U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- The attorney who was successful in persuading the Georgia Supreme Court to send a gun rights case back to the lower courts has put the Atlanta Falcons on notice that its ban on guns is not permitted under state law.
“In light of the Court’s ruling, the Falcons may not prohibit firearms at Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” John Monroe, writing on behalf of his clients, GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc., wrote on Oct. 22 to Michael J. Egan III, Senior Vice President and General Counsel.
The ruling Monroe referred to is from Georgia Carry’s complaint against Atlanta Botanical Garden. The issue is that while private property owners may ban customers from bringing guns onto their premises, entities that lease public property may not do so.
“The case stems from an incident involving Phillip Evans, a firearms license holder from Gwinnett County, who was escorted off the grounds of the Atlanta Botanical Garden for bringing a gun in the holster of his waistband,” the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported. After a series of back-and-forths with the lower courts over the past five years that resulted in the Georgia Court of Appeals upholding the gun ban, “the state Supreme Court declared the Court of Appeals should not have dismissed the lawsuit by summary judgment rather than considering the merits of the case.”
“[T]here are an awful lot of leases of public property out there, and I'm wondering if each one must be litigated. I suppose so it would seem,” Evans wrote on his Pursuit of Patriotism blog. “Four times the word, ‘private’ was inserted before ‘property’ in the weapons law (OCGA 16-11-127), in order to ensure that local governments could not do an end-run around state preemption by leasing public property to a private entity. Looks pretty clear, right?”
“I understand that the Stadium is owned by the Georgia World Congress Authority and Licensed to the Atlanta Falcons Stadium Company as a usufruct,” attorney Monroe explained to Egan. “Based on that information, it is a violation of Georgia law for the Falcons to ban holder of Georgia weapons carry licenses (‘GWLs’) from carrying weapons at the Stadium.
“I am writing to request that you eliminate your policy so that this matter may be resolved without litigation,” Monroe concluded. “I request a response by November 1, 2019.”
Expect the response to reflect the Falcons’ and the NFL’s utter hostility to guns in private hands. After all, we’re talking about a league that bans its own personnel from having the means of defense in “workplace settings.” The NFL allows its licensed trademarks to be used to promote fan disarmament. The NFL and the Falcons reiterate their distrust of those who pay the bills by making them carry clear plastic bags into the stadium. And in a move that can only politely be described as “ironic,” the NFL hired former ATF Director (and Fast and Furious lead apparatchik) B. Todd Jones as counsel for player misconduct.
“Things are looking up for liberty here in Georgia,” gun owner Evans, optimistic from his win, tells AmmoLand Shooting Sports News. “Let's just hope the Georgia General Assembly has the fortitude to allow liberty to continue to bloom, and not pour any poison on it.”
As he implies, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
I’d expect the Falcons and the NFL to marshal all the resources they can to fight this in the courts and to press for legislative change. In the meantime, I sure wouldn’t be the one to try and test Mercedes-Benz Stadium security, but then again, why any gun owner would pay for the “privilege” of swapping unalienable rights for trivial bread and circuses is something I have never grokked in the first place.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.