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 cancelled, according to a statement issued by festival organizers. . Likely cause, say industry sources Billboardare recent changes in Georgia gun laws that prevent the festival from banning guns on publicly owned festival grounds.
“Hello 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 getting together in September and hope that we can all enjoy the festival together again soon.”
While owner Live Nation did not provide additional details about the cancellation, gun rights groups had been emailing and posting comments on the festival’s social media page for several months, hinting at potential legal trouble. challenges from armed groups following a 2019 ruling that expanded a 2014 Georgia law that critics had dubbed the “Guns Everywhere” law.
That law, officially known as the “Safe Transportation Protection Act,” expanded Georgia’s already permissive gun statutes to give residents the right to pack heat at bars, churches, schools and other private businesses with the permission of the owners. It also expanded gun rights on publicly owned land, such as city-owned Piedmont Park, though there was no legal consensus on whether or not the law applied 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 publicly owned land. Five years earlier, a Georgia gun rights group filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Botanical Garden after one of its members was briefly detained for attempting to openly bring a holstered pistol to the garden, which is on publicly owned land. .
As part of the 2019 ruling, the Georgia high court set a test on how private companies using public land were required to enforce the Safe Transportation Protection Act. Companies and groups that had certain types of long-term leases on state-owned land could legally ban guns, while companies with shorter-term leases could not. While the ruling favored the Botanical Garden, it created legal problems for festivals like Music Midtown that had short-term leases for city parks.
The festival, launched in 1996 by Atlanta-based music promoters alex cooley, Pedro Conlón Y alex hoffman, had long prohibited attendees from bringing weapons to the event. In general, most major companies will not host a festival in a location that allows gun owners to bring their guns to an event, with the exception that it is sometimes done for law enforcement. Some artist bikers actually have specific language that says the artist will not perform in cities or states where gun laws give attendees the right to carry weapons inside a concert venue.
While the Georgia Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling made it difficult for private businesses to deny licensed and armed citizens access to events on publicly owned land, it did not give the city of Atlanta the authority to enforce this decision. or force the festival to allow weapons into the event. Instead, the law created a path for people carrying weapons, who had also purchased festival tickets, to successfully sue event organizers if they were denied entry to an event taking place on public property.
Additionally, local authorities are often 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 to no backing in keeping firearms out.
Canceling the 2022 festival gives Live Nation an additional year to weigh its options and potentially move the event to private land or push the state legislature to update the law when it’s back in session.
Gun rights groups are also refining their own strategies to expand gun rights at concerts and festivals and have begun identifying other Georgia events and venues on public lands to test the limits of Georgia’s gun laws.