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October 14, 2019

Guns and Private Property Rights Handed Down by GA Supreme Court


Last week the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed and remanded the  v Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc. (ABG) case back to Fulton County Superior Court. The case has been moving through Georgia’s courts since 2015.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) supported the position of the ABG. MAC submitted amicus briefs—with the assistance of Peter Canfield and Brian Lea with Jones Day— when the case was before the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia.  MAC took the position that private leaseholders should be allowed to control whether guns are allowed in their businesses or homes across the metro Atlanta region and the state of Georgia. 

We hoped that the court would affirm the lower courts’ rulings and settle this issue.  However, the Supreme Court determined that, when the government owns land, a leaseholder may exclude firearms from that property if the lease grants the leaseholder what is known as an estate for years.  An estate for years lease typically allows the leaseholder to use of the property as would someone who owns the property outright.

In contrast, under this decision, the holder of a so-called usufruct cannot exclude firearms from land that is owned by the Government.  Speaking generally, a usufruct is a lease, usually of relatively short duration, that does not allow the leaseholder to use the land as an outright owner would.  The Court’s decision did not affect the ability of private individuals and businesses to exclude firearms from land they own outright.

If there is additional litigation or legislative action, MAC will continue to make the case before the courts or to the General Assembly that those who control private property should be able to regulate whether weapons are allowed on the premises.

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