Is an Open Carry Event a Public Gathering?

Discussion in 'GA Laws and Politics' started by Malum Prohibitum, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    The question is contained in the title . . .
     
  2. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Interesting. Isn't the main purpose of an open carry "event" is to express one's self and garner support for a political position? In that regard, open carrying is an expression of an idea, and, hence, arguably, constitutionally-protected speech (such as burning a flag or camping out on the open area of the plaza of the federal courthouse in Atlanta). Could it be that there is a FIRST amendment right to carry? It may take a declaratory judgment action in the aforementioned federal courthouse to find out.
     

  3. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    The criminal trespass thread and the quotes therein are illuminating in this regard, but I find it reprehensible that one would have to go to court or risk arrest to make use of the First Amendment (and the Second).

    I take it you concur that an open carry event probably would violate OCGA 16-11-127 (the First Amendment issue really is a separate question relating to the validity of 127)?
     
  4. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Given the history of public gathering jurisprudence, I am hesitant even to guess about the outcome of a hypothetical. But, I do think the risk of prosecution for carrying to an open carry event is more than minimal. The risk of conviction also is more than minimal. Given that, someone contemplating an open carry event might very well want to engage in a peremptory strike against such prosecution by seeking the declaratory judgment I mentioned.

    While I agree with you that it should not be necessary to have to do this, the reality of the situation is that it may be the prudent thing to do.
     
  5. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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  6. seajay

    seajay NRA Certified Instructor

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    Wouldn't it fall under the exception clause? Since it is a gun event I think guns would be permitted. After all a gun show is a public gathering. The one where we first met was also held in a publicly (Government) owned building.

    ???
     
  7. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    A gun show may or may not qualify as a public gathering. Admission is charged, so it is not open to the general public (under some public gathering cases).

    But, if a gun show is a public gathering, it does not necessarily follow that, just because it is a gun show, people can carry there.
     
  8. seajay

    seajay NRA Certified Instructor

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    A gun show is a special event that charges admission and is open to the general pubic. Such is a baseball game, football game, basketball game or hocky game held in the same buildings. There must be some exception someplace for gun events to be exempt from the public gathering clause as it relates to carrying.
     
  9. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    jrm - what case law addresses whether admission is charged? I have looked carefully for this, but I have been unable to find it. That would be very helpful caselaw, if it exists.
     
  10. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Seajay, most gunshows do not allow people to shoot, so there is no applicable exception.
     
  11. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    OCGA 16-11-127(c)

    "This Code section shall not apply to competitors participating in organized sport shooting events. "

    :wink:
     
  12. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    MP, I don't recall the specific case (or was it an AG opinion?) that brought up the admission matter. I'll look for it and either post it or eat crow for making it up.
     
  13. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks. Even an AG opinion would be useful.
     
  14. seajay

    seajay NRA Certified Instructor

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    I knew it wouldn't fall under the sport shooting section. I was just trying to relate it to an open carry event. I also know that charging admission is not a prerequisite for a public gathering. However special events at theaters are considered public gatherings while just attending the movie is not. A gun show is a special event where the public gathers. It appears that open carry with or without a permit is permitted at a gun show as well.
     
  15. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    MP,

    Okay, I'll take a nominal serving of crow. I searched for the authority re admission charges, and all I found were these statements by other members, which cited no authority other than anecdotal:

    Broadside Bob wrote:

    BTW, I've read somewhere that movie theaters are not considered public gatherings as admission is charged (the logic being that you are paying to see the movie, not gathering as a group); therefore, movies are legal - save any that serve alcohol (Buckhead Backlot, the one on Roswell Rd. in Sandy Springs that used to be Sandy Springs Parkside, etc.). Therefore, if alcohol were not served, I'd think The Fox would be OK.

    Attach usual disaclaimer here; I'm not a lawyer, etc..

