“Movie theatre employees in Cookeville, TN called police Saturday night after seeing a man with a holster on his hip go into a showing of the new Batman film,” newchannel5.com reports. “When police were unable to locate him based on the employees’ description, the theatre stopped the movie and turned up the lights so that the police could ask if anyone had a gun.  Three men, with properly permitted weapons, stood up.  They were all asked to place their weapons in their cars.  The theatre has a ‘no weapons’ policy.  The three men were not charged with anything, and police suggested that the theatre make their weapons policy signage ‘more obvious.'” According to the herald-citizen.com the cops reckoned it was no harm no foul . . .

When the three men had gone to put their guns into their vehicles and then returned to see the move, Sgt. Harris told the audience, “That’s all, folks, you can all go home now.”

“I was just joking with them a little bit and somebody said, ‘But what about the movie?’

“So everyone stayed and watched the movie. Everybody was very cooperative.”

Veteran TTAG commentator Matt sent us the link and responded:

According to opencarry.org, Tennessee is not a traditional open carry state, but a shall-issue state that issues a carry permit that allows both open and concealed carry.  Handgunlaw.us (pdf warning) says that “no gun” signs in Tennessee carry the force of law.  Tennessee also has a duty to inform only “on demand.”

Florida also has an “inform on demand” law, but until now, I thought of that as a one-on-one interaction.  If they found the guy who was open-carrying, and asked for his permit, that’s fine, but the idea of an officer asking a group of 100+ people, in public, never occurred to me.

Since the signs carry force of law, if you were carrying concealed, would admitting it be self-incrimination? Would you have identified yourself when they asked?

76 Responses to Police Roust Concealed Carriers at TN Batman Showing

    • Yeah, same in SC, but hardly anyplace posts properly (the law is very specific about it), so you can just ignore them unless someone asks you to leave (else you’re trespassing). Works fairly well until someone gets all stupid and self-righteous and decides to educate them so they can post properly.

      • Yep, in SC the signs have to be:

        (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.

        (B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be:

        (1) clearly visible from outside the building;

        (2) eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;

        (3) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (4) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;

        (5) a diameter of a circle; and

        (6) placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.

        (C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:

        (1) thirty-six inches wide by forty-eight inches tall in size;

        (2) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black three- inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (3) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty-four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;

        (4) placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety-six inches above the ground;

        (5) posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.
        (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.

        (B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be:

        (1) clearly visible from outside the building;

        (2) eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;

        (3) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (4) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;

        (5) a diameter of a circle; and

        (6) placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.

        (C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:

        (1) thirty-six inches wide by forty-eight inches tall in size;

        (2) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black three- inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (3) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty-four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;

        (4) placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety-six inches above the ground;

        (5) posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.
        (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.

        (B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be:

        (1) clearly visible from outside the building;

        (2) eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;

        (3) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (4) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;

        (5) a diameter of a circle; and

        (6) placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.

        (C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:

        (1) thirty-six inches wide by forty-eight inches tall in size;

        (2) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black three- inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

        (3) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty-four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;

        (4) placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety-six inches above the ground;

        (5) posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.

  1. ^^ That was me. And the answer to my own question is… If they had stood in the front of the theatre and said, “If you are carrying a weapon, please stand up (or come down front or whatever),” I think I would decline to respond.

    • . . . I think I would decline to respond.

      So would any psycho who was planning to air the place out.

      Maybe TSA could just ask boarding passengers if they’re planning to blow up the plane.

    • I’m with you Matt. I won’t respond unless he askes me directly. And I will refuse to be searched if they start that crap without a warrant. May get a free ride in the back of a cruiser but I will not volunteer anything. Gutmacher is on speeddial.

    • It’s only a non-criminal violation with a $25 penalty anyway……… Even if they pursued it, which I doubt any prosecutor would.

  2. The obvious answer to a theater shooting in which a person assaulted a crowded room of defenseless people? Create more crowded rooms of defenseless people. Because the no gun policies worked so incredibly well last time.

    Gun-grabbers and the morons that follow them are truly insane, as defined by the practice of repeating failed practices with the expectation of different results.

        • Had I been alone, I would have gotten a refund and left. Had I been with a group, I would have been a team player- after all, it may have been the only chance they had to see the movie together. That being said, I would have still carried concealed back in (I know, at that point it would be illegal to do so), my life is worth that little risk.

  3. no one will ever know if others that were armed exercised their 5th amd rights and remained silent when questioned by the police.

  4. As a law abiding citizen, I would respond and comply. It would probably be an honest mistake, as I make a habit of checking the rules and avoid “gun-free” zones. I wouldn’t have gone back in the theater though.

