owner is being a bit disingenuous.

        If he only had front or front and back hard plates he would have been a lot more vulnerable to handgun fire from armed citizens than we’ve been thinking, since their coverage is so small.

        Well, we need more hard info and we’ll no doubt be getting it. Note also the AP report that his rifle jammed; not sure if I believe that since in a picture in the article it was found right outside an exit door. I.e. why wouldn’t he have dropped it in the theater? I also note it has a regular magazine in that picture.

  4. Well, this is definitely a barroom debate, but I think it goes back to the thought process you need to go through when you’re thinking of carrying concealed. Can you feel around under a railing for a small object in a public park surrounded by hundreds of people, with even your partner not noticing you’re doing anything? Then you may be in good shape even in a scenario like the batman shooting.

    On the other hand, if you’re going to be obviously fumbling for a gun and drawing attention to yourself, then maybe you’re better off saving yourself a couple pounds of weight when it’s time to run. And there’s no shame in that. Self-awareness is a survival skill.

  5. What everyone is forgetting is that active shooters typically self-terminate or quit when FIRST confronted with force. This guy looks to have been in that latter mold as he gave up as soon as law enforcement found him outside the theater.

    Translated, that means that if ONE person had been carrying there is a VERY good chance the shooter would have either given up or tucked tail to run as soon as he took fire.

    So, YES, if ONLY ONE person had of had a gun…

    I just happen to be attending a Dept of Ed/US Secret Service seminar on this topic on Monday. I’ll see if the above is still accepted wisdom regarding active shooters.

    1. I think that depends on the shooter. The paranoid schizophrenics don’t seem to be the self-terminating types. This guy wore body armor. His intention was to kill and not be interrupted in his killing.

      1. But he still stopped at force. Maybe that was his intention, but getting hit by a bullet even in body armor might make him change his mind pretty quick.

        You said it early, carrying a gun doesn’t guarantee victory, but it sure helps.

    2. He appears to be living out the scenes of a previous Batman movie, where the Joker was captured and jailed by the police. Shooting everyone was part of one scene; being “The Joker” in jail was another.

      Of course this info/concept is as warped as the media and subject to Brian Ross Syndrome (making shit up as you go along). So who can say for sure.

      But it looks like the shooter had this all worked out, and being jailed was part of the plan. I don’t remember much of that movie, but he probably expects his gang to break him out momentarily.

      Society knows who these people are. We just don’t do anything about it. Maybe this time we’ll talk about the schizophrenic members of our society ignored by the law and medical establishment, instead of the Denver Bass Pro Shop where he bought a gun.

      Nah. Who are we kidding?

  6. This man planned for armed citizens. He came in wearing dark clothe and body armor. He threw two tear gas cannisters and waited for them to work. He had gas mask. Any CCW holder would have been shooting in the dark with his eyes streaming and unable to see well at an armor shooter. Plus the chaos of people running. A rare person would take a shot without a clear shot.

    1. Guns don’t help all the time, and I cannot imagine myself in a Stadium Theatre-style movie house, in the dark with tear gas flowing, people running and screaming, with an active shooter wearing body armor and effectively using a semi-auto rifle…and being able to do shit. Not with any caliber.

      Yes, I’d take the shot. I’d run from the family and as many people as I could and take the shot. But honestly, I wouldn’t be able to run. I’d have to do it from center-row, next to the wife. That means his target becomes me and anyone I am near. Even assuming I could see him, it’d be a rare chance to do anything of value.

      This was an exceptional circumstance. It wasn’t a goblin on the street willing to trade my life for my wallet. This guy was about as prepared as you could get, short of having extra shooters. We’ll learn more over time, but it honestly looks like the worst of scenarios.

      I had to look up the reference in Sebastian’s post, but it seems quite fitting. Sometimes you are just fucked and there is nothing you can do about it.

  7. JustOneMinute blog posted the question,

    Is it fair to assume that given the noise, confusion, tear gas and level of preparation of this shooter that a concealed carrier would have had to perform a miracle to avert or mitigate this?

    To “avert” would take a miracle. Even for the authorities to avert it would take a “miracle”.

    To mitigate?

    Everyone in that theatre was under the same environmental conditions as the attacker. All it would take to “mitigate” would be for one,two, three (?) to fight back. No concealed carry required.

    1. Yes. Horrible conditions for a shootout, for the good guy anyway; but if those closest to him, at any time during the assault but especially at it’s onset, had bum rushed that f**ker and treated him harshly there would have been fewer, possibly many fewer, casualties.

