Actually, it is worse than you think, and the link above does not really address your first question (although it answers the second one nicely). Yes, since the airport is publicly owned it is a public gathering, but things are far
worse than that. You see, there is a separate law for airports. Violation of the public gathering clause is a misdemeanor. Violation of the laws relating to mass transit is a felony
, which can be 10 to 20 years in prison depending on whether you did not notice the metal detector and walked around it (and therefore "avoided" a security device). See O.C.G.A. 16-12-127 (notice it is in chapter 12, not chapter 11). See O.C.G.A. 16-11-123(b).
What is really interesting in that last link is that the minimum sentence for hijacking
(16-12-123(a)) is the same
as peaceably carrying a weapon or even having one in your glovebox. The maximum sentence for "avoiding a security measure" and making it onto a Marta train is the same as the maximum sentence for actually hijacking
the stupid train!
Moreover, if you look at the definition of what is a "terminal," in O.C.G.A. 16-12-122, it includes not only the terminal, but the parking lots
. In other words, for purposes of the state law, there is no real difference between having a gun in your glovebox while parked and carrying it into the airport building. While we need to research case law to determine whether the public gathering provision includes parking lots, the mass transit law states it plainly in the statute. Parking lots are verboten fur pistolen.
Why is this the law here in Georgia? 87% of states that are "shall issue" with respect to firearms licenses allow carry onto mass transit! Look here: Public Transportation National Map
Green means one can carry on public transportation. Red means one cannot. Black means the state is not shall issue, but many of those states do not criminalize carry onto public transportation, either. California, for instance, is black, but I do not believe they have a law banning carry on public transportation.
Georgia, in contrast, slaps you in prison for 1-10 or 1-20 for having a gun in the parking lot or even near a bus stop
or carrying past a metal detector. Did you know about the bus stop
felony? Read the definition of terminal in O.C.G.A. 16-11-122 closely, and you will see it includes a "reasonable distance" adjacent to a designated stop as well as parking lots. Click here for the statute.
The General Assembly really needs to repeal this asinine law.