Gun laws in Georgia are not only helping right-wing extremists maintain control of their supremacist heritage, but also undermining the traditional music culture in Georgia. Earlier this month, Live Nation announced that the Music Midtown festival was canceled due to safety concerns thanks to new laws that allow guns to be carried in the public Piedmont Park.
They added what a shame it was as, “This festival has routinely contributed to Georgia’s economy as over 500,000 people attend each year.” College students throughout Georgia attend the festival each year and always want to go back.
The “Safe Carry Protection Act” law or as critics are calling it “guns everywhere bill” put in effect by Republican Governor Brian Kemp creates new gun safety loopholes that makes it easier for people to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public without a permit or background check. This legislation extended Georgia’s gun statutes and allows residents to be armed in bars, churches, schools and other private businesses with the owners permission. It also expanded gun carry rights on publicly owned land like Piedmont Park. The festival does not have the authority to override the law and enforce its own restrictions.
In general, most major companies will not host a festival in a location that permits gun owners to carry their weapons into an event, with an exception sometimes made for law enforcement. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, some artist riders actually have specific language saying that artists will not perform in cities or states where gun laws grant attendees the right to bring weapons inside of a concert venue. Additionally, local authorities are typically involved in security for large scale events and likely would not have been able to enforce a gun ban, so the festival would have had little to no backup to keep firearms out.
Personally, I believe that dangerous gun laws being the reason why a major event is canceled is unfair. I’ve attended plenty of concerts throughout the years and enjoyed knowing that I was completely safe because others could not carry weapons into the event space. I don’t want to have to watch my back at every turn because anyone – even the entertainers – could be carrying a gun.
They are opening the door to a situation ripe for violence. The worst thing that could happen would be for the person that thousands of people spent their money to see or one of the concertgoers gets hurt because of careless legislation.
According to USA Today, the Music Midtown website clearly stated that firearms were prohibited from the event. Canceling the 2022 festival gives Live Nation time to thoroughly plan and potentially move the event to privately held land or to even to join the fight to lobby the state legislature to update the law when it is back in session. Grassroots organizations like Georgia Coalition for Safer Communities are advocating for safer gun laws and have plenty of educational opportunities and volunteer opportunities to get involved.
Georgia has a history of weak gun safety laws. In 2017, Georgia began allowing people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. Georgia had the 15th-highest gun death rate in the country in 2020, and the ninth-highest gun export rate in the country because extremist lawmakers failed to pass laws to keep us safe.
With recent school, airport and church shootings, gun laws need more restrictions to prevent public threats and protect innocent people. While it’s disappointing that the festival was canceled, it is clear that safety is more important. Guns are extremely dangerous and if they don’t change this extremist policy, there will be more casualties than the music festival.