About 90 minutes into a Monday night showing of "Batman" in Santa Monica, Calif., a commotion caused some girls to shriek and two dozen people to sprint for the exit, jumping over seats and pushing each other out of the way. It turned out that a large man with a backpack was actually not a threat and was simply having a medical problem.
"This was nothing, and yet it startled us and rattled us so much," said moviegoer Paria Sadighi.
Nationally, the shootings have triggered a fierce debate over gun control and whether government has a role in reining in the ownership of firearms.
Gun sales often fluctuate based on news events, especially whenever people think the passage of more restrictive gun laws is imminent. Sales spiked following the election of President Barack Obama, when weapons enthusiasts expressed fear that the Democrat might curtail gun rights. FBI figures also show background checks for handgun sales jumped in Arizona following the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.
"It's not uncommon for us to see spikes in requests for concealed pistol licenses when there's a significant gun-related tragedy," said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County sheriff's office in Washington state.
Some Democratic lawmakers in Congress cited the shooting as evidence of the need for tougher gun control laws — particularly a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Congress, however, hasn't passed strict legislation in more than a decade.
Associated Press writer Mike Baker can be reached on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/HiPpEV
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