Zoo Atlanta found itself in the midst of a lawsuit. They’d changed their policies to prohibit the lawful carrying of any firearm on the premises. This is a bit of a problem since the property is owned by the city and not the zoo.
The purpose of any such lawsuit is, of course, to get the courts to force the policy to change in accordance with state law.
Well, it looks like that won’t be necessary.
Zoo Atlanta has decided to change its weapons policy following challenges from gun rights activists and groups, the business said on Tuesday.
Previously the zoo updated its policy to ban all weapons from the property “in an effort to enhance and protect the safety of our team members, guests and the animals in our care.”
Zoo Atlanta maintains it did nothing wrong and believes the move is still supportable from a legal standpoint. However, they’re still changing it.
Their full statement:
As was reported, Zoo Atlanta recently updated its weapons policy to prohibit guests from bringing guns onto Zoo Atlanta grounds. This change was made in an effort to enhance and protect the safety of our team members, guests, and the animals in our care. Since that time, the legal grounds for that decision have been questioned by individuals and organizations advocating the right to carry weapons.
Zoo Atlanta continues to believe that its decision to prohibit carrying of guns onto Zoo Atlanta grounds is legally supportable and in the best interest of safety. At this time, however, Zoo Atlanta is choosing not to undergo the major distraction and expense of litigation, but will instead give public officials an opportunity to consider and address this issue. In the meantime, and effective immediately, Zoo Atlanta’s weapons policy will revert to its original form, which allows guests to carry weapons as permitted by law. Zoo Atlanta recognizes and maintains the right to pursue further analysis of this policy.
In other words, they say they were right to restrict weapons, but they’re going to go back to the old policy because the lawsuit will be a big old distraction.
Well, in fairness, they’re not wrong. It actually would be a distraction.
But I don’t think that’s why they did it. I think they have some degree of doubt as to whether or not it would survive the legal challenge (more on that in a bit) and were concerned about whether a court’s ruling would prevent other entities from emplacing similar restrictions.
That’s just speculation on my part, but if you’re convinced you’re right, why change policies so early in the process?
Then again, lawsuits suck and I’m sure Zoo Atlanta has had its fair share of them, so maybe they just decided to put an end to the whole thing.
However, I don’t think it was as supportable legally as they’d like to believe. Part of the problem is that they refused to answer questions that would make it clear if it was or not. By changing the policy, they avoid the discovery process where it will be clear just how things are structured. Was their lease with the city such that they actually could make such restrictions? It’s possible they didn’t know, either. Therein lies the issue and why they likely had concerns.
Either way, the policy has been changed, so the lawsuit accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. That’s a win and we need all the wins we can these days.