Another Atlanta festival shuts down, blaming state gun laws

Glock Model 21" by Michael @ NW Lens is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED.

Georgia is a pretty pro-gun state. The major exception to that is Atlanta.

The city has spent a lot of time trying to circumvent the state’s preemption law and has done so with the support of many of its residents. Now, they’re not really trying all that much anymore, thankfully, but the folks there are still less than pleased.


Now, a second music festival is blaming state gun laws for having to shut down.

Downtown Atlanta is losing a major music festival, seemingly due in part to the fight over gun control.

Georgia law says guns cannot be banned on public property, and for the organizers of SweetWater 420 Fest, it appears that was too great of a risk.

“Guns have no place at music festivals. They just don’t,” said Chandler Darnall, a music festival fan who also used to work security at festivals.

She’s not surprised that SweetWater 420 Fest is leaving downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Park, partially because of security concerns.

“It’s totally reasonable that an event like that would want to control whether lethal weapons are allowed inside,” said Darnall.

Except that it’s impossible to actually control that. As a result, those with no respect for the rules would still be able to carry guns while those who represent no threat at all would be disarmed.

Then again, someone who worked security is going to look at it from that lens and be about what makes life easier for security, not about respecting people’s rights.

However, while this festival cites the law as the reason it shut down, pro-gun voices had some valid points to bring up.


We also talked with John Monroe, vice president of GA2A, a group in Georgia that fights for gun rights.

“The whole point of the law is to make sure people can carry on public property, and if an event organizer wants to be able to prohibit firearms, then in order to comply with state law it needs to have the event on property,” said Monroe.

While the law was passed in 2014, it didn’t come to the attention of festival organizers until last year.

In other words, the law isn’t new and the festival organizers have options besides shutting down. They just don’t want to explore any of those.

Look, I’m big on property rights. I believe private property owners have the right to restrict pretty much any kind of behavior they want, including whether someone gets to speak freely or carry a firearm, so long as they’re free to leave if they don’t like the rules.

But public property is different. Any attempt to restrict my rights on property my tax dollars help fund is an unacceptable infringement on my right to keep and bear arms, especially since they cannot insure my safety. After all, guns were prohibited at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. That didn’t stop a mass shooting there.

And that was in California, which has much more onerous gun control laws as well; laws that were also supposed to stop that shooting from happening.


Let’s not forget about Las Vegas, either. That shooting happened at a music festival where the gunman never set foot on the festival grounds. Centennial Park may not be surrounded by casinos, but it’s also not exactly isolated either.

So yeah, I’m sorry, but the festival organizers could still hold their festival if they wanted, especially if guns are that big of an issue for them. They’re just not interested and would rather try to punish others for state laws.

What they don’t get is that most of the people who supported that law don’t actually care all that much if Atlanta’s economy takes a hit. Frankly, most would think it funny since they’re where most of our state’s anti-gunner come from anyway.

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