Court says Atlanta Botanical Garden can prohibit guns – MyAJC

The Georgia Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the Atlanta Botanical Garden can ban guns from its property even though the land is leased from a public entity, the City of Atlanta.

The decision comes springs from a lawsuit the gun rights group brought on behalf of a Gwinnett County man who was told he had to leave his guns at home when he and his family visited the garden in Midtown Atlanta.

It was released on the same day students nationwide walked out of classes to show their support for greater gun restrictions in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot and killed 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day, using a semi-automatic rifle he bought legally.

RELATED: Georgia law allows mentally ill to buy guns after five years

AND: Legislature may tighten gun laws

The legal issue in Georgia hinged on whether the garden — which sits on land owned by the city of Atlanta — is a publicly-owned entity or private property. State law allows guns to be carried on public property, with some exceptions. But the law says firearms can be banned on private property.

The three-judge panel said the Georgia Supreme Court had long-held that it is who leases property, not the lessor, that determines private v. public. In this case, the garden is a private entity.

The case began in August 2014, when Phillip Evans called the botanical garden to ask about the weapons’ policy concerning just a month after a new Georgia law took effect. That law expanded the places guns were allowed to include almost everywhere the public could go with some exceptions — courthouses, jails and and government buildings that have certified peace officers screening people as they come in.

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