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Ten kinds of stupid

James Mapes

James Mapes, 48.
(Photo: Thornton Police Department)

Last night things got “interesting” here in Thornton, the north Denver suburb where I live, at a movie theater I was in just a few months ago. And more recently, so were my grandkids and their parents.

James Mapes went into the theater openly carrying a holstered weapon. Yes, Colorado is an open carry state, but considering what happened recently just 15 miles away in Aurora, his judgment was, to say the least, questionable. Someone called the police, the movie was stopped, the theater emptied, and Mapes was arrested.

On the one hand I have to wonder why he was arrested if he did nothing illegal. The police, according to the Denver Post, said he was arrested for alarming the patrons and theater staff. The caption on the photo said he was arrested for “possession of a dangerous weapon in a liquor and beer establishment.” (The theater serves food and drinks in the auditorium.) Sidearms on anyone but a police officer would alarm me, too. Especially now. Especially in a movie theater. Maybe I’ll call the police next time I see someone like that, because I guarantee it’s not a common occurrence in my life. Despite this state having some of the most liberal gun laws in the country, I don’t recall ever seeing a civilian walking around with a gun on his hip.

Mapes may have been exercising his legal right to carry, but the patrons exercised their legal right to be afraid and call the police. I don’t know how this case will turn out or if we’ll ever hear about it, but the man was, at the very least, an insensitive dolt for doing what he did. And who really knows if his problem is merely insensitivity. Maybe he has deeper underlying issues …

The photo appears to be his police mug shot. Hmm, black “message” T-shirt. Looks like maybe it says “Liberalism …” A wary person might think the man has a chip on his shoulder or wants to make a point… not the kind of person you want to see packing heat.

I know one thing for sure. If I’d seen a man with a gun in that theater, I’d have left immediately, told the theater people why I was leaving and that I wasn’t coming back to that obviously dangerous environment, and called the police. If all patrons of any theater or other business got up and left in the presence of guns, maybe more business owners would voluntarily ban them. If lawmakers won’t act, maybe we should vote with our feet and apply some economic pressure.

In memory of those who died in the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting, July 20, 2012: ~ Jessica N. Ghawi, 24 ~ Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6 ~ John T. Larimer, 27 ~ Alexander J. Boik, 18 ~ Jesse E. Childress, 29 ~ Jonathan T. Blunk, 26 ~ Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32 ~ Alex M. Sullivan, 27 ~ Gordon W. Cowden, 51 ~ Micayla C. Medek, 23 ~ Alexander C. Teves, 24 ~ Matthew R. McQuinn, 27 ~

guns, Law, US


  1. Definition of Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By far, the most uncomfortable fact in my reality is that 99% of the world’s population, including those here in the US, meet that definition. And when you add in the fact that smart people seem like crazy people to dumb people, I’m left feeling particularly vulnerable. So you’ll excuse me for having sympathy for those who want to be armed to the fullest extent possible against that insanity. Of course 99% of that group is insane as well, which leaves me reeling and wishing faintly that we had an army of giant “Gort” robots – like those in the original version of “The Day The Earth Stood Still” – to keep us all in check.

    I have no answers PT, and you can see by what I just said why it was that I chose to keep my opinions to myself in the days right after that horrible tragedy in Aurora. There was a funny bit in a movie (I don’t remember which) that came out in the aftermath of the Bernard Goetz “subway vigilante” case, where every person on a subway train pulled guns in response to the activities of some gun wielding thugs. Back then I almost believed that we’d be better off if “open carry” wasn’t just legal, but mandatory as well. But then I got to thinking about that 99%.

    I’d like nothing more than to believe that my fellow citizens are all decent and honest at heart, that our legislators were truly acting in my best interests (or at least that there were some I could vote in that would), and that our police forces weren’t so overwhelmed with enforcing so many laws that make no sense that they might actually be available to help me in the event that I needed it. But the very unfortunate fact is that I don’t believe any of that…

    My apologies for the rant 😕

    • Hey, if I can rant like I did above, so can you. Bottom line is I have no desire to find myself in the middle of the OK corral. And that’s how I feel when gun advocates start howling about their right to carry.

