Georgia's gun laws present too much risk
Organizers of Atlanta's Music Midtown Festival took to Twitter on August 1 with an announcement that the event would be cancelled for 2022.
In a year when many live music events were finally held once again after the global pandemic forced many events to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021, the news comes as a disappointment to Georgian music fans who had tickets.
The reason for the cancellation appears to be that organizers were concerned that they would be unable to restrict attendees from carrying guns to the festival site - thanks to Georgia's constitutional carry laws signed earlier this year by Governor Brian Kemp.
The festival was scheduled to be held on September 17-18 in Piedmont Park, featuring music stars including Jack White, My Chemical Romance, Mitzski and many others. Fans will now be refunded their ticket fees within the next 24 hours.
Constitutional carry in Georgia
On April 13, Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed SB319 into law meaning that constitutional carry of handguns became legal in the state. In practice it meant that any qualifying person could own and carry a handgun without first applying for a permit or having to undergo training.
Commenting on the bill, Governor Kemp had this to say:
“SB 319 makes sure that law abiding Georgians, including our daughters, and your family too, can protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government. The Constitution of the United States gives us that right, not the government.”
While gun rights advocates applauded Georgia joining over 20 other states that have enacted constitutional carry of firearms, it presents another dilemma when it comes to large gatherings of people such as music festivals - how to control the security risk associated with large numbers of potentially intoxicated people in one place, many of which could be carrying guns?
When Texas enacted constitutional carry in September 2021, one law enforcement officer had this to say:
“The problem is that the bad guys want to carry guns too. There has to be a way of determining who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy.”
His fear typifies that of many who are against free carry of guns - without the ability to check if a gun is legally owned and registered, the police are no longer able to tell who is legally allowed to own and carry a gun and who isn't.
The risk of consequences forced the event to be cancelled
According to one report, organizers of Music Midtown feared they would be subject to lawsuits from gun owners if they tried to enact temporary restrictions. They also feared that artists would back out from appearing if guns were allowed at the event.
Consequently, cancellation seemed like the only option left open to organizers.
Hopefully festival organisers can work out a compromise position so that the event can resume in 2023, bringing major musical stars to perform in Atlanta once again.
Do you think that music fans should be able to bring guns to large music festivals, regardless of what state law prevails? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.