Music Midtown has been a part of Georgia’s music festival scene since 1994, but due to the expansion of the “Safe Carry Protection Act” in a 2019 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, it made it all but impossible to put on the event safely as noted by festival organizers. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams warned about the potential economic fallout of losing the festival. She also took jabs at her opponent, current Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, and his advocacy for the gun law, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
The festival is said to bring $20 million in direct spending and another $30 million in direct economic impact to Georgia annually. Not having the festival happen for even one year would be a big blow to the state. Places like North Carolina have already been making a play for the festival to come there instead.
“Brian Kemp’s dangerous and extreme gun agenda endangers the lives of Georgians, and the cancellation of Music Midtown is proof that his reckless policies endanger Georgia’s economy as well,” Abrams said. “It’s shameful, but not surprising, that the governor cares more about protecting dangerous people carrying guns in public than saving jobs and business in Georgia.”
“In dire economic times for so many Georgians, this cancellation will cost Georgia’s economy a proven $50 million,” she said. “This means that small businesses and workers who rely on events like Music Midtown and their tremendous economic impact have now lost incomes that help put food on the table and a roof over their heads.”
Throughout her campaign, Abrams has advocated for universal background checks and red flag laws. In February, the Georgia Senate passed a law that no longer requires a license to carry a handgun in public. The Georgia Supreme Court ruling in 2019 created a problematic gray area for private events to restrict open carry for short terms events on private land. This provision could make it more challenging for Music Midtown to come back or for music festivals to be in Georgia at all.
“That’s why this law is so dangerous. It allows dangerous people to carry weapons. It limits the ability of law enforcement to support the small businesses and the workers in those communities,” she said. “And it makes it difficult to meet legal obligations for a contractor to say that they can protect those who are performing in a concert, performing in a play, or simply setting up an outdoor festival.”