August 12, 2008 in Nation/World

No guns at Atlanta airport, judge says

By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press

ATLANTA – A federal judge on Monday upheld a gun ban at the world’s busiest airport, dealing a blow to gun rights groups who argued a new Georgia law authorized them to pack heat in certain parts of the Atlanta airport.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob expressed concern that allowing guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could cause significant economic damage and could be a “serious threat to public safety and welfare.”

His decision rejected a request by that would have temporarily allowed gun owners to carry their weapons in the airport until his final ruling on the gun ban – a challenge that could likely last months.

The legal showdown erupted when the state law that allows people with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns into restaurants, state parks and on public transportation took effect on July 1.

City officials quickly declared the airport a “gun-free zone” and warned that anyone carrying a gun there would be arrested. sued the city and the airport, claiming that the airport qualifies as mass transportation under the new state law. Attorney John Monroe told the judge repeatedly that no law makes it a crime for residents with permits to bring their guns into terminals, parking lots and other unsecured areas.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, who signed the bill into law in May, supports the lawsuit. The Republican suggested that his own wife might want to carry a firearm for long walks between the parking lot and the airport’s terminal.

City officials have angrily fired back, arguing that allowing some residents to carry guns at the airport could pose a dire threat to the millions of passengers it serves each year. Even an accidental firearm discharge, they say, could cause mayhem.

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