A federal judge ruled yesterday that people with gun licenses cannot carry concealed weapons in nonsecure areas of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob upheld the airport's decision to ban handguns from nonsecure areas, saying they could cause “serious threat to public safety and welfare," reports The New York Times.
A gun-rights group, Georgiacarry.org (GCO), argued a recently passed law gave them the right to carry concealed handguns in certain areas of the airport. The law, which went into effect July 1, gives people with gun licenses the right to carry a concealed weapon in state parks, restaurants that serve alcohol, and on mass transit. GCO argues that airports fulfill the description of mass transit and also contain restaurants.
The squabble over whether concealed weapons could be brought into the world's busiest airport began when its general manager told the law's sponsor, state Representative Timothy Bearden, that if he brought his gun to the airport he would be arrested.
At the hearing yesterday, the airport's assistant general manager in charge of operations said in today's post-9-11 environment a gun discharging in public parts of the airport could cause mass panic, including a "stampede."
The issue, however, is not dead. Judge Shoob's ruling only prevents gun owners with permits from carrying a concealed weapon into the airport while GCO's lawsuit makes its way through the courts.