Tens of thousands of Music Midtown festival goers no longer will descend on Atlanta’s massive Piedmont Park next month to cheer on hip-hop star Future or watch beloved rock band My Chemical Romance take the stage. In fact, some people are convinced Atlanta — center of the nation’s hip-hop scene — will lose more music festivals and performances on public land as organizers and artists learn that state law makes it nearly impossible for them to stop people from carrying guns among the alcohol-fueled crowds. That prospect has ignited a new fight over gun rights in Georgia that is roiling the governor’s race, casting a shadow over Atlanta’s vaunted music scene and adding to tension between the city and state, the Associated Press reports. Live Nation has refused to say why it called off September’s Music Midtown, a fixture for pop music lovers.
News outlets, citing anonymous sources, attributed last week’s announcement to a 2019 Georgia Supreme Court decision that outlined limits on the ability of private companies to ban guns on public property. The ruling stemmed from a 2014 state law that expanded the locations where guns were allowed. Democrats, led by gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, pounced on the news, casting the cancellation as an example of the sort of economic fallout the state would experience from Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s “extreme gun agenda.” Though the gun law cited in reports about Music Midtown was enacted under Kemp’s Republican predecessor, Kemp was a key backer of a new state law this year that eliminated the need for a license — and with it, a background check — to carry a handgun in public. Beyond the immediate fallout, the fight added to a disconnect between Georgia’s heavily Democratic capital city and the GOP-controlled state legislature that has expanded gun rights and restricted abortion and voting access.