      • Evolution science says that species go extinct when they finally face changes they are incapable of adapting to. As exceptional as we humans are, I think that in the end we’ll have died out for the same reason – with the exception that the “changes” we were faced with having been entirely self-created. Nevertheless, “death by stupidity” should still be listed as the “cause of death” should some aliens eventually come along to perform an autopsy. 😀

  2. OK Corral or open barrel (as in fish in a barrel)?

    This Mapes character must have been trying to instigate something. A troublemaker. A political clown.

    Down here in TN, we can take courses and training so that one can be licensed to carry a concealed weapon. One might be surprised by the number of normal, everyday characters that get these things and carry everyday and you’d never know it unless they had to protect themselves (or you). I know more than one woman over 70 that has carried a pistol for 40+ years and never had to use it. Its just the way it is down here. Normal.

    However, walking around with one on your hip would still scare me a bit.

    This is the truth: I live across the street from a church that voted to allow weapons into the sanctuary (a Baptist church). The chief of police goes there and several of the men wear weapons into the church (all under coats). That is a fine line on weird, since the Prince of Peace would hardly condone it, I think. But it is normal down here.

    In a theater in my hometown, Holmes might have gotten off a shot or two before 7 or 8 weapons were drawn from law abiding, self-protecting citizens, exercising their right to do so. A couple of people may have been shot, but not a theater full.

    Then again, it is hard for me to imagine it happening here or anywhere else… but it does. If the culture were more understanding that if they intend to do harm to me or mine, I will not sit back and do nothing, when I have the obligation to do what is needed to protect my little girl (or whomever your loved one is).

  3. @ All,

    After reading the newspaper item on Mapes’ arrest I conclude it was a case of conflicting laws. The state law permits open carry of a gun, but a “municipal ordnance” made it illegal to be in “possession of a dangerous weapon”. I think it’s clear, though, that the whole country is headed toward looking more and more like Buelahman’s Tennessee, and probably toward James Mapes’ concept of packing heat in open society. PT, I hope you will update us on this news item if you see a followup.

    Time Magazine’s cover story this week is on the gun control topic and charts show two interesting trends:

    1. Public support for “stricter gun laws” has steadily declined, from 78% in 1990 to only 43% in 2011.
    2. Though mass shootings persist, violent-crime rates have dropped dramatically, from 47 victims per thousand persons to only 15 in 2010.

    Meanwhile, the NRA appears to have Congress dead in their sights. A CBS 60 Minutes program a few years ago described how lobbying a single passionate issue such as the NRA’s has an effect all out of proportion to the size of the lobby’s population. I think Mr. Mapes is well on his way to becoming an NRA hero and the skit that IzaakMak mentioned, where everybody on a subway drew a gun, is transitioning from parody to reality. Designer holsters, anyone?

  4. I really do not want to live in a world where I see guns everywhere I look. I don’t need the constant reminder that we’ve become a nation of savages, such that people feel the NEED to carry a firearm in the first place.

    • Exactly, Pandionna. One could easily see this as the fundamental issue of the current campaign between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats believe it is possible to have a benign government which can be trusted in a open and free society to provide a minimum level of security, safety, healthcare and fairness for a civilized society. Republicans seem to believe that government can not be so trusted – it’s the wild West and we are all on our own. Yee Haw.

      • Unfortunately too many people seem to want to revert to the old Wild West. That’s not the road to a civilized, safe, peaceful nation. I think it stems in part from the fear engendered by 9/11. Sad that 12 years later, it still reverberates.

        • This flies directly in the face of what the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Henry, Paine, Mason, etc said of a civilized nation giving up their arms.

          Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.
          George Washington

  5. I can’t remember whose blog posted this same article and I was talking about it with them. Although I don’t care for the fact he went to the theater armed, he has a legal carry permit. When this comes to court, they’ll probably dismiss the charges because he wasn’t doing anything wrong that I am aware of. Just frightening a lot of people. He should have been more careful and considerate. Either leave it behind, or conceal it better – assuming the carry permit allows one to conceal their weapon.

    But I’d rather we just get rid of guns. entirely.

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