Atlanta airport concealed weapons ban disputed in Federal court
A decision by Georgia legislators to relax the state’s gun laws has led to a dispute over whether people can legally carry concealed firearms in the nation’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.
A Georgia gun rights group filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Atlanta on Tuesday after airport officials said they would continue to enforce a ban on concealed weapons in the terminal despite the changes to the state law. The changes, which were approved by the Georgia legislature in the spring and took effect on Tuesday, relax the state’s prohibition on carrying weapons on public transportation and in some other areas, including restaurants serving alcohol.
“This is a matter of national significance,” Mayor Shirley Franklin told reporters at a news conference. Permitting guns inside an airport, even weapons carried by permit holders, would create an unsafe environment that “would endanger millions of people,” the mayor said.
Franklin vowed Tuesday to lobby Congress and federal officials to mandate that any public facility receiving federal money be declared a “gun-free zone.” That would affect airports nationwide.
The Georgia state law allowing civilians to carry concealed weapons on public transit, state parks, and restaurants has been highly controversial.
Still last week the Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle announced a new committee led by pro-National Rifle Association senators to study the state’s “complex firearms laws and recommend new legislation for the 2009 session.”
According to the resolution creating the study committee, it will “examine Georgia’s firearms law and the way these laws are applied in our state to ensure that the constitutional right to bear arms and the right to self-defense are properly protected.”