Expanded from a comment I made on someone else’s locked LJ post.

In the commentary I’ve seen on the shootings in the Aurora, CO theater, some people keep saying things like “Too bad no one else in that theater had a gun, or they could have taken that shooter down.” I keep wondering why everyone is so utterly sure about that. It seems utterly possible to me that someone there did have a gun,a nd was smart enough to keep it holstered.

For starters, the shooter wore Kevlar. But let’s ignore that for the moment, because I think it might not have been all that visible in a dark theater. The shooter had four guns, three of which worked, so that at first many people thought there were multiple attackers. He released tear gas, so most people there probably couldn’t see all that well. And once he let fly, people were panicking and running everywhere.

I submit that in that situation the smartest thing to do, for anyone carrying a concealed weapon was not to start shooting, unless they were able to get very close to the shooter. S/he’d have been more likely to add to the casualty list than to reduce it.

I further surmise that anyone with that level of discretion and judgement might well choose not to admit afterwards to having had a gun. There are an awful lot of people around with little grasp of nuance, and you just know a high percentage of the reactions would involve the entirely inaccurate word “coward”.

(Note: It’s also possible that someone in the theater had a gun and simply froze up and didn’t shoot – which is not unreasonable, because most people who haven’t been in combat aren’t going to have had a chance to get past their body’s normal startle reflexes. They’re not likely to admit it in public either.)