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orangello 10-01-2009 09:01 PM

open carry in a theatre got dude hassled, court says he was OK, hassle bad. tron_wins_suit_200909382015

Pistol-packing theater patron wins suit
Updated: Thursday, 01 Oct 2009, 8:33 AM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 30 Sep 2009, 8:16 PM MDT

Reporter: Jeff Todd
Web Producer: Bill Diven
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE/KBIM) - Matthew St. John prefers to be prepared should violent crime come his way, but his habit of wearing a visible sidearm caused a problem for Alamogordo police although not for a federal judge.

Last year St. John went to a movie at an Alamogordo theater and later went outside to meet a friend and buy a ticket for a second movie.

He believes that is when theater management saw him openly carrying a pistol, which is allowed under New Mexico law without a permit.

During previews for the second movie between five and seven police officers arrived and took St. John out of the theater. St. John considered his removal from the theater to have been illegal and said he was searched and questioned by police for nearly an hour.

"They kept asking why I had a gun in the theater over and over and over," St. John told News 13 on Wednesday. "I answered them the first couple of times, and then I stopped answering the question in general."

He says he cited his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Police eventually let him go and did not arrest or charge him. Still St. John decided to take legal action, not under the Second Amendment but as a Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure issue.

"The question presented was, based on him legally carrying that firearm, were the police officers justified in seizing and searching him," Miguel Garcia, St. John's attorney, said. "And the answer to that is no."

St. John sued seven Alamogordo police officers in U.S. District Court. The judge ruled this month that the officers had violated St. John's civil rights and awarded him $21,000.

The Alamogordo Department of Public Safety said it’s learned from this case.

“We meet with the officers and then conduct additional training so that we can prevent these situations from occurring," DPS Director Sam Trujillo said.

The DPS said some training has already taken place, and after the city’s legal department reviews the case, there will be more training.

It's dark, dude was sober; i wouldn't be bothered at all by his carrying. I like the 4th amendment angle.

Bigguns911 10-01-2009 10:00 PM

Ok I am biased on this one but $21K for 1 hour of his time. I think that is a bit much, I look at it from the cops point of view and say they did what they need to do. The manager and the public have 1-no idea it is legal to open carry, 2-the duty to keep other customers safe and secure, and 3-the right to refuse him into their theater.

I believe in the lawful carry of firearms and that it has and could stop a lot of bad things from going down. The problem I have with this situation is the suing of the cops for doing their jobs. Yes some of you out there will say, the law says he can carry in the open so the cops had no right. Look at it in this way, we first off do not know what the manger told the dispatch, then we do not know what dispatch told the cops, then the cops had to find out what was going down. I thing they did the correct thing with pulling him out and talking with him. The search thing let me ask you, if you are the cops and you get this call do you want to let the possible suspect (yes he was a suspect until they found out more) have a gun. They probably took the gun off his hip but they do not know if he had more. Where there is one gun there are more guns.

I will say 1 hour is a bit long, and all the Q's over and over about the gun is a but much but not 21K worth. I can see an apology or something, but that much money is crazy. I think the over all public safety and good was at question on this one and the cops did what they believed was right. Sorry he missed his move but he should be a happy the cops did their jobs. As a gun owner and a person that Carry's I believe that if someone calls the cops because they see my gun I should do what the cops want me to. Would it be irritating yes, but I would also look at it this way, if I was not a good person and carrying a gun I would want me off the streets. Just my point of view.

Gojubrian 10-01-2009 10:24 PM

Good for him, he should have gotten more.

It's not about monetary gain for his time, it's about his rights being violated. Now maybe it won't happen so frequently as this will set a presedence. :cool:

orangello 10-01-2009 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by Bigguns911 (Post 168755)
(yes he was a suspect until they found out more)

...if I was not a good person and carrying a gun I would want me off the streets. Just my point of view.

Not to be overly argumentative, but what law was he suspected of breaking at the time, disturbing the peace? If anybody was disturbed, it was probably by the half dozen officers filing in to remove duder from the theatre.

If you were a bad person, would you open carry in a theatre? I've known a number of what most people would consider "bad people"; some of them carried a pistol. I can't think of any who ever open carried in public. That would seem like a way to gather attention and not in a productive way. edit* Upon further thought, i do remember one confirmed "bad person" who was known for showing people his pistol (hi point, stolen); he is now in the state penitentiary at Parchmen, MS for letting somebody else use that same pistol to pull a home invasion. Dumb kid actually admitted that the stolen gun was his (not legally, he bought it hot i hear), 12 years IIRC. I hope he is kicking himself in the butt right now.

If the theatre had a sign prohibiting firearms or weapons, i would have nooooo problem with this, but i didn't see that in the article. This was also the second time that day that he had been granted admission; couldn't they have declined to sell him the second ticket and avoided such a scene?

Everybody has a point of view, please don't be offended that ours differ here. :)

I do think $21K is a bit much; had it been me, i'd have wanted a letter of apology and assurances that retraining would take place to avoid a similar issue in the future. Hopefully he will donate some of it to the NRA or a similar group.

Duke575 10-02-2009 03:15 PM

Here is a link to the local newspaper where people are protesting it. Good beat down by those in favor.

Judge's decision about gun-toting man is way off the mark - Topix

Bigguns911 10-02-2009 05:46 PM

Look all, as I said before I am in favor of carrying a gun. It is our right if we legally can carry one. The problem I have is why carry in the open, could he not get a CCW, was he just pushing his thoughts and such on other, is he a bully looking to make a point. I can’t see why I or any other Responsible gun owner would want ever one and their dog to see my gun. Like today, I am going to town with my two kids, mother and wife. I want my gun with me so I picked out the clothing I would have on to cover it up. It is not that hard to carry your gun, keep other safe and not make a big issue of it.

I can see open carry in the woods, camp area, hiking but no in the center of a city or town. That is just asking for trouble.

I understand others look at these things in a differing light, that is OK, but understand, as it is our gun rights are under attach each day. If we make more people concerned or frightened of guns and their owners how do you thing they will vote when asked about gun law. We need to be smart with our guns. Keep safe all.

Duke575 10-02-2009 06:06 PM

Just an FYI, his lawyer received most of that settlement. I think he got only 6K. I know the guy personally. All he wanted was an apology from the DPS and they refused. So he took them to court.

orangello 10-02-2009 06:25 PM


Originally Posted by Duke575 (Post 169133)
Just an FYI, his lawyer received most of that settlement. I think he got only 6K. I know the guy personally. All he wanted was an apology from the DPS and they refused. So he took them to court.

I may have misunderstood the article. Did he have a permit to carry concealed at the time of the incident? I was thinking he did not but was carrying openly under a different law that allowed one to open carry without a permit.

If he did have a concealed carry permit, then i would agree that it would've been smarter to carry concealed. (no offense to duder)

I don't blame him for asking for an apology, at all.

GREASEMONKEY 10-06-2009 06:33 PM

This guy had to know that he was gonna receive a hastle sooner or later. Not that he is wrong, but you have to be expecting it, ya know!

The general police population have no clue about weapons laws in general, and just do whatever they please at the moment, untill a superior corrects the situation. Most of the time.

I have had a situation that officers tried to disarm me, and it did get pretty hairy for a minute, but eventually was smoothed over by the police cheif. I personally was on my private propety, and was the one who called the police for help. They show up and me with a holstered firearm, and immediately forget about the trespassing idiot I call them about, and focused on me!

I think this guy got some earned fame&money!

Gojubrian 10-06-2009 09:08 PM

If I called the police I wouldn't be toting a firearm when they get there. It is legal, but it also puts them on edge even more.

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