UPDATED: How mass killers pick out venues where their victims are sitting ducks

Mar 28, 2023 | Gun Free Zones, Mass Public Shootings, Original Research

Updated March 28, 2023: You would think the empirical evidence would be overwhelming at some point. When the Aurora, Colorado Batman movie theater shooter attacked, seven movie theaters were showing “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20th within 20 minutes of the killer’s apartment at 1690 Paris St, Aurora, Colorado, but the killer picked the only theater that had signs posted that it was a gun-free zone. His first target had been an airport, but he worried about their “substantial security.” Similar stories have occurred at malls such as in Omaha and Salt Lake City or the Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater. Despite teachers carrying guns in schools in 20 states, all the shooting attacks at schools have occurred in schools that ban teachers from having guns.

Given that people are allowed to carry their permitted concealed handguns in the vast majority of public places, if these mass public shootings were random, 95% or higher of these attacks would take place in areas where permitted concealed handguns were allowed. Instead, the reverse is true, with 94% of those attacks taking place where general citizens are banned from having guns.

At some point, it would seem obvious that these attacks aren’t random. The links below provide some information that these mass public shooters do consider this information when engaging in their attacks. Dr. Lott’s book, The War on Guns, offers a more detailed discussion.

Original: Vince Vaughn explained what should be obvious to most people in an  interview in the UK edition of GQ:

It’s well known that the greatest defence against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.”

Media Matters then attacked Vaughn by pointing to a flawed report by Bloomberg’s Everytown, but of course, Media Matters doesn’t respond or even acknowledge all the errors that have been previously pointed out with Bloomberg’s report.  See also here.

Killers often openly talk about their desire to attack where no one is there with a gun to stop them.

UPDATE, ADDED EXAMPLE: In the planned Church attack in Detroit, the person planning the attack note one reason to picking his target:

Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church.” . . .

UPDATE, ADDED EXAMPLE: Regarding the Charleston Church shooting:

“I don’t think the church was his primary target because he told us he was going for the school,” Scriven said Friday. “But I think he couldn’t get into the school because of the security … so I think he just settled for the church.” . . .

The Covenant School shooting in Nashville (March 27, 2023).

“It was the only school that was targeted. There was another location that was mentioned, but because of a threat assessment by the suspect of too much security, they decided not to,” Drake [the police chief] said. “That area was here in Nashville, so we’re continuing with that investigation as well.”

Lydia Fielder and Tony Garcia, “Nashville school shooter purchased 7 guns, planned attack on multiple locations, police say,” WSMV, March 27, 2023.

On August 28, 2023, there was another attempted attack at a local historically Black college, Edward Waters University. After students alerted a security guard to the stranger on campus, the attacker was chased from the school. We have put together a long list of mass murderers who have clearly picked targets where victims are defenseless. Florida is a state that won’t allow civilians to carry on college campuses.

The president of a historically Black college in Jacksonville said Monday that he is convinced a group of students and a security officer thwarted a potential campus massacre by the same gunman who is alleged to have killed three people in a racially motivated attack at a Dollar General store near the school.

Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., president and CEO of Edward Waters University in the New Town neighborhood of Jacksonville, called Lt. Antonio Bailey a “hero” for confronting the alleged gunman and chasing him off campus after a group of students flagged him down and informed him about the “unwelcomed and unauthorized intruder on our campus.” . . .

Bill Hutchinson and Stephanie Wash, “Security guard details encounter with alleged Jacksonville gunman prior to racially motivated shooting,” ABC News, August 28, 2023.

In June 2014, Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in Santa Barbara, Calif., explained his own choice. In his 141-page “Manifesto,” Rodger turned down targets because he worried that someone with a gun would cut short his killing spree.

That same month, Justin Bourque shot to death three people in Canada. His Facebook page made fun of gun-free zones, with pictures of defenseless victims explaining to killers that they weren’t allowed to have their guns.

After we finally got a look at the diary of the Batman movie theater killer, James Holmes, it was clear that he was considering both attacking an airport and a movie theater.  But he turned down the airport option because he was concerned about their “substantial security.”  Beyond that, only one of the seven movie theaters near the killer’s apartment had posted signs banning permitted concealed handguns, and that was the theater that Holmes picked to attack.

In February 2016, there was another planned mass public shooting on one of the largest churches in the Detroit area that the FBI stopped.  Their recording of this individual’s phone calls is chilling: It’s easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news.

UPDATED, added example: The Buffalo mass murderer in 2022 wrote in his manifesto explaining why he picked the target that he did: “areas where CCW are outlawed or prohibited may be good areas of attack” and “areas with strict gun laws are also great places of attack.” Like other attackers, the Buffalo muderer cased the target before his attack.

Of course, there are numerous other examples, such as the Columbine killers opposing the concealed carry law that was then working its way through the state legislature.  The Majority leader of the state House at the time, Doug Dean, told John Lott that Klebold had written his state legislators opposing the legislation.  The bill would have allowed people to carry permitted concealed handguns on school property.  The killers timed their attack for the very day that the final passage of the law was planned for in the legislature.  (Dr. Lott had been brought into Colorado by Dean to talk to legislators the morning of the vote, and was flying back to Chicago when the attack occurred.)  Their attack derailed the passage for years, but few talk about their attack being timed for just hours before the final vote.

NYTimes on Keybold opposing Concealed Handgun Law

For those interested, here is a list of concealed handgun permit holders who have stopped mass public shootings.  This is not the first time that Vaughn has made comments on guns, though it is probably the most forceful that he has been on the topic. Here is his interview from earlier in the year for Playboy.

Others who were stopped were found to be targeting a gun-free zone.

“As of today I have officially began planning my attack. It is going to take place in 2023 in the state of New Jersey, I have not chosen a exact date but I am going to be sure it is close to an important holiday to their race. I have a location in mind already which I have frequented for the past year and I am certain nobody there is armed to be able to stop me from spraying them to the ground. I have already acquired 2 of the 4 firearms I plan to use for my attack, and I also know my entry and exit points already after the mayhem,” the post continued.

Lawrence Richard, “New Jersey Marine arrested after alledgedly making threats to kill White people, ‘began planning’ mass shooting,” Fox News May 14, 2024.


Do you own a gun?
I do, yeah. I believe in the right to defend yourself if need be. Hopefully you’re never in that situation, but I think you’re fairly naive to believe there will never be a cause for self-defense. But again, I believe it’s up to the individual. I don’t believe rights come in groups. You shouldn’t get more or fewer rights because of what you believe in or what nationality you were born into.



1 Comment

  1. Rick Warren

    Terrorist’s and unfortunately psychos tend to think more like military personnel than ordinary people. I was Marine Infantryman so I know. You pick targets based on weakness and the potential worth to you (potential to generate terror, fame or chaos if you are a terrorist or psycho). The most appealing target is the weakest one that has the highest potential worth to you. The risk to reward ratio is in your favor. The worst target is the strongest because the risk to reward ratio is against you. If your a nut job or terrorist, it does you no good if you get killed as soon as you pull your weapon out. You have to be able to kill people before you get killed. That is why they attack gun free zones! Don’t just accept what liberals tell you, use the brain God gave to you to think logically about it. If you can be honest with yourself, you will see that the Bloomberg arguments are flawed.


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