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Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival Has Been Canceled Over Gun Laws

Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival Has Been Canceled Over Gun Laws

On Monday, Live Nation announced that it would be canceling Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, saying only it was “due to circumstances beyond our control.” But multiple sources report those “circumstances” are Georgia’s gun laws. The state’s Safe Carry Protection Act — or, as critics call it, the “Guns Everywhere” law — is specifically to blame.

In 2014, George’s legislature passed the law, which allows citizens to carry guns into far more places than the state formerly allowed — including bars, churches and, relevant to this story, publicly owned land like Piedmont Park, where Midtown is held. Since then, the state has generally allowed private businesses to enforce their own weapons bans, including people operating short-term private events on public property.

But in 2019, a decision from the Georgia Supreme Court meant short-term private events on public property could no longer enforce their own bans. Like many music festivals, Midtown has always had a weapons ban since, reportedly, many artists’ riders require such a ban before they agree to play. A gun rights advocate named Phillip Evans has reportedly led the charge to pressure Music Midtown into permitting guns at the festival, but seems to have succeeded in getting the festival shut down instead.

Live Nation only said that Music Midtown will not perform this year, meaning fans will miss out on hearing Jack White, My Chemical Romance, Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Future, Fall Out Boy and more. They may be able to find private property to host the event in time for a 2023 reschedule but, in the meantime, it’s definitely a victory for the gun lobby and may signal future complications for other festivals in states where gun rights are expanding.

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