Can I Carry My CCW Inside Movie Theaters?
If you haven’t heard, national brand theater chains across the country are tightening their gun policies to reflect growing concern about illegal firearms entering theaters. Regal Cinemas is just one of the more recent national chains to institute a “stop and frisk” policy for guest bags and bins. what’s funnier than a 16-year-old boy finding a case of wine and some contraband m&ms in a soccer mom’s purse is the idea that national theater chains are somehow prepared to deal with attacks on the theaters.
The most recent attack, which happened in Tennessee, had a very fast response by law enforcement. This only served to bolster the idea that law enforcement were more equipped and ready to handle theater attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth.
can theater chains ban concealed carry?
Still, given the recent climate of attacks on theaters, it’s only natural that we address the question of the rules governing carrying your concealed firearm in a theater.
first: a theater is usually privately owned or leased. That means that as property owners/managers, they are allowed to create rules and regulations that would otherwise violate their civil liberties. Things like warrantless bag searches or gun bans are within your rights in most states.
However, almost all states that allow businesses to designate themselves “gun free” are required to post signs reflecting this. you, the concealed carrier, must be notified prior to your entry into that theater that this establishment prohibits the carrying of any weapon, except by law enforcement.
wait, let’s be specific: uniformed police forces. because we recently found out, even that definition gets a little confusing for companies that are dead set against guns.
Specific questions we’ve been asked about hidden carry in theaters:
If you attend one of the few theaters in the country that doesn’t have a specific ban on weapons clearly posted on the door and entrances, yes. in the worst case, if you are discovered, you will be asked to leave the premises. if you don’t, you can be charged with trespassing
You have to give them your consent to search your bag. if you decline, they can deny you service (and you can demand a refund). while they can check your bag, they can’t search it. so a concealed waistband carry holster is even more prudent in situations like this, don’t you think?
Theatre’s policy is dictated by its national network. If that national chain does not have a concealed carry gun policy and you have not been notified by clear signage that you are not allowed to carry your concealed firearm, you should be good to go.
You can if you think it’s too risky to travel to a theater without your concealed firearm. Ultimately, it is you who decides each piece of this equation. in any case, we recommend judicious reasoning and knowledge of the situation.
Do you have any other questions related to bringing a concealed firearm to the theater? ask in the comments section below.
about the author
james england (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for alien gear sleeves. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracts in Afghanistan.