James Mapes Arrested After Gun Brought into Theater
Police took James Mapes into custody after he went into a movie theater with a gun strapped on his body in Thornton, Colorado, only 18 miles from Aurora where a tragic shooting occurred just days earlier. The Aurora incident killed 12 people and injured dozens more at the opening of the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
However, Mapes seems confused about why he was arrested as he claims he has a concealed-weapon permit and did not threaten anyone. Law enforcement noted that he wore a shirt with the slogan “Liberalism leads to terrorism.” Mapes commented that he didn’t think about the impact the shirt and the gun together would make. He related that he has carried a weapon into the theatre dozens of times over the past nine years. He was released pending a court appearance.
Colorado allows those with permits to openly carry weapons after they pass a background check and complete training. Mapes insists he was exercising his constitutional rights. Law enforcement and prosecutors are investigating his actions as they relate to his rights. However, police consider each situation on an individual basis. Prosecutors may drop the charges which will ensure he will not need a criminal lawyer.
The tragedy on July 20 has increased fear for many moviegoers across the nation. In the theatre, someone saw the weapon and became fearful. People panicked and fled as some yelled out warnings about a man with a gun. Security eventually evacuated nine theatres.
In an unrelated incident, three people in Cookville, Tennessee, have also been accused of bringing guns into a movie theater.
The nation is on high alert after the tragic deaths in Aurora. In some cases, this caution has infringed on the constitutional rights of citizens to carry and bear arms. An effective criminal lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding any arrest for carrying a concealed weapon or one in plain view. The conflict arises between the rights of people to feel safe in the community and individual rights.
Similar cases in the courts attempt to balance community safety and individual rights. One often-used example for free speech involves the rights of someone to jokingly say they plan to blow up an airplane as they pass through airport security. While all Americans have the right to free speech, they may not endanger someone else’s safety while exercising those rights. This situation is much the same, and it remains to be seen how the courts will interpret Mapes’ rights to carry a gun on the heels of the devastation in Aurora. As Mapes stated, he has practiced the right to carry a weapon into the theatre dozens of times prior to the Aurora shooting. Because of the recent shooting, these rights have been challenged.
However, many say that Mapes could have exercised better judgment. As a 48-year-old man, he saw all of the heartbreaking images and watched as the news unfolded in his backyard. The shirt he wore only added to the perception that he might begin shooting in the theatre. While he may not have done this intentionally, the combination of the wording on his shirt and the presence of a weapon intimidated others.
The courts will eventually resolve the controversy in this case as they decide between individual rights and group safety. The legal world and the public alike are awaiting the decision. No matter the verdict, the case will affect the rights of Americans.
This article was contributed by Jenny Kim, client manager for Price Benowitz Criminal Defense