Politics, policy and public safety: Experts explain why a popular Atlanta festival was canceled

Politics, policy and public safety: Experts explain why a popular Atlanta festival was canceled

August 3, 20222 min read

A sad tune is being hummed in Atlanta, where it was announced the popular annual Music Midtown festival is not happening, possibly in part due to the state’s laws surrounding guns in public parks.

The event's cancellation, which brought tens of thousands of music lovers to the city -- along with the tourism dollars they spend -- has caused disappointment and drawn local and national media coverage.

Calling it a “sad day” for the city, Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman wrote on Twitter that: “Public policy has real impacts and, in this case, economic and social implications on a great tradition.”

And state Democrats chastised Republicans for adopting a raft of pro-gun legislation, including a 2022 law that allows Georgians to carry concealed handguns without first getting a license from the state.

The governor, who is seeking a second term, did not immediately comment on the festival’s decision. But state Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Jasper Republican who sponsored the 2014 law, said the measure is designed with public safety in mind.

He said those intent on “causing chaos and crime in Georgia” won’t care if the festival bans firearms and would try to bring them in regardless.

“Good Georgians who can qualify for a permit and carry a weapon do so to protect themselves from that element in our society,” he said.  -- The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Aug. 1, 2022

Organizers of events like Music Midtown could look at Georgia’s gun laws and regulation of firearms as a potential legal liability. If there is a firearms incident, organizers may fear being held legally accountable and sued for any potential damages. The companies and their risk management advisors might think twice about holding large events in Georgia.

Augusta University's Dr. William Hatcher, an expert when it comes to public administration and social, economic and political institutions in local communities, agrees that event organizers might be rethinking their plans in the state.

"Yes. I think so. These types of laws have an impact on the economy and the business decisions of firms. We may see future effects on the economic behavior of individuals and firms."

This topic could have further economic impact beyond canceled events, including affecting property values and home prices.

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Dr. William Hatcher is a professor of political science and chair of Augusta University’s Department of Social Sciences. He is an expert in the areas of public administration and social, economic and political institutions.

Hatcher is available to speak with media regarding this topic. To arrange an interview today, simply click on his icon now.

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  • William Hatcher, PhD, MPA
    William Hatcher, PhD, MPA Chair of the Department of Social Sciences

    Dr. William Hatcher focuses on public administration and social, economic and political institutions in local communities.

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