Showdown At The ATL Corral

State Rep. Tim Bearden plans to test Georgia’s newly enacted gun laws, and apparently the patience of the officials at Hartsfield-Jackson:

“I have a permit, and I have family I have to pick up at the airport tomorrow [Tuesday],” Bearden told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “I’ll have one [a concealed weapon] with me at all times.”

Airport General Manager Ben DeCosta said if Bearden shows up at the world’s busiest airport with a gun, he’ll be busted.

Update: I missed the best quote of all:

“I can identify him, and I’ll have him arrested,” DeCosta said Monday. “We’re not fooling around. This is a post-terrorism environment.”

Ignoring the fact that “post-terrorism” is a stupid phrase (is terrorism over?) – Mr. DeCosta, if you have enough idle time to seek out Bearden, I have a very long list of things that need fixing at your airport. I use it twice a week or so, and between ATL proper and TSA it’s always a unique experience. One I don’t enjoy.


  1. Jace Walden says:

    If Bearden gets himself arrested, he may just be my new hero. More pro-gun legislators should follow suit and call the city’s bluff.

    Civil Disobedience=Awesome

  2. Doug Deal says:


    The airport administrator is the one committing Civil Disobedience, as he is the one breaking the law to prove a point.

    Bearden is just following the law.

  3. Chris says:

    I hope he has a backup plan for his family to get home.

    Also, is Hartsfield the best place to test this? I’d think the jurisdictional issues between the state and feds is a bit murky.

  4. Doug Deal says:


    The Fed’s are only supposed to regulate firearms post security checkpoint. That is according to Boortz, so there is a 50-50 chance of it being true.

  5. Clayton says:

    Updated with additional DeCosta quote.

    Security wise, TSA is in charge of the checkpoint inwards. ATL is responsible for the main terminal outside of screening. At least that’s what they practice, from personal experience.

  6. SpaceyG says:

    What a braying jackass Bearden is. He reminds me of those eco-wackos who climbed-up on that Home Depot headquarters crane some years back. Least the eco-ravers had some steel ones, as they went about their public braying and chest beating without need of a gun to detract from their tiny little manly parts.

  7. wmo says:

    Look, I thought the law was stupid grandstanding to placate the NRA in the first place. I own guns, but I personally don’t think it’s a great idea to let people carry them in the terminal of the world’s busiest airport, or in bars, etc.

    Nevertheless, that debate is OVER. The City of Atlanta CANNOT pass an ordinance, or enact a policy, that directly contradicts State Law, even if they don’t agree with it.

    They are going to lose this BIG TIME.

  8. brhuggins says:

    So exercising a Constitutional right now relegates you to the status of braying jackass SpaceyG? I can imagine the pain it causes you listening to the shrieking cacophony of reporters plying the First Amendment. In your world are private citizens required to accept murder and muggings as a part of daily life, or are they afforded the right to protect themselves and their families from predators? Perhaps doing so with anything more dangerous than a whiffle bat is an indicator of the adequacy of their “manly parts”.

  9. Doug Deal says:

    Someone interested in suing should just do it themselves and be the test case and sue DeCosta, Hartsfield and anyone else involved.

    Looks to be an easy scheme to end up making a fairly large amount of money.

  10. eehrhart says:

    This is very disturbing and seems to be a recent trend with certain political jurisdictions testing the waters with respect to ignoring state laws they disagree with.

    Last week we were informed that a majority of Georgia’s cities and counties are not complying with the law on illegal immigration.

    Now this!

    One individual cannot make their own law “I will have him arrested”, very frightening precedent to set.

    It is probably time to revisit the bill the Speaker and I introduced several years ago on a statewide airport authority.

    We also need to deal with the underlying issue of local jurisdictions finding themselves above the law. Government entities are not entitled to civil disobedience or the whole system of law fails.

  11. Doug Deal says:


    The solution is simply. You guys simply need to make it a felony for local officials to intentionally ignore state law or to act in bad faith in trying to skirt it.

    This would be a perfect example. This DeCosta goon should be in jail, as well as any member of Atlanta PD who orders a uniformed officer to make the arrest.

    Further, allow this type of thing to invalidate sovereign immunity for the individuals committing this malfeasance.

  12. I hate to interrupt the Ben DeCosta hatefest with, um, facts, but the airport is city property.

    The city’s position is that Georgia 16-11-127 prohibits guns from public buildings and that HB 89 does not change that.

    The airport is a city building, therefore the city is entitled to say you can’t pack there — just like you can’t pack at City Hall. Or at the Capitol.

    The courts will sort it out, I suppose, but the city’s interpretation of the law seemingly reasonable.

    Whether you think 16-11-127 is reasonable is another argument altogether.

    The fact that Bearden backed down from his promise to take a gun to the airport suggests even he thinks the city may have a point.

  13. eehrhart says:

    Sorry to disabuse you of your typical stereotype but I do not hate Ben DeCosta.

    The fact is very clear that 16-11-127 is preempted by the new law specifically. It could not be more clear.