    I’m sure everyone felt safer and enjoyed the movie more with all the law-abiding citizens disarmed–especially the criminals in the audience.

  5. I would NOT have responded to the nazi like questions.

    I would have sat in my seat, quite and waiting for the strip searches to commense.

    Needless to say I would NEVER go to that movie theater again.

      • To be honest, it was a proper response on the part of both the theater and the police. Obviously, the cop knew the law well enough to know that the gentlemen were breaking no laws, but he had to follow up on the request of the establishment. As far as the theater, you can only imagine how the employee who spotted them would have felt if he chose not to alert the authorities and then those men did end up shooting up the theater.

        I think the lesson we all learn from this is to get your Permit and then you don’t have to worry because no one will know you’re carrying.

  6. Sgt. Harris told the audience, “That’s all, folks, you can all go home now.” “I was just joking with them a little bit and somebody said, ‘But what about the movie?’”
    Unprofessional dic ks as usual

  7. Just why is it that the old line about closing the barn door after the horses have run away comes to mind? The system–namely, gun-free zones and reliance on police protection–failed in Aurora, so theaters and cops around the country are redoubling their efforts to do more of the same?

  8. I’m glad this issue came up.

    Obviously, from here on out, if this happens, whether or not I’m carrying, I get up and leave the theater, never to return.

    I could care less about a refund. At some point, principle before pennies. (had to reach for that alliteration)

  9. if the men were breaking the law by carrying in the theater, and it appears they were, by forcing the cops to take it up another notch they could have wound up in legal troubles out of proportion to the origanol violation. they responded truthfully and it appears the only penalty was to take their guns outside. i’m in agreement that i wouldn’t have been there in the first place if i couldn’t carry. but escalating a fairly minor event wouldn’t have been to smart.

    • Well JWM,

      I will refer you to this one little line with ZERO details in the article:

      “The three men were not charged with anything, and police suggested that the theatre make their weapons policy signage ‘more obvious.’””

      I have seen the “stickers & signs” that are smaller than a parking permit, stuck in out-of-the-way places, low-poor-or-no lighting for their “sign”, and with ZERO regulation on how & where to display it, the PAYING CUSTOMER is yet again shit upon with stupid, inane, rules by a faceless board of mouth-breathers that will NEVER have to suffer the stupidity of their “decisions”.

      Nope,

      I stick with my original comment, quite, unobserved, un-noticed, and with idiots that volentararly dis-arm themselves the pressure is off for the cops to “do something” about all this legal carry & carry conseal nonsense in their safe, secure, theater.

      Oh, and the “pig” who thought he was tellin a little joke and havin some “fun” with the room full of sheep when he told them to go home now would have seen a TOTALLY ILLEGAL 82oz BIG GULP COME SAILIN AT HIS STOOPID HEAD IF I HAD TO ENDURE HIS “JOKE”!

  10. yes, i’m sure you would have done just that. to a southern cop. i’d pay money to see the hilarity that would then break out.

    • yup.

      It would be funnier than a pig-cop who thinks he can torment a captive audience with his twisted sense of “southern hospitality” huh, mr. po-po-man?

      AND…..

      I would bet that it would have started a wave of “throw a cup” chants along with about thousand bucks worth of movie-munchies all headin in the direction of the cop just wantin to “have a lil bit of fun”.

      But you go ahead and be a righteous on me JWM, I don’t care and I like to give as good as I get…..or better!

      • I would love to be about two rows above you when you threw that coke. I would not consider it police brutality in the slightest if he knocked your dumb ass to the ground before he cuffed you. It wouldn’t be police brutality because that’s what any non-cop would likely do, as well.

        • While its not a smart thing to do, sometimes those overlords in blue just might need to learn a lesson. It might wake them up before something more serious happens. I’d just get up and leave, maybe demand my money, never to return.

          If I can’t joke about the TSA hand raping me, or quoting the 4th ammendment during said sexual assault or shoe bombs and the low odds of it happening while in a security line, a cop can’t make a stupid joke in a theater, a week after a shooting around a bunch of scared sheeple have been asked to stand up and disarm themselves.

        • +1000 for JFP

          my point exactly, sorry if my PC-speak is not enough to get my point across without offending the boys in blue down south who thinks it’s perfectly fine to torment people for his own amusement while being on the job and abusing his authority in doing so.

        • JFP – You aren’t native to the deep south are ya. Nothing you have said would have worked out very well for you at all.

          Let me know if you do decide confront a cop in that manner. I can record it all and make a killing on youtube or even pay per view.

