Atlanta’s Midtown Music Festival Canceled Due to Gun Law Changes – Billboard

The long-running Music Midtown festival at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, scheduled for September 17-18 with headliners My Chemical Romance, Future, Jack White and Fallout Boy, has been canceled, according to a statement from festival organizers. . The probable cause, according to industry sources Billboardare recent changes to Georgia’s gun laws that prevent the festival from banning guns on state-owned festival grounds.

“Hey Midtown fans – due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year,” read a statement posted on Music Midtown’s website. “We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope that we can all enjoy the festival together again soon.”

Although owner Live Nation did not provide additional details about the cancellation, pro-gun rights groups had been emailing and posting comments on the festival’s social media page for several months, making alluding to potential legal risks. the challenges of gun groups following a 2019 ruling that expanded a 2014 Georgia law that critics had dubbed the “Guns Everywhere” law.

This law – officially known as the “Safe Carry Protection Act” expanded Georgia’s already permissive gun statutes to grant residents the right to build up heat in bars, churches, schools and other private companies with the permission of the owners. It also expanded gun rights on public lands, such as city-owned Piedmont Park, although there was no legal consensus on whether or not the law would apply to private events on city property, such as Midtown Music.

That changed in 2019 when the Georgia Supreme Court established new rules about what types of businesses could and could not ban guns on public lands. Five years earlier, a Georgian gun rights group filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Botanical Garden after one of its members was briefly detained for attempting to openly carry a gun in his case in the garden, located on public land.

As part of the 2019 ruling, Georgia’s High Court established a test of how the Safe Transportation Protection Act should be enforced by private companies using public land. Companies and groups that held certain types of long-term leases for state-owned land could legally ban firearms, while companies with shorter-term leases could not. While the ruling favored the Botanical Garden, it created legal issues for festivals like Music Midtown that held short-term leases for city park sites.

The festival, launched in 1996 by Atlanta-based music promoters Alex Cooley, Pierre Conlon and Alex Hoffman, had long prohibited attendees from bringing weapons to the event. In general, most large companies will not host a festival in a location that allows gun owners to carry their guns at an event, with the exception sometimes of law enforcement. Some performer riders actually have specific language saying that the performer will not perform in cities or states where gun laws grant attendees the right to bring weapons inside a venue. the concert.

Although the 2019 Georgia Supreme Court ruling made it harder for private companies to deny authorized, armed citizens access to events on public lands, it did not give the city of Atlanta the power to enforce this decision. or force the festival to allow firearms in the event. Instead, the law created a pathway for gun carriers, who had also purchased festival tickets, to successfully sue event organizers if they were denied entry to a event taking place on a public property.

Additionally, local authorities are usually involved in the security of large-scale events and likely would not have been able to enforce an illegal gun ban, so the festival would have had little or no reinforcement to prevent guns from entering.

The cancellation of the 2022 festival gives Live Nation an extra year to weigh its options and possibly move the event to private land or lobby the state legislature to update the law when it resumes. session.

Gun rights groups are also refining their own strategies to expand gun rights at concerts and festivals and have begun to identify other Georgian events and venues on public land to test. the limits of Georgian gun laws.

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