Phillip Evans, a member with the Garden and a licensed to carry gun holder in Georgia, visited the Garden with his gun in a waistband holster. An employee stopped him and informed him that he could not carry a weapon and proceeded to have him detained by a security officer and eventually, an officer with the Atlanta Police Department escorted him from the Garden. Georgiacarry.org and Phillip Evans’ filed a petition for declaratory and injunctive relief on the basis that O.C.G.A. §16-11-127 (c) authorizes Evans and other licensed individuals to carry a weapon at the Garden. They also sought a declaration that the Garden could not prohibit licensed individuals from “carrying weapons on the property that the Garden leases from the City of Atlanta.”
Initially, the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ petition for declaratory relief and injunction on the foundation that it impermissibly required the court to interpret and apply a criminal statute. Later, the Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the declaratory relief and interlocutory injunction actions, citing that the trial court erred in determining that it required the trial court to interpret and apply a criminal statute. Although, §16-11-127 (c) is found within the confines of the criminal code, the plaintiffs did not seek an advisory opinion that their proposed actions would not be criminal; instead, they sought a determination of whether licensed individuals are allowed to carry a weapon on the grounds of the Garden. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order and remanded the action for further proceedings.
However, the Court did affirm the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction prohibiting the Garden from “causing the arrest or prosecution of” licensed individuals carrying weapons at the Garden due to the fact that the Garden lacked the authority to administer the criminal law, and enjoining it from “causing” an arrest or prosecution would be fruitless. Further, that portion of the petition directly implicated the administration of criminal law and subsequently deemed improper.