Saturday, February 25, 2017

Macon Cherry Blossom Festival - Gun Ban Legal? © 2017 Phillip Evans

UPDATE!!! - The article below is now moot.

Vice President Campbell just now emailed me there will be no signs banning weapons at the park, and that they will be following state law!!!

Let's give them your support, and may they have a great festival this year!


Attending the Macon-Bibb International Cherry Blossom Festival this year at Central City Park?

Licensed to carry? Want to carry your holstered firearm either openly or concealed?


Photo by Glenn Grossman,

A Cherry Blossom official told me over the phone they could ban guns because it is a "private event". However, the law says nothing about "private events", but rather points to property ownership.

For all the juicy details of the law, see the copy of the email below I just sent to Macon-Bibb Sheriff David Davis.

However, on its face, it is not even a "private event". All of the public is invited, and it is held at a public park, and no admission is charged to enter the park for the event, although nothing in Georgia law makes a distinction between free and paid events with regard to weapons carry.

Edit: They have free admission certain days and hours, and a paid ticket is required at other times.

Crystal Jones, senior assistant attorney for Macon-Bibb, back in 2014 after the passage of Georgia's HB 60 (Guns Everywhere Law), interpreted the law as follows:

"According to Jones’ reading, that’s no longer the case. The private operator of Macon’s Cherry Blossom Festival, held each year at a city park, can no longer bar concealed weapons. The private company operating the Macon-owned Centreplex can’t bar concealed weapons from concerts – which could send some entertainers elsewhere. 'We want to ensure the safety of our citizens, but at the same time we want to comply with the law,' she said." [bold mine]

So what happened between then and now
? ***

Somewhere along the line, Macon-Bibb Government got the wild hair that if Cherry Blossom organizers put up a fence around the park, and put up signs, that they could ban weapons from the public city owned park during the festival. That's exactly what they advised them, according to the young lady I spoke with recently at (478) 330-7050, the Cherry Blossom office.

However, nothing in state law authorizes banning weapons from public parks with the use of signs or fences.

And, to add insult to injury, they are not using metal detectors or searches to look for weapons! 

Do they really believe that the presence of a fence that people can freely walk through, and the presence of signs will keep armed bad guys out? Really?

Georgia has state preemption with regard to weapons, meaning that local governments are forbidden to regulate the possession and carrying of weapons. It is a matter reserved entirely to the state to determine weapons laws statewide.

However, if Macon-Bibb City Government, the Macon-Bibb Sheriff, and the International Cherry Blossom organizers can harass licensed citizens who are lawfully carrying their firearms with a trespass arrest on PUBLIC property, then our state preemption law is in peril of becoming just words on paper.

Here's my email to Macon-Bibb Sheriff David Davis:


Dear Sheriff Davis,

I'm writing you concerning the banning of lawfully carried weapons at the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival.

As you may know, HB 492 (Act 100 from May 6th, 2015) forbids any local government entity from using any means at all to regulate the possession and carrying of weapons, as Georgia has state preemption over the matter of the carry and possession of weapons.

Excluding citizens from public property who are lawfully carrying weapons by using signs, fencing, or even weapons screening is NOT permitted by state law UNLESS it is a building, and that building qualifies as a "government building" under OCGA 16-11-127 per HB 60 (Act 604 from April 23rd, 2014) - in addition that building must also have weapons screening under the oversight of certified law-enforcement in order to effect an arrest.

My understanding is that the city park is not a government building, and that weapons screening will not be conducted of entrants to the park.

Additionally, HB 60 changed the wording of the law from "persons in control of property" to "persons in control of private property" with regard to banning guns on property.

Laws must have a purpose - what do you suppose the purpose was in adding the word, "private", to the statute? Could it be that prior to the law, it could be understood that "persons in control of property" could refer to the control of either public or private property? It sounds reasonable, no?. So this new wording could then be understood as limiting "persons in control of property" to private property only.

Macon-Bibb advised the Cherry Blossom organizers that if they put up a fence around the park, and put up a sign, that they could ban weapons. Clearly, that is an unlawful means used by the city to regulate the possession and carrying of weapons in the city park, which HB 492 and HB 60 forbids.

Neither state law, nor Macon-Bibb, nor the Cherry Blossom organizers gives you the authority to exclude, eject, or arrest lawful carriers who either openly carry or conceal carry their lawful weapons at Central City Park during the festival, which is PUBLIC property, not private property.

A Cherry Blossom official told me over the phone they could ban guns because it is a "private event". However, the law says nothing about "private events", but rather points to property ownership, as I've pointed out above.

However, on its face, it is not even a "private event". All of the public is invited, and it is held at a public park.

You swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Georgia.

If you don't understand state law enough to have confidence in letting lawful carriers carry at the park during the festival, I respectfully suggest you do your own due diligent research.

Will you really arrest a lawful carrier at a public park merely for being armed and declining to disarm or leave?

A concealed carrier who enters the park could discreetly remove his jacket or outer shirt in order to peacefully open carry in the park to publicly assert his rights that he indeed can legally carry there, regardless of any posted signs or fences.

Actually, this email should not be necessary. You should already have the mindset to support the right of citizens to carry their weapons on public property without harassment from those who are supposed to uphold the law, and not violate it. But from what I have seen in your past remarks about weapons carry at the Cherry Blossom Festival, you do not.

I'm copying Macon-Bibb and Cherry Blossom officials on this email to see if they'd like to respond.

Will we be able resolve this without court action? I can tell you that if you arrest someone at the festival merely for exercising their rights, it will result in lawsuits against multiple parties, and much publicity. Do you all really want to go that route?

Best regards,

Phillip Evans


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Folks, the whole purpose of having state preemption to protect our rights is because the default action with most local government officials and Sheriffs is to deny our rights. They do so with phony excuses and made up rules and laws that are contrary to state law.

*** In Sept 2016 Fulton County Judge Gail Tusan ruled against me and Georgia Carry in our lawsuit against Atlanta Botanical Garden. That case is on appeal, and we are hopeful we will ultimately win it. Basically, Judge Tusan said that public property morphs into private property when leased by a private entity. ABG leased part of Piedmont Park to manage as a garden for the public to enjoy.

Macon-Bibb Attorney Crystal Jones cited that case in her email to me as to why weapons could be banned at Central City Park during the International Cherry Blossom Festival. Apparently, she admits that her understanding of the clear wording of state law was flawed back in 2014, and that Judge Tusan's ruling enlightened her.

However, prior to that ruling Macon-Bibb believed weapons could be banned in their public park during the festival.

They are now conveniently using the Fulton County ruling as an excuse, but what was their excuse before that?

Local governments will always try and find some weasel way to infringe on our rights. Both Macon-Bibb, Georgia and Fulton County, Georgia are bastions of Democrat power, with both the majority of the population and politicians being Democrats who despise liberty.

The Georgia General Assembly has its work cut out for it in tightening down state preemption to put a stop to all this nonsense. The only challenge should be the wording of the law, and not the will to get it done. Unfortunately, RINOs have infected our Legislature, and they're just as bad as the Democrats. So it looks like our true allies in the Legislature have some heavy lifting to do.


  1. Looks like officialdom in Georgia aren't much different from officialdom in Tennessee.

    Good job!

  2. Thanks Liston! Yep, unfortunately arrogance in government crosses state lines. Macon-Bibb government doesn't want anyone without a badge carrying in public parks at any time.