    • LOL, no but I bet that is the IQ level of the “pig”, and his little joke fits right in with that kind of mentalitiy.

      • maybe that’s why baa baa bloomberg is trying to limit the size of sodas in nyc. cut down on the number of disability claims on the force resulting from thrown big gulps.

  11. “Veteran TTAG commentator Matt sent us the link and responded”

    Matt, you’re now on veteran TTAG commentator status here. Does that mean RF will be paying for your health insurance?

    • You’d have to ask him, although I’m guessing TTAG health insurance is of the “counseling and advisory” variety. As in, “I would advise you not to get sick” or “It is the opinion of counsel that you should not stand downrange of a loaded weapon.”

  12. Man – This is some scary spooky stuff- this stuff really hits home, I mean times of persecution are upon us – Guess I’ll take it one day at a time, make my vote count when the time comes, and put my faith in the good Lord above. And in the meantime thank my lucky stars so to speak that I still live in the greatest country in the world.

  13. Went to see “Dark Knight Rises” at the Rave cinema at Streets of Southpointe in Durham NC this afternoon with carry gun IWB. The theater website has no comments about guns and there were no signs at the theater either. There were signs about no smoking, and about turning off phones and pagers, but nothing about handguns.

    Very nice.

  14. Not worth losing a carry permit for violating the law by not responding. Would not have returned. Had I seen the sign, would not have gone into the theater in the first place.

  15. Not hating on open carry, but . . . . concealed means concealed. Clearly someone needs a new holster (try remora) and practice. I carry into theaters all of the time and unless they search me, well, they don’t see my tool belt.

  16. On an unrelated note today when I was kayaking down ther river, someone began to shoot a large cal. weapon across the river due to a obviously crappy backstop. Needless to say after having rounds come within feet of my head (thank god for low water and high banks) I got the hell out of there and called the cops.

  17. I’ve annoyed some friends a few times when they’ve spontaneously said “hey let’s go see a movie” and I ask them “which theater”.

    You see we have two big chains in the area that have “no guns” signs (though that doesn’t carry force of law in Va) and two smaller independents that respect rights and I absolutely WILL NOT spend my money at the anti-rights chains.

  18. It would be funny if someone went back to that theater with a airsoft gun in holster, and refused to stand up.

  19. like it or not, private companies have the right to bar concealed weapons on their property.

    I dont agree with it and think it is absolutely shortsighted and stupid, though I respect their right.

    • dex, i agree with that mostly. but if you run a business open to the public anywhere in pc america could you get away with saying no women, no people of faith, no people of a particular race. you would face all sorts of sanctions on your business. if i had a legal ccw and you denied me entry to one of these public businesses isn’t that the same?

  20. If I were in that theatre, STFU, would rule the day. It makes no sense that everyone in the place know that I just placed a loaded firearm in my car and that it is now unattended for 2hrs. for the taking.

  21. In WA state several anti rights establishments such as godfathers pizza and 7-11 stores post the RCW 42 sign that states only police officers can carry in a liquor licensed establishment. The funny thing is, the 42 sign applies only to taverns and bars that sell the hard stuff for consumption on premises, if one is selling beer and wine or liquor for take home, then that sign does not cover their restaurant store. And in WA state a business can bar firearm owners from entering but only under trespass laws and only if the carrier refuses to leave after being asked to

  22. This was really a great question, and I won’t disrespect any answer. Personally, I would have identified myself as carrying. YMMV.

    If I knew that carrying wasn’t permitted in that theater, I wouldn’t go there — love my money, love my gun. But once there, if I was called out, I wouldn’t sit around pretending that I’m something I’m not.

    Every day when I strap up, I make a decision, and I’m willing to accept the consequences of that decision. If my decision bothers someone, too bad for them because I don’t care. I’m not ashamed of my choice, and I won’t hide or try to duck the consequences.

  23. WHAT would the next step have been IF nobody admitted to it? Individual search? An “Oh well, sorry folks.”?

    On the premise that nobody admitted, and the individual search began, I presume that those found would have a little bit more of a problem. Refusal to cooperate? Probably would have brought charges including some that were not specifically firearm related.

    Me? Depending on how badly I wanted to see the movie, I might go back in and finish it, but I wouldn’t darken the doorway again of that establishment and would voice my distaste for their bad signage and how they treated everyone… using social media AND word-of-mouth to everyone I knew.

  24. Too simple!!! I gather up my girls and do not patronize their business!!!!
    In Ar they have to have signage posted if not already prohibited by law. See the sign…..I don’t go in!!! No sign then in I go!!!!! If they can’t have the decency to allow me to do what I am legally licensed and allowed to do while i am in their business then me, my girls and our money are leaving!!!! I will not support any business which voluntarily violates my rights!!!!!

