Atlanta loses major music festival, partially due to security concerns and fights over gun control

ATLANTA — Downtown Atlanta is losing a major music festival, seemingly due in part to the fight over gun control.

Georgia law says guns cannot be banned on public property, and for the organizers of SweetWater 420 Fest, it appears that was too great of a risk.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

“Guns have no place at music festivals. They just don’t,” said Chandler Darnall, a music festival fan who also used to work security at festivals.

She’s not surprised that SweetWater 420 Fest is leaving downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Park, partially because of security concerns.

“It’s totally reasonable that an event like that would want to control whether lethal weapons are allowed inside,” said Darnall.

The Georgia law means festivals like 420 Fest can’t stop people from bringing in firearms to Centennial Park.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon said SweetWater brewery released the following statement:

“Several factors played into this decision, the most important being the safety of our festival goers.” The statement went on to say, “Firearms and weapons of any kind will be prohibited at the event, and SweetWater will strictly enforce this policy.”

We also talked with John Monroe, vice president of GA2A, a group in Georgia that fights for gun rights.

“The whole point of the law is to make sure people can carry on public property, and if an event organizer wants to be able to prohibit firearms, then in order to comply with state law it needs to have the event on private property,” said Monroe.

While the law was passed in 2014, it didn’t come to the attention of festival organizers until last year.


Sources told Channel 2 the same concern led to the cancellation of last year’s Music Midtown Festival in Piedmont Park.

Now, it’s impacting another festival, but Monroe says he doesn’t understand organizers’ concerns.

“If they’re worried about shootings at their events, it would seem they would want to have people carry in there so that they can defend themselves,” said Monroe.

This year’s 420 Fest at the brewery, will now be a much smaller event. For more information, click here.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]


Comments on this article