There are hard and easy questions being raised in court this week about what role the Aurora cinema played in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The questions are being posed to a jury during a civil lawsuit in Arapahoe County, alleging the theater company was in part responsible for the massacre.

Did the Century 16 theater provide inadequate security for the public on July 20, 2012, when James Holmes opened fire in the theater, killing 12 and maiming another 70 people? That’s an easy one: Yes. The theater was negligent by its own accounts and more.

But would the theater have prevented Holmes from committing the sadistic mass killings by being less negligent about security that night?

That’s easy, too. The answer is no. And even if the theater had been more enterprising or driven in ensuring that hundreds of people in a dark theater were at least marginally protected from criminals intent on taking advantage of the realities of public cinema, the outcome could easily have been the same.

But the most important question is the hardest: Should we prepare every public place as potential targets for mass murder?

Instinctually, I would joining most people by saying, “absolutely.” But it would be impossible.

What 28 victims and their families are claiming in court this week — in what’s the first of many civil lawsuits to come from the massacre — is that the packed theater on opening night of “The Dark Knight Rises” should have had armed guards on site. Victims and families say the theater should have had an alarm system alerting someone that the theater’s emergency exit had been opened. Survivors and victims’ families contend that if more security were on site, and if employees had been vigilant and known that someone had entered the theater through the exit door, tragedy could have been minimized or prevented altogether.

During the exhaustive criminal trial last year, prosecutors revealed that the Aurora Century 16 normally hired off-duty Aurora police officers weekend nights to wander around the theater complex. There were no guards on duty the night of the massacre, even though the venue was packed for the premiere. During the 2015 trial, prosecutors revealed that Holmes entered the theater with other patrons, then slipped out through an emergency exit in Theater 9, propped open the door, dressed himself in full body armor and equipped himself with a veritable arsenal before sneaking back inside and beginning his attack.

So here’s why Cinemark was negligent. They clearly see the need for armed off-duty police when the theater is busy, but for some reason overlooked or purposely declined to hire that help on what was a night as busy as any given weekend. The most obvious aspect of their negligence is ignoring the very nature of their business. They routinely pack hundreds of people in a space that’s difficult to move around in with very few places to exit, turn off the lights, turn up the sound and essentially ignore patrons for a couple of hours. The days of ushers patrolling the auditoriums on the lookout for miscreants are largely gone. Some projection rooms are even unmanned given new digital systems that automate the process. The mixture of crowd, venue and what goes on inside a cinema is such a natural recipe for disaster that special fire codes have been written specifically for these venues. Anything could have happened inside and those in charge wouldn’t have known what was going on for some time.

The theater was clearly negligent in not having alarms on the emergency door and not providing adequate security that night in the event of trouble.  But liable for the shooting? No.

During the trial it was clear that Holmes was methodical and driven to get inside that theater and kill people. Would cops out front have stopped him? No. No officer would have run inside that dark theater and started shooting. It was chaos. Would an alarm on the door have prevented Holmes from getting in? No. An employee rushing to investigate a door alarm could just have been Holmes’ first victim, and no one would have known while the movie ran. Holmes could have stowed enough firepower in a jacket or baggy pants to create just as much carnage and never gone near the exit door. Fixing Cinemark’s security lapses would not have prevented this disaster.

But almost four years later, could it happen again? Certainly. We would hope that movie theaters across the country have boosted security to at least make it less easy for terrorists or deranged murderers to use cinemas as a place to carry out their grotesque plans. But even if every theater now has alarms, cameras and someone watching them, we are still at risk.

Unless Americans are willing to spend much more money on a night at the movies and spend far more time getting in and out of the show, the risk will remain.

The hardest question will be, what do we do now?

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