  25. So happy to see that they disarmed these law-abiding citizens so that the sheep could safetly go defenseless, powerless and enjoy their movie. Maybe they can start having an armed police officer in EVERY threater, in EVERYTHING showing so that I DON’T have to carry a 38 oz. lump on my hip.. That would be nice.
    When are people going to wake up?

  26. YES!!!!! Requiring someone to identify themselves is self-incrimination and violates the Fifth Amendment!!!!! And for the police to address a crowd of people violates the Fourth Amendment in my opinion … just like the Aurora Police did when they stopped 20+ cars at an intersection and then searched everyone in the hope that a bank robber was among them.

    It reminds me of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. I can picture the Gestapo going anywhere and demanding that anyone or any group for any reason show their “papers”.

    This is so blatant that it has come up in the state of Ohio. I am not sure if appropriate legislation to address this is pending or already passed.

    • Trying to get legislation passed to limit police behavior is almost impossible in this country unless it’s framed as a racial issue.

  27. If I were there and they asked this I would not respond. What are they going to do? Search everyone? Not likely.

    If they somehow found out with their x-ray magical goggles I’d demand my money back and leave.

    I guess you could also tell him to sit his sorry ass down near the emergency exit if he’s going to be one of the “only ones” in case something does happen. But I doubt he would. We pay for our slavery.

  28. I predict that post-Aurora, more and more people will be carrying concealed in public places such as this, no matter the signs say. They’ll just be far more discreet about it.

  29. In 2004 I attended the premier of Aliens vs Predator at an AMC theater in Mesa, AZ. I open carried there as I had dozens of times before. My friend also was open carrying. We got tickets, walked past ticket takers, walked past the cops being paid by the theater to work security. No one said anything to me or my friend. In the middle of the movie we were approached by a manager with two cops and called into the lobby. Apparently one of the other patrons complained. The manager asked us to put our guns in our vehicle. We said we wanted a refund and would take our business elsewhere. I found the situation most irritating because we had been there multiple times before without incident, no one told us on the way in, and they interrupted us in the middle of the movie. I haven’t been back there since. I only frequent businesses that do not post signs.

    I only conceal carry now and have for the past several years. Open carry has become less and less common in AZ since CCW permits first came to exist here in 1994, and now with constitutional carry there aren’t many good reasons left to open carry on a regular basis.

  30. While several here have stated that they carry openly in public areas such as movie theaters, as a practical matter it strikes me as foolish.

    Seeing someone openly carry a gun likely has a deterrent effect (at least against muggers), but I’m not sure it helps much against a loony (as in Aurora) who’s acting out some psychodrama in his head. And above all, open carry tends to rile and disturb those around you, even if you don’t notice their reaction.

    For ordinary people, the lack of a need to go visibly armed is a hallmark of living in a civilized place and society. Conversely, finding themselves in the presence of armed people is disturbing, however normal this may seem to you personally. These folks may be right or wrong in their assumptions about society, but they will respond to those feelings and act on them. Thus, the Intermission With Cops.

    Me, I think carrying concealed and staying situationally aware puts you in the best position. You’re armed and can deal with with trouble if it arises, but you’re not wearing a big “I’m-carrying-so-shoot-me-first” sign. And nobody around you is any the wiser, which gives you more freedom of action.

    But I’m going to stop here, because I’m not looking to threadjack this into a discussion of the wisdom of open vs. concealed carry.

    • Robert: Threadjacking happens quite often around here, and honestly, since Tennessee is an open & concealed carry state, it wouldn’t really be that out of line.

      That said, you didn’t answer the question. Open or concealed, would you have identified yourself?

      • Sad to say, I probably would have. Thinking that it was only a matter of time before they searched me, regardless of whether they have a right to do so.

        When it comes to keeping my right to keep and bear arms I reckon I cooperate with the cops and THEN make a fuss.

  31. I probably would have gotten up, told them to hold up the movie until I got back, and then gone home. By the time they got the movie going there would be so many people pissed at the police and the theater policy they likely would have made a stink to the management. After the management is pressured into offering refunds to everyone there, they would likely think twice about enforcement of their policy in this manner. Especially if it happens more than once.

  32. I carry everywhere. The exception being, somewhere that has the actual statutes posted. Those, I dont go to. One of my favorite Wing places posted the actual statute… that was a bad day for me.
    If the “law” isnt posted, it goes with me, noones gonna know unless theres a crazy in there with a bad idea…

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