Iconic Music Festival Canceled Over Concerns Stemming From Concealed Carry Gun Law
Atlanta's Music Midtown will not be taking place this year after a 2019 Georgia court ruling provided a possible legal challenge to the event's long running ban against guns. Part of the issue stems from the fact that the festival is taking place on the publicly-owned Piedmont Park festival grounds, with gun carry rights now being granted on publicly-owned land.
The event was set to be held Sept. 17-18, with the reunited My Chemical Romance, Jack White, Fall Out Boy, A Day to Remember, Turnstile and plenty more set to perform over the two day, weekend event.
In a statement to festival goers officials commented, "Hey Midtown fans – due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year. We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon."
Refunds are expected to be automatically processed within the next 24 hours via the original method of payment, while it may take 7-10 business days for the refund to be processed by a bank. The full statement can be viewed below.
While the Music Midtown statement did not make mention of the reasoning for the cancellation, industry sources revealed to Billboard that the change to Georgia's gun laws could leave organizers in danger of legal action for preventing "safe carry" gun owners with tickets from entering the festival with their guns as the event is taking place on publicly owned grounds.
Billboard revealed that pro-gun rights groups had been emailing and posting comments to the festival's social media for months, hinting at a legal challenge for festival organizers after a 2019 ruling expanded the 2014 Georgia law that critics had dubbed the "Guns Everywhere" law.
Officially known as the "Safe Carry Protection Act," the ruling now grants residents that right to carry guns in bars, churches, schools and other private businesses with the owner's permission. It also allows for gun carry rights on publicly owned land, such as the Piedmont Park where the Music Midtown festival was scheduled to be held. No legal consensus had been made concerning private events held on the publicly owned land, but the 2019 ruling brought to light that a challenge could be made.
Part of the 2019 ruling relates to how the Safe Carry Protection Act would be enforced by private businesses on public land. Businesses with long-term leases on state-owned land were allowed to bar guns, while those with short-term leases were not. Though Music Midtown was launched in 1996 and has been an ongoing event, their lease is a short-term lease for the city park site.
While Music Midtown has long barred guns from their event, the ruling has now opened the door for gun-carrying individuals who purchased tickets to file suit against the organizers if denied entry. So, with it seeming that pro-gun rights groups were ready to challenge the gun ban, festival organizers opted instead to cancel this year's festival while re-evaluating how they would proceed with the event in future years.