Lakewood WA AMC theatre - a rant and a request for help


May 19, 2013, 01:24 AM
First off, been a while. I've tried not to come to this site lately because this site prompts me to go shopping for fancy toys, and I'm trying to keep my budget down. Anyway, I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness tonight (phenomenal movie IMHO, but I won't spoil it or discuss it beyond that here) at the AMC Lowes theater in the Lakewood, WA Towne Center. Those that live here might know that this theater has some awesome reclining leather seats, and it's the closest theater to where I live. That makes this story all the more depressing.

After I picked up my ticket, I went up to the clerk who tears it in half and points at one of the individual theaters. Before I made it up to her, a security guard walks up and starts to accost me:
Guard: Sir, here at AMC we have a no-weapons policy, so your knife-
Me: My knife? (I was surprised that he could see my knife because it's in my back pocket, and these are loose-fitting cargo shorts).
Guard: Oh, I'm sorry, is that a knife or a flashlight you have clipped on there?
Me: It's a flashlight.
Guard: Okay, sorry, sir.

Now, on the one hand, at least a business that has a no-weapons policy has armed guards. On the other, this is an armed guard who mistook my flashlight for a knife, and did not realize at all that I did happen to have not only a knife, but also a firearm concealed. (I did not feel it prudent to point that error out to him). I'm not saying this to say "looky at me, I carried in a no weapons zone, I'm a rebel!" but to point out the fact that they are unable to stop weapons from coming in.

Now for the help part. I've never had to write a "I will not use your establishment anymore" letter before. However, before I write my letter, I need to know what exactly I should put in it. I will definitely put that as a law abiding carrying citizen I do not feel safe in gun-free zones, and Regal will most likely be getting my business from now on. I am also very likely to put in the exchange I had where a guard was ready to take action on me for a flashlight. I'm tempted (and I'm guessing you guys are going to talk me out of it) to put in there how easy it is to actually get weapons in past these guys. I will at least say it's good that they provide armed security if they don't let private citizens carry, but will also stress the above.

You guys have always been good to me; sometimes giving me much-needed admonishment but also giving me the advice I need. Well, now I definitely need the later (and hope not the former).

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May 19, 2013, 01:38 AM
That would have pissed me off. I'd want to sleep on it before writing the letter, so I'm going to do the same before responding with advice. I agree about the new Trek, though, it's excellent.

May 19, 2013, 01:53 AM
Well I figured by the time advice rolled in I would have slept on it ;)

May 19, 2013, 03:22 AM
I'm tempted (and I'm guessing you guys are going to talk me out of it) to put in there how easy it is to actually get weapons in past these guys.

You have two options regarding this, but first we need to know whether or not you actually want them to successfully repel weapons. If so, you could suggest the use of metal detectors at the ticketing checkpoint. Problem is, if you admit you carried a gun and broke the law, the letter needs to anonymous. Problem with that is it likely won't be taken as seriously as if you leave this out, but make the letter personal by including your name and (possibly) some very basic contact info.

Bottom line is the letter you send depends on what you want to achieve. AMC isn't some mom-and-pop delicatessen, so you probably won't be very influential regarding a change of policy. If you know that and want to send a letter to make a personal point to the managers who read it (and probably nobody else), your letter should sound very different.

I think your time would be spent well either way, but especially if your goal is more in line with the latter point in the previous paragraph. This would be a fun, fruitful letter to write, IMO.

May 19, 2013, 03:56 AM
Pretty sure I didn't break the law (I would verify before I sent the letter in). I just broke their company policy. Worst that can happen is they trespass me (meaning I can't go there legally) which would basically reinforce my decision to go to Regal instead.

May 19, 2013, 04:17 AM
I was under the belief that Washington state gives private businesses lawful authority in declaring their own weapons policy, the same way Arizona does. If so, you broke the law. If not, my mistake and I apologize. Frankly, it doesn't matter to me either way - I didn't mean to insult you.

After a quick check on, "No guns" signs do not have force of law in Washington. My mistake.

Based on that, you could have told that guard that yes, you were carrying a weapon, and walked away to enjoy your movie. There would have been nothing he could have done about it. If I were you, I'd write that letter, and I'd tell them that you'll continue to exercise your right to carry whether they like it or not.

Can they trespass you for violating a company policy that directly contradicts your right to carry based on state law? That would defeat the purpose of the law.