    Go back and re-read both statutes and use the legal construction that the last statute controls. It really does.

    ie “All laws and parts of laws in conflict” to be specific.

    As for the airport being city property that is a laugh. Try it belongs to the bondholders if anything.

    If the city owns it then they should be foreclosed on.

    They do not

  14. Doug Deal says:


    The OCGA is one of the poorest written documents known to man, but HB 89 introduced the following language into law.

    (e) A person licensed or permitted to carry a firearm by this part shall be permitted to carry such firearm, subject to the limitations of this part, in all parks, historic sites, and recreational areas, including all publicly owned buildings located in such parks, historic sites, and recreational areas and in wildlife management areas, notwithstanding Code Section 12-3-10, in wildlife management areas notwithstanding Code Section 27-3-1.1 and 27-3-6, and in public transportation notwithstanding Code Sections 16-12-122 through 16-12-127; provided, however, that a person shall not carry a firearm into a place prohibited by federal law.
    (f) A person licensed or permitted to carry a firearm by this part shall not consume alcoholic beverages in a restaurant or other eating establishment while carrying a firearm. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

    And the enacting legislation included the following:

    All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

    Notwithstanding the definition of notwithstanding, it would appear that since the airport is part of public transportation, the city of Atlanta would not withstand a challenge on this.

  15. rugby fan says:


    Out of pure curiosity, do you think guns should be allowed at the Gold Dome?

    Also out of curiosity, should governments have the ability to restrict guns from entering their property?

    I am really only asking to know your stance on the issue, I am not trying to play gotcha.

  16. griftdrift says:

    Or maybe we could all sit down and have a reasonable conversation about reasonable regulations for the airport.

    You know. Something like concealed allowed in the parking and drop off areas but all firearms must be in lock in case past the doors of the terminal.


    Much more fun to bow up and spit at each other.

  17. Bill Simon says:

    Doug Sez: “The OCGA is one of the poorest written documents known to man.”

    Yes, and why would that be? Earl, do YOU know why?

    Let me answer for you: Because 99.999% of the laws have been drafted by UGA JD grads.

    So, as much as you worship that school from whence you were forged, their “quality of education” is forever immortalized in that piece of garbage known as The Official Code of Georgia.

  18. Doug Deal says:


    I agree with you on that. It is reasonable to restrict guns in a But; the issue here is a city employee trying to show that he is above state law. It does not matter what you think of the law, it is the law. It must be enforced as it is written, or we are not a government of the law, just whatever some bureaucrat thinks best.

  19. Doug Deal says:

    That should have said to restict guns to outside the airport.

    Also, to Icarus, yeah, they were designed to frustrate UGa grads, to keep them away from North avenue. Unless accompanied by a well trained rodent, they will likely just end on I-285 until it “ends”.

  20. Bill Simon says:

    “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t unaware that the DOT had been following too many rules lately.”

    If you weren’t unaware, then why are you apologizing? 🙂

  21. eehrhart-

    I was referring not to you, but to the person who said DeCosta is a “goon”.

    Doug Deal’s helpful cut-and-paste notwithstanding, the point the city and DeCosta are making is that the airport (outside the security checkpoints) is classified as a public building, not public transit.

    16-11-127, which is re-printed on the back of my firearms license, says I’m not allowed to take a gun into a “publicly owned or operated buildings.” HB89 doesn’t eliminate that restriction.

    If the legislature clearly wanted HB 89 to include Hartsfield-Jackson, why wasn’t the word “airports” included in the legislation?

    Also, what’s to stop you from introducing new legislation next year adding the airport to the “okay to carry” list?


  22. Doug Deal says:


    To not include the means of arriving at public transportation is to render the law moot, and the legislature does not go through the purpose of passing laws to enact null statutes.

    Otherwise, bus terminals, subway stations and every other means of access to public transportation would be forbidden, and the law would have no meaning, since there would be no way to transport the firearm to those places in the first place.

    He is a “goon” because he is acting like one. He believes himself above the law and superior to the judgment and will of people who were actually elected to their positions, instead of serving as a bureaucrat.

    The simple fact is that the law repeals all laws in conflict with it, and it also says to ignore the other code section explicitly, so your argument is as worthless as something that is, well, worth very little.

  23. Chris says:

    I find it amusing there is a mythical line in the airport when you can no longer legally carry a gun.

    I’m curious, where exactly is that line? The start of the ropes? Where the rent-a-agent checks your ID? The metal detector?

    I suspect thats defined by Federal Law/Regulation, so if there is a Peach Punditeer with too much free time (looks at Icarus) who can research this and report back, I’d appreciate it.

  24. Icarus says:

    The fact that I have that much free time doesn’t mean that my life is so dull that I would actually spend my time looking that up.

  25. griftdrift says:

    Chris, my guess is federal control starts at the security gates and continues on to the passenger gates.

    I think no unsecure guns past the doors to the terminal is a pretty reasonable solution.

    Which means under the new law you are certainly welcome to bring one on the MARTA train. You’re also perfectly allowed to stay on the train and not bring the thing into the airport. Heck. Ride it all day with your hog iron!

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