Pro-Gun Activist Who Got Music Midtown Canceled Says He’ll Challenge Georgia Amphitheaters Next
Earlier in August, the Atlanta music festival Music Midtown was canceled due to Georgia gun laws, aka the Safe Carry Protection Act, a law rebranded by critics as the “Guns Everywhere” law, which allows people to carry guns in bars, churches, schools, private businesses (when permitted by owners), and on publicly owned land like Piedmont Park, where Music Midtown takes place. A Georgia-based gun-rights activist named Phillip Evans originally challenged the festival’s weapons ban, writing on his blog that he contacted Live Nation president Peter Conlon saying that the ban is impossible to enforce. Evans also posted on Music Midtown’s Facebook page, encouraging ticketholders to file a lawsuit against Live Nation “for their stated intent to infringe upon your rights.” Now, in a new interview with Billboard, Evans says he would challenge Live Nation’s overall weapons policy in its Georgia amphitheaters.
Describing himself as a “hardcore music fan” who thinks Live Nation has to “abide by a law,” Evans says he will continue to challenge weapons bans in Georgia and wouldn’t rule out showing up to events armed: “For a long time now there have been various pop acts and ’70s acts that I’ve wanted to see,” he says. “So I do plan at some point to challenge that, because I really do want to go to one of those concerts and to maintain my right of self-defense.”
When asked if he could understand how many potential concertgoers may view his carrying a gun to shows as a safety threat, Evans says: “It might not be solvable for certain people because some people have such a fear of weapons and they’re terrified when they see someone with a weapon,” he says. “Because their terror exists even onto themselves, because they’re afraid of a gun in their own hands. They’re afraid that, ‘Well, if I have a gun and I get mad while driving, I might shoot somebody.’ They’re projecting that irrational fear of causing harm to others.”
As Vulture points out, Evans’ challenge was successful against Music Midtown, which was supposed to take place in September, because their event holds a short-term lease in a public space. An Amphitheater poses more of a challenge, though, as those venues hold long-term leases; in 2019, Evans came after the Atlanta Botanical Garden in the same park, but the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the Garden could enforce a guns ban because of its long-term lease.