Music Georgia’s gun laws are suspended by Midtown, showing a legal murkiness

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On September 16, 2018, a large audience attends the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. AP Photo/Paul R. Giunta/Invision remove caption
switch to caption AP Photo/Paul R. Giunta/Invision

On September 16, 2018, a large audience attends the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

AP Photo/Paul R. Giunta/Invision Atlanta’s Music Midtown, a significant festival, has been postponed for two days, according to the event’s organizers, who made the announcement on Monday. Georgia’s gun regulations, according to local media outlets, are what caused the cancellation, despite the official release citing “circumstances beyond our control.”

According to Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University, this situation is an example of a troublesome gray area under Georgia’s firearms laws.

The right of a gun owner to carry a firearm into a public park or any place where the public is allowed to congregate is often protected by state law, according to Lytton. A person may not bring a firearm onto private property, such as a private college or company, under specific situations, he added.

“The situation that arises when a privately planned performance is held in a relatively public location, such as a city park, is currently uncertain. Is that a personal gathering? Or is that an open space? And the answer to that is a little hazy “Lytton said to NPR.

At Piedmont Park, a public park close to Atlanta’s downtown, Music Midtown is held. My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Future, and Jack White were scheduled to perform as the headliners.

According to people acquainted with the decision, Music Midtown canceled the event due to a recent court decision that would restrict their authority to prohibit guns at the festival.

According to the news source, a recent decision by a Georgia appeals court made it more difficult for private organizations to prohibit gun owners from bringing their firearms to “short-term events” on public property. The appeals court’s decision specifically dealt with the right of the Atlanta Botanical Garden to prohibit weapons on its grounds.

The Music Midtown organizers haven’t responded to NPR’s request for comment and aren’t particularly making any comments on those reports.

The planners are posted on the canceled event’s website and social media : “Hey, Midtown devotees! This year’s Music Midtown will no longer be held owing to unavoidable circumstances. We hope to see each other again soon so we can all resume enjoying the event together. We were looking forward to rejoining in September.”

In 2019, Billie Eilish performs at Music Midtown. hide caption Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP
switch to caption AP Photo/Paul R. Giunta/Invision

In 2019, Billie Eilish performs at Music Midtown.

AP Photo/Paul R. Giunta/Invision The president of the Atlanta City Council, Doug Shipman, hinted that the state’s strict gun prohibitions were to blame. “Public policy has real repercussions, and in this case, economic and social implications on a great heritage,” said He tweeted in reference to the cancellation.

According to Lytton, the Music Midtown organizers would be seen as short-term tenants because they are not leasing the property for a long period of time despite their desire to use Piedmont Park as a public venue. A lawsuit from someone seeking to overturn this policy might be filed against them if they continue to forbid guns at the event.

Similar circumstances have occurred for other businesses in Georgia, according to Lytton. Private groups that manage events in public spaces have chosen to lift any gun bans due to litigation risk and legal uncertainty.

“My guess is that the Music Midtown organizers may be concerned about what would happen in court and that’s why they want to figure out some sort of resolution prior to that and come out with a statement as to whether or not they’re going to lift the ban or whether or not they’re going to stick by their guns, as it were, and wait to see what happens through litigation,” said Lytton.

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