In the wake of over a dozen murders at a movie theater in Colorado, film critic Roger Ebert rushed to decry America’s “insane” gun laws in a New York Times op-ed. Within the piece, he pooh-poohed concealed carry laws by noting that no one in the theater shot back at the gunman. But Ebert misses an important point. The Cinemark theater chain has a “gun-free zone” policy.
In the NYT, Ebert chided America for allowing gun ownership for the common man.
That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended. [emphasis added]
Of course, if Ebert had bothered to check before trying to use this murderous crime for his own anti-Second Amendment purposes, he may have found that no one could have shot back, because the theater chain does not allow its customers to carry guns in its theaters.
As it happens, the Century 16 theaters at 14300 E. Alameda Ave in Aurora, Colorado are owned by Cinemark Century Theaters, headquartered in Plano, Texas, and for several years this chain movie theater has told customers they are not welcome to bring their firearms into theaters.
Back in 2009, an Alaska-based member of a gun owner’s message board going by the handle SubNine reported that he tried to enter a Cinemark owned theater with his open carry weapon but was told he was not allowed to enter the premises armed because the chain had a no-weapons policy. It was a “gun-free zone,” he was told by the manager.
A year before the above post, another message board started a similar conversation. In 2008, the Open Carry forums also noted Cinemark’s “gun-free zone” policy. One message board member even communicated via email with a Dan Meyers at the corporate offices of Cinemark. That corporate official confirmed the restriction and added that only police officers could carry their concealed weapons into Cinemark theaters. He also asked gun owners not to bother complaining to them about the policy.
So, as Ebert scoffs that no one returned fire at this theater and assumed that it that would diminish the efficacy of concealed carry laws, he didn’t bother to find out if anyone was or even could be armed in that theater. Turns out they couldn’t, but Ebert tried to use this crime and its tragic consequences for his own political purposes anyway.