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July 24, 2012

Was the Aurora Shooter Really Wearing Body Armor?

From the first reporting of the incident up through the present, we've heard that the person who attacked the Dark Knight Rises audience in Colorado last week was wearing "body armor". A sampling:

* USA Today: He was dressed head-to-toe in black bullet-proof gear, including helmet, vest, leggings and a groin and throat protector.

* HuffPo: [Aurora Police Chief Dan] Oates confirmed that the suspected shooter was ***, who entered the theater during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" dressed in all black and with heavy body armor.

* And this breathless piece in Amateur Webzine Slate: Armored and Dangerous, The scariest innovation in the Aurora mass shooting isn’t guns or ammo. It’s SWAT gear.

But is this true?

Here's a pdf of a receipt for some of the equipment the shooter purchased. One of the items is called the "Blackhawk Urban Assault Vest". Here's what it looks like:

That's not a bulletproof vest. A clue can be found in the big green open spot in the middle of it. Some would call that "center mass".

Now it's possible the shooter wore that vest over a bulletproof vest, but following the trail of the reporting, it seems like there's also a decent probability that an initial erroneous report from the scene that either repeated eyewitness accounts of body armor or mistook the vest above to be bulletproof morphed into the account of the fully armored killing machine that the press is running with now. After all, they do have a history of being not even wrong where gun-related reporting is concerned. It will be interesting to see if the "facts" as we now know them change as more details are released.

Why is this important?

Back to Slate:

He was so well equipped that if anyone in that theater had tried what the National Rifle Association recommends—drawing a firearm to stop the carnage—that person would have been dead meat. Holmes didn’t just kill a dozen people. He killed the NRA’s answer to gun violence.

Ahh, so concealed carry is now inoperative because this guy upped the ante with body armor? Ummm ... no ... and there are several reasons why.

First, it's not like body armor is a new invention. As a matter of fact, its use played a significant part in one of the most infamous crimes in recent history, the "North Hollywood Shootout" in 1997. This incident didn't herald a wave of body-armored criminals roaming the streets, and there's no reason to think Aurora will either.

And the idea that the theatergoers were better off unarmed with a shooter who doesn't have body armor (the writer's default position) is just silly. It's undermined by the facts in front of us, where a dozen unarmed people were killed and scores more were wounded. The fact that they were unarmed rendered whatever body armor the shooter may have been wearing irrelevant.

But in the case where the assailant was indeed wearing body armor, the armed citizen still would have played an important role. Anyone with a CCW permit should expect that he will become the primary target in the unlikely and unfortunate instance that he ever has to draw his weapon. The idea that the assailant is going to just stand there and ignore incoming rounds bouncing off his body armor while he goes about his business like that scene in The Terminator where Arnie stalks Connor and Reese through the police station is just that ... pure Hollywood.

What's more likely (read damned near guaranteed) to happen is that the assailant will be forced to focus his attention on the "victim" that's unexpectedly shooting back at him and away from other potential targets. By choosing to voluntarily place himself at heightened risk, the armed citizen buys time for the unarmed to flee to safety.

And, finally, there's the head shot. If there's any lesson to take from this incident in regards to concealed carry, it's that a CCW holder can't spend too much time at the range.

Anti-gunners hate that their predictions of blood in the streets!!11! were belied as concealed carry became much more common in the last few decades while the rate of gun-related crimes steadily dropped. Why, it's almost like there's a relationship between the two or something.

They're now shamelessly using the shootings in Aurora to try to convince you that concealed carry is a bad thing. Don't believe them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been an NRA Member for decades. The NRA has chronicled instances of law-abiding citizens' use of firearms for self defense in a column in its publications titled The Armed Citizen for as long as I can remember.

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posted by Andy at 12:34 PM

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