July 3, 2008
Impatient with increased air fares, frequent flight delays, reduced service, increased security and long lines at the airport? Does the thought of your equally exasperated fellow travelers packing heat at the world’s busiest airport make you feel better about the situation? We thought not. And yet Georgia gun rights activists are suing the city of Atlanta on Second Amendment grounds in federal court, arguing that it’s legal for them to bring guns to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
A new Georgia state law took effect on Tuesday which allows people to carry firearms on public transportation (and in state parks and restaurants) if they have a concealed weapons permit. But Atlanta airport officials have declared Hartsfield-Jackson a “gun-free zone.” At a press conference, airport general manager Ben DeCosta said: “My message is simple: Leave your firearms at home.” Hartsfield representatives said that anyone packing heat at the airport would be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Freshman State Representative Tim Bearden (R-Villa Rica), a former policeman, authored the new law, House Bill 89. Both Bearden and GeorgiaCarry.org are plaintiffs in the concealed carry lawsuit. Bearden wrote on his website that HB 89 is the “biggest gun reform in Georgia’s history.”
Attorney John Monroe, who represents the plaintiffs, says that Hartsfield-Jackson qualifies as public transportation. Activists say weapons should be permitted in the terminal up to security checkpoints. Additionally, Monroe said that since there are restaurants at the airport, they should be accessible to gun-toting visitors. The Bearden lawsuit says that state law precludes local governments from regulating guns, and that the Hartsfield gun ban violates Second Amendment constitutional rights to bear arms. While state law prohibits weapons in the airport’s parking lots, it does allow firearms on MARTA buses and trains running directly to the airport.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin vehemently disagrees with Bearden and the other gun rights activists, arguing that airports are attractive terrorism targets, and saying that allowing guns in the airport terminal “would create an environment that would endanger millions of people.” She said she’ll lobby Congress to withhold federal funding from facilities which allow firearms on their premises.
In 2007, Hartsfield-Jackson served 89.4 million passengers and 994,346 flights. What do you think? Would it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that your fellow travelers could be carrying concealed firearms at the airport?
Read more airport security news.
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