When you head out to catch a movie at your local Regal theater this weekend, and for the foreseeable future, you can expect the possibility of having your bag searched. In response to recent incidents involving mentally unstable individuals bringing guns to movie theaters for the purpose of violence, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to make sure that their employees and guests who are otherwise abiding by the theater’s policies aren’t also toting weapons into the building.
While the policy update says that bags are now subject to inspection prior to admission, there’s no clear follow-up as to what is or is not allowed (say, a Glock .45 with a high-capacity magazine vs. a super-sized box of Sno-Caps purchased at your local supermarket), or what they’ll do when they find it, ie confiscate your candy so that theater employees can eat it while you pay a 300% mark-up at the register, or toss your gun in a TSA-style “Lost and Found” bin.
Here’s the relevant section of Regal Entertainment Group’s updated Admittance Procedures:
Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.
Let’s be honest, Regal’s change in their admittance policy is more about protecting themselves from financial loss due to outside confections and security-oriented lawsuits than it is about theater safety. If someone really wants to commit mass violence at a theater, a teenager wearing a vest and wielding a flashlight is not going to deter them.
Movie theater violence has been increasing in frequency in the last decade or so, but there have been incidences as far back as at least 1979, as this retrospective by The Wrap notes. And though Regal Entertainment Group is doing what it thinks is best for its own policy, it’s clear that America has a much bigger problem with mass shootings than just those confined to movie theaters; take a look at Mother Jones timeline of violence from 1982 to 2012. It’s unfortunate that this list is so out of date, but it feels like it’s impossible to keep up with the spate of violence that’s happening all too often. It’s a classic example of the question of Freedom vs. Security and how much of each you’re willing to sacrifice in order to accommodate the other. And if you’re more upset over movie theaters searching bags than you are at similar policies at our schools, religious institutions, government buildings, and transportation hubs, you can kindly let us know in the comments below.