Colorado man arrested for openly carrying gun in movie theater

Carrying a gun into a theater doesn't exactly put fellow moviegoers at ease, especially if it comes on the heels of a shooting tragedy in the same vicinity. On Sunday night, Thorton, Colo., police arrested James G. Mapes for openly carrying a holstered firearm into a movie theater, according to the Denver Post. The Thornton theater where the arrest took place is only 25 minutes away from the Aurora theater where James Holmes went on a shooting spree killing 12 people and injuring 58; both cinemas are situated in the Denver metropolitan area.

Fifteen minutes into a showing of "The Watch," a movie in which four suburban guys band together to form a neighborhood watch group and save the world from aliens, Mapes recalled that a woman sitting by him "took a cell phone call and then said aloud that someone in the movie complex was seen carrying a gun." Mapes stood up, walked to the lobby, and raised his hands. Police confiscated the weapon and arrested him.

Section 38-237(b)(1) of Thornton's Municipal Code, under which Mapes was booked, reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly possess on or about the person or within such person's immediate reach any dangerous weapon."

Mapes has lived in the area for nine years and said that he's seen movies in the theater before when he's carried a handgun both concealed and openly visible. He is simply practicing the right to bear arms, he said. He added that he has held a concealed carry permit issued by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office since 2003, although the Thornton movie theater doesn't reside in Arapahoe County, so the permit doesn't help his case. Thornton is an open-carry municipality, meaning that there are specific exceptions to the above section of the Municipal Code. In certain limited instances, such as a "person's own dwelling or place of business," a person can lawfully carry a weapon so long as it is visible. Arapahoe County, on the other hand, more permissively allows for concealed carry.

"I've had no problems in the past," he told the Post.

When Yahoo! News reached Mapes by phone for comment, Mapes demurred, explaining that he and his attorney needed to confer further on statements to the media.