Seeking Death Penalty in Aurora Shootings Is a Mistake

On July 20, 2012, James Holmes entered a packed movie theatre in Aurora, CO during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Fully armed, Holmes arbitrarily fired at the crowd. When he was done, 12 people were dead and 58 were injured. The police arrested Holmes on the scene, still armed and dressed in his Joker costume. Thus, the fact Holmes committed the shootings isn’t seriously in doubt.

Can We Prevent More Newtowns?

Will any serious policy changes result from Friday’s massacre of 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.? If past history is any guide, the sad answer is probably not. Many experts who track the many issues involved conclude that American culture and laws are such that ultimately, such incidents cannot be prevented entirely. There will be serious discussions in the weeks ahead on issues such as school safety, mental health services, and gun policy, and improvements can be made in all three. Still, the long history of mass killings in the United States indicate that the nation has not seen the end of them.

Are Mass Killers “Crazy?”

Cases like the Colorado theater shooting, the Arizona Congresswoman shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the Columbine shooting inevitably result in my family, friends and acquaintances asking me variants of the same question: “He must be crazy, right?” Like my colleague, Dr. Anne Hanson, my practice is to respond, “Well, I haven't evaluated him, so I really don't know.” And, of course, neither can you. Nevertheless, there is much speculation, even on this site, as to the potential for an insanity defense when the alleged perpetrator of an horrific crime has survived to go to trial. So I thought I would take an opportunity to discuss the insanity defense, its variation from one jurisdiction to another, and its prevalence—or rather, its rarity.

Two Shooting Tragedies: Two Different Media Takes

On July 20 James Holmes entered a movie theatre in Aurora, CO, that was showing a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Using various weapons, Holmes fired at the crowd, ultimately killing 12 people and injuring 58 others before he was arrested. Just over two weeks later, on August 5, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran, entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI during services and fired a gun at the worshippers. He killed six people and injured three before turning the gun on himself. Two mass shootings in public places within a month.