May 19, 2013, 07:15 AM
You mentioned that the guard said they have a no-weapons policy, but did they have a sign saying no weapons or no firearms? Another poster said that even signs don't have the "weight of law" in WA state. Unless you were asked to leave, you did nothing wrong.


May 19, 2013, 08:18 AM
Bobson, you are incorrect. If the sign has the force of law, then you break the law by entering the premises with a gun. If the sign does not have the force of law, then they can still tell you that you need to surrender your firearm or leave it elsewhere, or else you must leave the theater, at which point you would be in violation of the law if you were to stay.

May 19, 2013, 09:39 AM
Maybe,just maybe the way to go is contacting local ranges and shooting clubs, explaining the situation, and asking for a boycott whilst informing the management via letter campaign. Seems "voting with your wallet" seems to get the most response..................

May 19, 2013, 11:27 AM
Make sure your voice is heard here, too.

You may have to enter your zip code and save it when you first enter the site. I know many who read the reviews here and base their patronage (or lack therof) on what's left on this site.

There are several reviews already of this theater, none of which are complimentary to carrying anything in there. Specifically, one reviewer cites the guard who is good at noticing everything. Sounds like you may have run into the same guy.

May 19, 2013, 11:42 AM
First you write:

(I was surprised that he could see my knife because it's in my back pocket, and these are loose-fitting cargo shorts).

Then you add:

this is an armed guard who mistook my flashlight for a knife,

I don't think he mistook a flashlight for a knife. I think it really was a knife.

That being said, I would not go off on how "useless" a no-weapons policy is at keeping armed bad guys out (I took my wife and daughter yesterday to a local Chuck E Cheese's and strolled right past the "No Weapons or Firearms" sign.) Keeping out evildoers is not the reasoning behind those policies. Those are simply lawyer-signs, intended to offer a defense against lawsuits by allowing the establishment to state that anyone who caused harm while armed on site was already against the establishment's rules. I also would not say anything about having already "defeated" their system.

I see no harm in advising that you'll be taking your business elsewhere, but you should keep in mind that "elsewhere" will likely be adopting similar policies in the near future.

Funny thing about the Chuck E. Cheese's sign was that the firearm silhouetted on it looked more like my Heritage Rough Rider than any "assault weapon" capable of massacre.

May 19, 2013, 01:10 PM
Posted on FriendorFoe.
I don't think he mistook a flashlight for a knife. I think it really was a knife.

What he saw was the flashlight clipped in my front pocket, and mistook it for a knife. When he mentioned the knife, my first thought was that he saw my knife in my back pocket. However, when I asked "my knife?" he pointed to the thing clipped into my front pocket, which was not a knife.

Maybe I can suggest a "no murder" sign instead of a "no weapons" sign, because people who carry into an establishment are statistically very unlikely to cause problems...It's half tongue-in-cheek, half not.

May 19, 2013, 01:17 PM
Since we have a supreme court ruling saying saying the second amendment is a right, why not compare their no weapons policy to racism and throw it back in their face?

May 19, 2013, 01:29 PM
AMC Lowes,

I recently visited your establishment in the Lakewood, WA Towne Center, only to have a very unfortunate experience. I was accosted by a guard who tried to tell me that you have a no weapons policy and my knife was not allowed into the theater. What he thought was a knife turned out to be a flashlight. There are several problems with this small series of events.

First, I am a law-abiding gun owner with a concealed carry permit. Within the self-defense focused knowledge bases, weapon-free zones are known to criminals as a place likely to offer little resistance when they go on a rampage. Yes, you have armed guards, which shows you care about the safety of your patrons, but I would feel much safer knowing there are armed citizens in the theater than having to wait for the guard to respond. As such, I do not feel safe in your establishment, and will be instead use Regal as my primary theater, and I will be suggesting that other likeminded individuals do the same.

The second issue is that the security guard was unable to tell the difference between a flashlight and a knife. I always carry a flashlight clipped to my right pocket. When the guard saw me, he came up to me and said, “sir, we have a no weapons policy, so you’re knife,”
Shocked, I asked, “my knife?”
At which point he asked “er, is that a knife or a flashlight?”
I told him it was a flashlight, at which he apologized and let me through. This scares me more than a gun-free zone: an armed guard who thinks he sees weapons when he does not.


