Legal News - Atlanta International Airport's Gun Ban Challenged

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A state representative claims the City of ordinance that prohibits people from carrying guns at Atlanta International Airport is unconstitutional. Georgia's HB 89, which took effect July 1, allows people with Georgia gun licenses to carry arms on "public transportation." State Rep. Timothy Bearden, who wrote HB 89, claims that "public transportation" includes the airport; the airport manager has threatened to arrest him if he tries it.

Bearden is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and a member of co-plaintiff Atlanta International is the nation's busiest airport.

Bearden says he is principal author of HB 89, which amended the state law that prohibited carrying of firearms in the airport (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-122 through 127). He claims HB 89 amended that bill to make it legal to pack heat in the airport. But Mayor Shirley Franklin and Airport Manager Benjamin DeCosta issued a "media advisory" on June 30, declaring the airport a "gun-free zone."

Not anymore, it isn't, says Bearden.

He claims DeCosta publicly threatened to have him falsely arrested, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a July 1 story, "I can identify [Rep. Bearden], and I'll have him arrested. ... We're not fooling around. This is a post-terrorism environment."

Bearden claims, "He would like to exercise his right to carry a firearm while in the nonsterile areas of the airport, but he is in fear of detention, search, arrest, and prosecution for doing so. Plaintiff Bearden intended to visit the airport on July 1, 2008 while legally armed, but he was deterred from doing so by defendant DeCosta's specifically targeting plaintiff Bearden for arrest."

He claims Georgiacarry has more than 1,600 members, "many of whom use the airport" and want to carry guns there.

He also claims that "militia," as used in the "militia clause" of the 2nd Amendment, "means all able bodied men." He says he's an able bodied man.

Bearden, a Republican real estate broker, represents Atlanta suburb Villa Rica.

He claims the city is violating the 2nd, 4th, and 14th Amendment. He is represented by John Monroe of Roswell, Ga.

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