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· Lawyer and Gun Activist
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A close call

I think the "public gathering" law is vague, especially on the issue of parking lots. The Hubbard (1993) case, involving a gun in the parking lot of a place that served alcohol, is not particularly helpful. Not only was the parking lot in very close proximity to the building in which the drinking was going on, but people had independently gathered in the parking lot. Thus the parking lot itself became the scene of its own little public gathering, in addition to the booze being served inside the building.

At the Atlanta airport, all of the parking lots are a considerable distance from the airport terminal, and you have to cross a busy road / driveway to get into the terminal from the parking areas. That's not very close proximity, in my humble opinion.

For these same reasons, the early 1900s case involving the guy who had a bottle of booze in his horse-drawn wagon in the church parking lot is not very much on point to your question. It would be easy for a guy sitting in church to get up and pretend he's going to the bathroom, when really he sneaks out into the parking lot for some whiskey. That's not such a realistic scenario regarding the airport and its parking lot.

The Code section that defines a "transportation facility" to include the parking areas and any other place within a reasonable distance is troubling as to to MARTA system, but the airport is a terminal for air transportation, not busses or trains. So I'm not sure if that part of the Code even applies to the airport terminal. Maybe another part of O.C.G.A. addresses airport terminals?

But clearly, the intent of the Georgia Legislature has always been to allow civilians to carry guns in their own personal vehicles. This is allowed even without a permit, and even in school zones under our law. It has always been allowed, and the practice of carrying a gun in one's glove box or in plain view in one's car has long been approved of. It is difficult to imagine the legislature, while approving of vehicle carry of firearms for personal defense while in transit, would disarm citizens for the duration of their entire journey if any stop on their list of daily activities involved pulling into the parking lot of some business or public building that would qualify as a "public gathering."

I much more reasonable interpretation of the law, consistent with its intent and the balancing of liberty with public safety, would be to find that parking lots are generally not public gatherings simply because they are on the same property as the public gathering building or site itself, but they could be depending on how many people were gathered in the parking lot and what, if any, common purpose they had for gathering there.

This sort of ruling would not nullify the legislature's declaration that parking lots of a MARTA station are part of the transportation terminal-- it would just say that while MARTA parking lots are to be treated just like the inside of a MARTA terminal building for most purposes, they will not be treated as such when it comes to law-abiding citizens possessing legal guns (or legal prescription drugs for that matter) in their parked cars. This could still allow for MARTA cops to arrest people for stealing stereos out of parked cars on MARTA lots, and it would still support terrorism charges if somebody planted a bomb or poison gas dispenser in a MARTA parking lot, etc.
 

· Lawyer and Gun Activist
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30,197 Posts
MALUM's fast typing

Malum, you had not yet posted your response when I began typing mine, but you finished yours first. Now I see you have cited the applicable airport terminal law. Good job. Of course I'd like to see this stupid law repealed, or modified. But until that is done, I hope that if anybody is charged with having a gun in their car when parked near a bus station or airport terminal will vigorously fight against that interpretation of the law.

(Is it judicial activism for judges to hold that a law doesn't say literally what it says, but rather it says what it means-- what the legislature meant it to say? Maybe I'm advocating for judicial activism here?)
 

· Lawyer and Gun Activist
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30,197 Posts
School Zones

The school zone thing is a no-brainer. You cannot transport a weapon onto school property-- and school parking lots are school property. Unless you are dropping off or picking up a student there, or unless you fit some other exception in the law. But having a GFL does not give you any more right than any other Joe Blow Citizen in this regard, at least under State law.
 

· Lawyer and Gun Activist
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30,197 Posts
School Zones

Remember, if you violate the "public gatherings" law, 16-11-127, by carrying in a public building, it's a misdemeanor. And schools are public buildings. But schools (anything from a day-care center to a university research hospital probably qualifies) have their own law, 16-11-127.1, which makes it a FELONY. One law makes carrying in public schools a misdemeanor, and one makes it a felony.

Also, I don't think Gunstar is right about picking up your wife from school so long as you meet her "at the curb." I think your car tires need to stay off school property entirely. If you meet her on the public street within the 1000 foot school zone, and stay in transit, or otherwise have legitimate business in that zone, you're OK, but actually being on school property is different. But if you were picking up your kid, a student there, you could drive right up into the school parking lot. Maybe you could even get out and meet your kid inside the building, if you knew he or she was waiting for you, say, in the administration office or the school nurse's office. No, wait. On the other hand, although 16-11-127.1 has a "picking up a student" exception written into it, the "public gathering" law does not. So maybe if you bring a gun to a school gathering or inside a public school, you will have committed only a misdemeanor crime due to your meeting a bona-fide exception to the felony-level statute?

Could THAT have really been the intent of the legislature? Or did they intend to keep it perfectly legal to meet your kid and school and pick her up, even if you travel while armed?
 
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