Copycat Killers

The Dark Knight Rises came out this weekend.  There was some unfortunate news related to its nationwide premier, however.  I guess this will put to the test the adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  Of course, it would be public relations suicide for Warner Bros. to indicate the incident, and its subsequent coverage and tangential connection to their film, helped their sales in any way.

The incident has been met with the typical over-reactions from the public and its protectors.  Fueled by the media’s fears of copycat killers, theaters have been closely watched by police with renewed discussion about the kinds of additional security measures that should be put into place to keep the populace safe.

Are copycat killers all that common? Are there nutjobs out there with caches of weapons, no idea what to do with them who, who upon hearing about the Colorado shooting would jump up and go: “Eureka! That’s a GREAT idea!” Let’s look at the extensive history of copycat killers:

  1. Virginia Tech Massacre? No noted copycats. 
  2. The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords? No noted copycats. 
  3. The Beltway Snipers? No noted copycats.
  4. Columbine Highschool Massacre? Yes! A couple of kids in England attempted to recreate the event on its 10th anniversary.
So I suppose the police should step up their security at theaters in the summer of 2022.  Until then, expect the government to begin more closely monitoring the things you buy as people eagerly give up their privacy to protect themselves from the hordes of imagined threats that exist.
Additional Material
  1. 10 Deadliest U.S. Shootings at the Washington Post
  2. Twilight Language Blog, which details connections (plausible and implausible) between events.
  3. 10 Notable Copycat Killers at How Stuff Works, note how their examples of copycat killers often take place years after the initial event and even then are often more inspired by the source rather than a mimic of it. 

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