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Lawful? Colo. Man Arrested for Carrying Gun Into Theater -- But Claims He Has Valid Concealed Weapons Permit


"I was a threat to no one, I didn't threaten anybody."


A man was arrested and nine theaters were evacuated after he carried a gun into the Cinebarre movie theater in Thorton, Colo., police said.

James Mapes, 48, of Northglenn was taken into custody Sunday after patrons reported he was carrying a handgun strapped to his waist. He was released after being cited and given a summons.

Mapes told the Denver Post he has a concealed weapons permit issued by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in 2003. He said he has lived in the area for nine years and gone to movies at the Cinebarre theater dozens of times carrying a pistol openly and concealed.

"I was a threat to no one, I didn't threaten anybody," Mapes said.

Mapes was issued a citation for displaying a weapon and alarming another person after about 40 people were evacuated, Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes said Monday.

(Related: 'It's My Gun': Minn. Man Beaten, Arrested for Reportedly Carrying Handgun...Despite Having Concealed Carry Permit)

"We had people fleeing the theatres, with people yelling there was a man with a gun," Barnes said.

Theaters across the country have been jittery after 12 people were killed and 58 others were wounded or injured at an Aurora movie theater on July 20 during a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Colorado prosecutors filed formal charges Monday against James Holmes, a former neuroscience student accused in the theater attack.

Prosecutors were reviewing the case involving Mapes and the charges might be dropped if they determine he was complying with Colorado's concealed carry law that allows people who pass background checks and get training to carry guns in most circumstances, Barnes said.

What was not made clear was whether Mapes was in possession of a valid concealed carry permit.

Mapes told the newspaper he was in a darkened theater for about 15 minutes viewing "The Watch," when the lights came on and the show stopped. He said a woman sitting nearby took a cellphone call then said aloud that someone in the movie complex was seen carrying a gun.

KDVR in Denver actually talked to Mapes from behind his screen door on Monday and he maintained he has done nothing wrong. Watch the report below:

Calls made by TheBlaze to the Thorton Police Department to determine whether Mapes was in possession of a legal concealed carry permit at the time of his arrest were not returned in time for this report. Additionally, messages left with the Cinnebarre movie theater were not returned.

Yahoo News reports that Mapes was booked under Section 38-237(b)(1) of Thorton's Municipal Code, which 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."

However, the following is later listed as an "exception," which Yahoo left out:

A person issued a written permit to carry a concealed handgun issued by any sheriff authorized to issue such permits within the state and the carrying of such weapon is within the terms of such permit.

Further, according to Colorado state law, it's not permitted to simply post "No Gun Signs" -- such signs do not have the force of law. Further, there is seemingly no mention of movie theaters as areas where concealed handguns are prohibited.

More from the Colorado Legislature:

(1) (a) A permit to carry a concealed handgun authorizes the permittee to carry a concealed handgun in all areas of the state, except as specifically limited in this section. A permit does not authorize the permittee to use a handgun in a manner that would violate a provision of state law. A local government does not have authority to adopt or enforce an ordinance or resolution that would conflict with any provision of this part 2.

(b) A peace officer may temporarily disarm a permittee, incident to a lawful stop of the permittee. The peace officer shall return the handgun to the permittee prior to discharging the permittee from the scene.

(2) A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun into a place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law. Page 18-senate bill 03-024

(3) A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvements erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school; except that:

(a) A permittee may have a handgun on the real property of the public school so long as the handgun remains in his or her vehicle and, if the permittee is not in the vehicle, the handgun is in a compartment within the vehicle and the vehicle is locked.

(b) A permittee who is employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvement erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school while the permittee is on duty.

(c) A permittee may carry a concealed handgun on undeveloped real property owned by a school district that is used for hunting or other shooting sports.

(4) A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun into a public building at which:

(a) Security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices are permanently in place at each entrance to the building;

(b) Security personnel electronically screen each person who enters the building to determine whether the person is carrying a weapon of any kind; and (c) Security personnel require each person who is carrying a weapon of any kind to leave the weapon in possession of security personnel while the person is in the building.

(5) nothing in this part 2 shall be construed to limit, restrict, or prohibit in any manner the existing rights of a private property owner, private tenant, private employer, or private business entity.

Gun owners can also "open carry" in Colorado without a permit, so long as they do not enter areas or places where guns are prohibited by state or federal law or in Denver, which banned the open carry of handguns in 2006. Private business can also ban open carry. However, it is unclear if the theater had the proper signage.

"Basically, if it is not prohibited, it is allowed," the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners site says. But it cautions: "Be very sure of where you can and cannot, as open carry can attract a great deal of attention.  You do not want to unintentionally have that attention drawn to you when you are mistakenly in a prohibited area."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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