Judge Won't Lift Gun Ban at the Airport
The city of Atlanta’s ban on guns at the world’s busiest airport will continue despite a new state law easing restrictions on carrying firearms in public.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob Monday rejected a request for a preliminary injunction against the ban filed by a gun-rights group.
GeorgiaCarry.org sued the city and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials last month after Mayor Shirley Franklin declared the airport a “gun-free zone” that would be exempt from a new law allowing Georgians with concealed-weapons permits to bring their guns into state parks, restaurants and onto public transportation.
A lawyer for the organization argued in federal court Monday that the General Assembly intended “public transportation” not only to include buses and trains but the portions of the airport outside of the security gates.
But Robert Kennedy, Hartsfield-Jackson's assistant general manager for operations, maintenance and security, testified that even the accidental discharge of a weapon in the security lines would wreak enough havoc to threaten public safety and grind the airport to a halt, delaying flights across the country.
“If a firearm went off, first you’re going to have a stampede,” he said. “Second, you’re going to freeze the airport.”
John Monroe, GeorgiaCarry’s lawyer, said such considerations could be part of a public-policy debate over allowing guns in an airport. But he said they are not relevant to whether the city should be able to arrest a firearms permit holder for carrying his weapon inside an airport when the legislature has declared that to be a legal activity.
“There’s no public interest in seeing people arrested who didn’t commit a crime,” he said.
But Shoob sided with lawyers for the city who argued that “public transportation” as stated in the law does not include airports.
“The law makes no mention of airports,” the judge said following a three-hour hearing. “The common, ordinary meaning of ‘public transportation’ does not include airports.’ ”