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CO Man Brings Gun to Theater for His Protection

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 31, 2012 8:45 AM

A Colorado man brought a handgun to a movie theater, triggering panic and an evacuation Sunday night. James Mapes' gun was visible in a holster around his waist, and he claims it was for self-protection, Denver's KDVR-TV reports.

But police in suburban Thornton, Colo., arrested Mapes, 48, on suspicion of possessing a dangerous weapon -- a municipal law in Thornton, The Denver Post reports. Mapes' gun was confiscated, and he was released with a summons to appear in court.

Mapes told The Post he's held a concealed weapons permit since 2003. So how might that affect his charges?

Whether James Mapes' gun was legal likely depends on the theater's policies and the laws in Thornton where the theater was located.

Colorado's concealed weapons law allows adults to carry concealed handguns with a valid permit. But some places are off-limits, including federal institutions and public schools. Private businesses and property owners can set their own policies regarding concealed weapons, according to state law.

Local laws can also include firearms restrictions. Thornton's municipal code prohibits possession of dangerous weapons including handguns, but also explicitly states that a valid concealed handgun permit is an exception to the prohibition.

Thornton's gun law also makes it illegal to carry a firearm while drunk or under the influence of controlled substances; a concealed weapons permit is not a defense for the intoxication law.

As for the Cinebarre Movie Theater where Mapes was arrested, it's not clear what the theater's weapons policy is. But Mapes told The Post he'd taken his gun to the theater dozens of times without incident.

James Mapes' gun may have escaped notice in the past, but not in the wake of the Aurora theater massacre. If convicted of the weapons charge, Mapes could face a $150 fine and possible jail time.

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