      But America is not populated with Zulu warriors. If only one charges forward while others cower or flee his chances are forlorn indeed. Alone, unless I were unscathed and very close, I would not dare, for I hold no faith in the courage of strangers.

      How do we train, or even encourage American society to attack the lone gunman en mass?

      1. How do we train, or even encourage American society to attack the lone gunman en mass?

        Let’s Roll?

    2. Like the passengers on 9/11, I think. We’ll probably see stories of movie patrons beating down scary people in the near future. How many of the “scary people” will turn out to be law-abiding gun carriers who got caught printing is going to be the question.

      1. It’s an idea. Consider. though, what the passengers on United flight 93 had which the Aurora movie patrons did not. The passengers had a window of opportunity in which to gain some information, talk to each other, form a plan and work their plan- all of which serves as a potent antidote to panic; all of which the patrons at AMC had none of. Sometimes something like what we are discussing happens, like in a parking lot in AZ last year, and sometimes it does not.

        Well, Patrick, we will see if you are right. I expect it will be interesting. The next person to put on an unexpected “floor show” in the middle of a showing may be in for a rough surprise at any rate!

  8. Armed civilians returning fire is better than armed civilians praying for a meteor strike, but the core problem of psychotic people not being hospitalized when first identified as problematic needs to be addressed. NOW.

  9. If I die I die. But I am not going to hide under a bunch of bodies to save myself. Already as a civilian put myself between a gun and the innocent. Why not do it again.

  10. Fun question: how does a man receiving unemployment benefits acquire $20,000 worth of military-grade armor and weapons, in a span of 60 days? That’s just what was on his person / in his car (i.e. not counting the bombs, etc in his apartment).

    Further down the rabbit hole: is it just a coincidence the United Nations is voting on / editing its Small Arms Treaty in the next short while?

  11. I have seldom been prouder of myself than I am for not knowing what Kobayashi Maru referred to. :-)

      1. I’m just kidding for course; ignorance is never a virtue, and some of the most interesting concepts I’ve encountered have come from fiction.

        However — I was just slightly too old when Star Trek came along, to get into it, and it does have that “major nerd” stereotype attached. That is not intended as an insult to anyone; just a statement of generational fact, of the kind we’re all stuck with, now and then.

  12. “How often to you practice shooting in a dark theater filled with tear gas? ”

    I am a combat veteran, Iraq ’03 and a retired 30 year LEO. So, I have actually trained in such conditions. My response to that statement, taken as it is, would be, How many people in that theater HAVE had some training and exposure to that sort of situation?

    Not trying to knock what you said, just interested in why no one attacked him in any way. Answer is we have turned a majority of our citizens into panty-waisted slaves waiting for someone else to fix everything.


    1. panty-waisted?

      The term is “panty waste”. It provokes a much different image. Are not allowed to use that spelling?

      As for night live fire exercises, most Army installations have (or are getting) indoor ranges to increase range time without having to go out at ‘o dark thirty.

      1. Original usage “panty-waisted” meaning wussyfied, like in “pull up your big girl panties” to someone who is always complaining.

        I may just be a civilian and do NOT have that training, but if there is no one between me and him I am planning on emptying my pistol and paying the consequences.

        1. I mention my training and such since that may have an effect on how I think. However, you have confirmed that you would also think the same way without the training.

          As for “panty-waisted” you have the meaning as I intended, thank you.

          1. I may not be officially trained but i credit the Boy Scouts, Zane Grey and Louie L’Amour,the law of the sea, my dad and the Holy Bible in influencing the way I would react.

      2. Panty-waists were a garment with the shirt or jacket buttoned to the pants, worn only by young boys and not man clothes. Thus leading to the slang usage SBeck is using.

        Though I agree, panty-wasting does have more of a shit oneself imagery. Or something they would say on Sex and the City…

      3. Learn something every day… always used ‘waste’ and had it explained that way.

        All said and done I’d rather be a garment than a mix of a skid-mark and snail-trail.

  13. Your scenario of grabbing a defensive firearm and finding yourself looking at a SWAT team is a very real scenario, and the unfortunate answer is that it’s a lose-lose for you.

    If you’re lucky, you’ll accidentally shoot a cop, and go to jail for the rest of your life. Let me repeat that. IF YOU ARE LUCKY, you will accidentally shoot a cop and go to jail for the rest of your life.

    The more likely scenario is you’ll be dead before you realize they were police, and before they realize they got the wrong house.

    Either way, they’ll plant some pot somewhere and blame it on you.

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