For the second time, the Supreme Court of Georgia took up a case involving the right to openly carry a firearm at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (“The Garden”). Again, the case has been returned to the lower court.
This recent decision in Georgiacarry.org., Inc., et al. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc. results from a lawsuit first filed in 2014. The lawsuit, brought by gun rights advocates GeorgiaCarry.Org, alleges that The Garden’s ban on firearms is unconstitutional. While The Garden cites O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, a law that gun bans are lawful on private property, the suit argues that the Botanical Garden is public property leased to a private entity.
The case went to the Supreme Court of Georgia the first time after the trial court initially dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed, and the Supreme Court agreed that the case was improperly dismissed. Therefore, the Supreme Court of Georgia remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
After the first remand, the trial court ruled against the plaintiff by deciding that The Garden has the right to prohibit firearms on its own premises. However, on appeal, Georgia’s highest court again sided with the gun group. According to a decision issued in October of 2019, the Court agreed the trial court should have heard the case instead of disposing of it through a summary judgment motion. The ruling was based in part on the fact that the lease between the City of Atlanta and The Garden was not in evidence. According to the opinion, the terms of the lease should be considered in determining whether The Garden may ban firearms. The Court specifically held,
“In this case, because the City is a public entity, if it is the holder of the present estate, then the leased premises is not private property within the meaning of the statute because property owned by a municipality is not “private property.” If the City thus owns the property, then the Garden has no right to exclude the carrying of firearms on the leased premises because it is not ‘in legal control of private property through a lease.’ If, on the other hand, by the terms of the 50-year lease with the City, the Garden holds the present estate in the property, then the property is ‘private property,’ the Garden is a ‘private owner,’ and it had the right to exclude Evans from carrying a firearm on the premises.”
The trial court will have a chance to determine the outcome of this case in the future. It is safe to assume the Georgia Supreme Court could have another say, as well.
Open Carry and Shooting Injuries
While the right to openly carry a firearm is a hot-button political topic, there is no debating the devastation that can occur from a gunshot wound. Firearms have the potential to lead to a large number of fatal injuries in a small amount of time. However, they also commonly result in serious but non-fatal injuries. While the amount of research around open carry and its impact on gun violence has only just begun, many anti-gun groups suggest loosening gun laws correlate to more shooting injuries. Other groups such as The Heritage Foundation dispute that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher rates of violent crime.
Shooting Injuries and Civil Lawsuits
If you have suffered injuries following a shooting, you could have a viable injury claim against several parties. First, the person responsible for shooting could face civil liability in addition to criminal charges. Whether the shooting was intentional or an act of negligence, you could have legal recourse against that person.
In addition to the shooter, Georgia law allows civil claims against property owners and occupiers when the shooting is the result of inadequate security measures. If you suffered shooting injuries on the property of another person, there is a chance you could have a negligent security claim against the property owner or manager. If the owner or occupier was aware of the increased risk of violent crime on the property and did not take steps to stop it, you could have a claim against them for failing to adequately protect you.
How a Gun Injury Lawyer Could Help a Shooting Victim
Williams Elleby attorneys have developed a reputation for defending the legal rights of shooting victims throughout Georgia. Regardless of whether the shooter or a careless property owner was at fault, our team can help you determine whether you have a viable case. To learn more, give us a call at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule your free consultation.