The worst part is that, while the guard only saw a flashlight, he missed the knife and firearm that I was actually carrying. I apologize for violating your policy, but don’t worry – I don’t plan on needing to again. However, the point here is that despite your policy and your guards, it is very easy to get a concealed weapon into the theater. A criminal whose mind is set on mass murder will not care about a no-weapons policy (which is the bigger deal, multiple homicide charges or possible trespass?). If a criminal can bring weapons into your establishment, law-abiding citizens should be able to as well, as they should be allowed to defend themselves.


The stuff in the {tentative} section is merely tentative.

Good idea, Aiki, just not sure how to work it in there.

May 19, 2013, 02:34 PM
Skribs, your response in #14 clears it up for me. Thanks.

Incidentally, I was headed into court several years ago to testify as a witness in a traffic accident case. I was carrying an OC-spray weapon designed to look like a pen or marker. When I checked my "metals" at the security entrance and they were returned to me, I handed the security officer the "pen" and told him to check and keep it for me until I exited. I showed him what it was, and he appreciated that, remarking that he "would have let that go through", thinking it was indeed a pen.

May 20, 2013, 01:06 AM
Costco has the same policy against weapons in WA state. I carry in Costco all the time. Its not violating any law, just their policy. Worst that can happen is that they ask you to leave and cancel your membership. Anti weapon policies are wrong, unjust and ineffective. Anyone planning on using a weapon for crime does not care what the law or a company policy dictates. Sad thing is, if you had to use your weapon in the establishment to counter/stop/prevent a violent criminal act, you would not be seen as a hero, you would still be removed and banned from the business and likely arrested for discharging a firearm and "endangering" the public, no matter how many lives you saved in the act.:banghead:

May 20, 2013, 01:47 AM
Eh, I haven't been to a theater movie in many years. I've mostly stopped supporting professional sports and Hollywood because of their anti-gun stances.

I can watch movies at home on TV for nearly free, or inexpensive DVDs if you can wait just a while for them to come out, and watch sports free on TV. Revenue to these industries in nearly nothing from me....

I vote with my dollars, so should you.

May 20, 2013, 01:04 PM
Have you checked CO laws on what sort of knife is a weapon? The state defines what is and isn't a weapon, unless a local law is more restrictive in the absence of preemption, so knowing whether you're actually carrying a weapon as the law defines it or not is important information to have. CO law prohibits carrying a knife with a blade longer than 3.5in concealed.

May 20, 2013, 09:30 PM

May 20, 2013, 10:14 PM

For Washington state there's no apparent blade length restriction and the only prohibition in general is switchblades or gravity knives.-
RCW 9.41.250
Dangerous weapons — Penalty.

Every person who:

(1) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slung shot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife, or any knife the blade of which is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, or any knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement;

(2) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon; or

(3) Uses any contrivance or device for suppressing the noise of any firearm,

is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.

May 23, 2013, 11:26 AM
HSO, it appears that spring-equipped "assisted-open" knives are also prohibited in Washington , not just switchblades and "gravity-assisted" ones.

June 5, 2013, 05:00 PM
Have you looked who supports the Brady Campaign? Yup, AMC is a big supporter. I do happen to know the Guard at that theater and is his well-trained. Rule of thumb is for every one weapon he spots there are three he doesn't. There is a sign at the door by the way. Yes they can ask you to take the weapon outside, or give you a refund and leave. Speak with your money dude. You are not the first person he has talked too. Trust me I talked with him after he spotted mine. He was a good guy just doing his job and is a big 2nd supporter but needs to feed his family too. He said he isn't dumb, he knows if someone has their mind set on shooting the place up they will. His issue that he likes people to also understand that if their is a shooting in the theater and he responds to the shooting. Who will he mistake as the good guy or bad guy? Joe CCW holder or Bad dude who wants to kill when they both look the same? He also said it is to lessen the chances of other issues going down with guest and employees because it is after all Lakewood.

I asked him if he has ever had anyone not take their weapon outside before when asked. He told me it has happened once and that cops came. Not only was the person trespassed but got cuffed too for causing alarm with their weapon. So depending how the police want to spin it, it can end bad. Remember there are many reasons to carry a gun and many reasons to know when not too. We must be stewards of "lawful" or "ruleful" fallowing gun owners.

By the way Regal on 84th st is antigun too. Don't let the Lakewood PD guy notice your gun.

Send your letter though. Just remember that AMC is antigun and owned by China

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