Pack a gun, not cleats, for Piedmont

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The next time you head to Piedmont Park, the city’s crown jewel, keep this in mind: You can’t wear cleats and if you’re part of an organized sports league, you can’t play on the athletic fields. And if you want to attend a festival, those aren’t allowed, either.

But you can pack a gun.

Piedmont Park once was best known for its seediness, a place easier to find used needles, condoms and hookers than a grassy spot to sunbathe. That changed as the park transformed into a well-polished hub of (legal) activity.

Now, thanks to restrictive new regulations in response to the state’s long-running drought, there’s little organized athletic activity going on. Those regulations pushed out gay sports groups including the National Flag Football League of Atlanta and the Hotlanta Soccer Association. Large-scale events, including the Atlanta Pride Festival, also got the boot.

Thanks to a ruling last week, a Superior Court judge struck down a city law prohibiting carrying guns in public parks. So put another way, city cops can arrest you for breaking Piedmont’s 11 p.m. curfew, as happened to a handful of gay men in 2005, but not for packing a pistol. John Monroe, the lawyer for GeorgiaCarry.org, explained it this way:

“The city can’t go out and arrest somebody for carrying a gun in a city park anymore, or, if it does, it is in contempt of court.”

The city hoped the Legislature would step in and help during the recent session. Instead, lawmakers passed a bill allowing licensed gun owners to carry weapons in state parks – currently banned – and on MARTA. The bill is awaiting Gov. Sonny Perdue’s signature. So, pack a picnic and a pistol, but not your cleats, gloves and bats the next time you want to visit Piedmont.

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