News
Aug 1, 2022

Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival Cancelled After Court Ruling Made It Illegal to Keep Guns Out of Event

Politics are crossing into entertainment and the public’s ability to enjoy a show. With past mass shootings at concerts it comes as no surprise that Atlanta’s Midtown Music Festival was cancelled, will new open carry laws see the death of music festivals across the U.S.?

Jack White/ Image Credit: LEON NEAL/GETTY IMAGES

The Music Midtown festival at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, scheduled for Sept. 17-18 with headliners My Chemical Romance, Future, Jack White and Fallout Boy, has been called off, according to a statement issued by festival organizers. Many music insiders are sighting open-carry issues behind closed doors. Festival organizers found themselves unable to provide safety to attendees with state gun mandates making Atlanta a safe haven for possible mass shootings at a festival.

“Hey Midtown fans — due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year,” a statement posted on Music Midtown’s website reads. “We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.”

While the festival’s owner Live Nation didn’t provide any additional details for the cancellation, pro-gun rights groups had been emailing and posting comments of the festival’s social media page for several months, hinting at potential legal challenges from gun 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 Carry Protection Act” — expanded Georgia’s already permissive gun statutes to grant residents the right to pack heat in churches, schools, bars and other private businesses with the owners’ permission. It also expanded gun carry rights on publicly owned land, like the city-owned Piedmont Park, although there was no legal consensus on whether or not the law applied to private events on city property, like Midtown Music. As part of the 2019 ruling, Georgia’s high court set a test for how the Safe Carry Protection Act was to be enforced by private businesses using public land. Businesses and groups that held certain types of long-term leases for state-owned land could legally bar guns, while businesses with shorter-term leases could not. While the ruling favored the Botanical Garden, it created legal issues for festivals like Music Midtown that held short-term leases for city park sites. 

Gun rights groups are also refining their own strategies for expanding gun-carry rights into concerts and festivals, and have begun identifying other Georgia events and venues on public land to test the boundaries of Georgia’s gun laws.  

*Parts of this original story were first reported on Billboard.com