Police arrested a man Sunday night after he carried a firearm into a a Thorton, Colorado theater nine days after the Aurora shootings, Kieran Nicholson of the Denver Post reports.
James Mapes, 48, believes that he was merely exercising his constitutional right to bear arms when he was arrested. “I’ve had no problems in the past. I’ve never had police take my gun from me in the nine years I’ve had the permit,” Mapes said.
Mapes recalled that he heard a woman near him call the police and report that there was a man carrying a gun in the theater. Police proceeded to evacuate the theater and detain Mapes. Upon being detained, he was disarmed, handcuffed, and arrested. Mapes has since been released after being cited and given a summons.
Police arrested Mapes for violating municipal ordinace 38-237 which states, “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, Colorado is an open-carry state, and its laws supersede those of Thornton. Mapes stated in a Monday interview that he had received a concealed-carry permit in 2003 from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado.
In a police photo, Mapes appears wearing a dark shirt that reads “Liberalism,” but the bottom of the shirt is cut off in the photo. The shirt bears a resemblance to a Zazzle t-shirt that reads “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” In an interview with Denver Westword, Mapes says his choice of shirt was not politically motivated. He goes on to say that he did not set out to be arrested, so his attire was unintentional.
In March, Mapes wrote a response to an editorial in the Denver Post that criticized the Colorado Supreme Court for overturning the University of Colorado at Boulder’s ban on students carrying concealed weapons on campus. He wrote at the time, “Just one concealed-weapon holder in a classroom where a random criminal attempts to shoot the occupants could and would reduce the casualties, as they would either take out the offender or at least distract them while others managed to get distance from the shooter.”
On July 20, James Holmes allegedly shot and killed twelve people at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora. Holmes was the only armed person in the theater, which had a gun-free policy.
The night of those attacks, Mapes was attending the Batman movie’s premiere just 17 miles away in Thornton. He was carrying his gun then, as well.
Unlike the Aurora theater, the Thornton location does not have a gun-free policy.