    BB


    That's the way I have heard it put by a few LEO's working security at the theater I used to work at. One in particular was familiar with the AG opinion on public gatherings and said that the focus has to be on the event or function that the public is gathering for. Since a movie (by his own opinion) was not an event or function and the theater was only providing a service, it did not constitute a gathering of the public. It was also negated by the fact that admission was charged to get it, thus the public could not gather anyway since you had to have a ticket to even get inside the theater.
     
  16. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, thanks for looking, anyway.
     
  17. seajay

    seajay NRA Certified Instructor

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    Wouldn't the same hold true of a concert then? Or a football game? You are paying to watch the band or the game. Not to gather as a group.
     
  18. john

    john New Member

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    public carry

    what if we had a gun active wear show and have no fee to enter. show the porper ways to carry for comfort and style.
     
  19. ICP_Juggalo

    ICP_Juggalo Professional Troll

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    If you noticed all those events you mentioned either; a) take place in a public building, b) take place in an establishment that is licensed to serve alcoholic beverages, or c) both. Which would make them off limits by their own definitions in 16-11-127.

    A movie theater, on the other hand, is in a privately owned building and 98% isn't licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. And since a person is required to pay an admission charge before they can even enter the premises, there is really no way for the public to gather and this leads me to the AG's opinion to where he states that the focus should be on the place and not the fact that people are just gathered in large numbers. What singular event is going on at the theater that would cause people to gather for? A movie you say? But surely a movie is not an event? You're patronizing an establishment that is selling a product and/or a service that is really no different than what you can get from a video store. So does that mean that a video store is off limits too? They show movies in there. What about people gathered at a storefront waiting for the place to open so they can take advantage of the big 6am sale? Surely that is an event!? Atleast the establishment advertises it as a big event anyway...

    You can bet that is gonna be my defense IF I am ever arrested and prosecuted for carrying into a movie theater. After working in a movie theater and seeing what goes on, I'll never go into another one un-armed ever again, legal or not. And after working in retail and seeing how animal-like people are when it comes to the after Thanksgiving day sales, I'll never work in retail again un-armed, legal or not.
     
  20. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Widen the Exception

    It looks like what we should hope for is to have the law, the black-and-white statute, "interpreted" by the Courts to create an exception for gun-related lawful gatherings other than actual marksmanship competitions. This would include gun shows, gun training classes and safety classes, historical displays of arms at a museum or as a demonstrative visual aid during a lecture, etc. Anytime people gather for an event where the primary purpose is to view, handle, or lawfully use a weapon, and where the character of the event would be substantially altered if no weapons were allowed, THAT should be viewed as a "sport shooting event."

    We can argue for such an interpretation by saying that it is absurd to narrowly interpret the law to only apply to actual shooting events, even though that seems to be the plain meaning of the words used. The fact that our society ALREADY engages in these activities, without any thought of prosecution, indicates that the law has never been intended to apply to gun shows, etc.

    But I don't think we can expect the Court to allow "open carry rallies" as part of the "sport shooting" exception in the law. Open carry is mostly about self-defense, not sport. And at an "open carry" event, the whole point is to display your guns to the public and confront them with the image of a bunch of armed citizens among them, even if they are not comfortable with such an image. And how would you distinguish an open carry rally from the kind of Second-Amendment rallies that the Black Panthers used to hold in the late 1960s? They were legal under the law as it existed then, but when the Panthers pulled that stunt more than once or twice in the same state, those states would change their laws to criminalize that type of conduct (which the Supreme Court had long ago ruled they could, per the Presser or Crushiank (sp?) case from the 1870s.

    Sure, getting rid of the current "public gatherings" law and replacing it with a much more narrowly-worded one would be the IDEAL solution, but barring that, we'd better hope to have some influence with the courts when they are asked to make caselaw that interprets the current statute.
    Some recognized gun-rights organization (NRA?) may want to file a "friend of the court" brief to advocate this position-- we wouldn't want to let the case be decided on appeal based only on the brief of one defense attorney whose only interest is to help his client win this one time, under those specific facts.