Restaurant Owners Oppose Open Carry Laws In Texas
19 July 2015No Comments
Texas’ open-carry laws have created a controversy with Texas restaurant owners. Whataburger CEO stands adamant that his restaurant will not serve openly armed customers even when Texas allows open-carry in January.
Wendy Woodland, a Texas Restaurant Association spokeswoman stated, “Whataburger was one of the first, but all businesses are going to have to be looking at it. No one else has come out.”
The San Antonio-based Whataburger CEO Preston Atkinson issued a statement, that the new law will take effect next year and make Texas one of more than 40 states that recognize some form of open carry. “Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights,” Atkinson said in the statement, “… but we haven’t allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time (although we have not prohibited licensed conceal carry.)”
Atkinson continued, “We’ve had many customers and employees tell us they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement, and as a business, we have to listen and value that feedback in the same way we value yours. We have a responsibility to make sure everyone who walks into our restaurants feels comfortable.”
RESTAURANT OWNERS ASK LEAVE YOUR WEAPONS AT HOME
Johnnie Jordan, owner of Morris Neal’s Handy Hamburgers in Cleburne, south of Fort Worth, sympathizes with Atkinson’s views. However, Jordan is undecided about what to do, if anything, about the law. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it,” Jordan said. “I’m going to have to think on it.”
Kay Greenlee, an owner at Dutch’s Legendary Hamburgers opposite the Texas Christian University campus in Fort Worth, said that while the prospect of visibly armed civilians makes her nervous, she’s planning a partners’ meeting to decide whether to do anything about it. “We probably won’t have restrictions,” Grenlee said. “Running a business and running a home are different.”
But Jason Chung, who manages the Burger House in Bryan, said he and his uncle, the owner, have already formulated a policy: No open carry for customers. “Carrying the guns around, that doesn’t seem right to me,” Chung said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
Several national restaurants and retailers – such as Jack in the Box and Starbucks – have asked customers to leave their weapons at home.
Stephen Barth, an expert in hospitality law at the University of Houston, noted that many other states already have open carry, which he described as “just a step further than concealed carry.”
Once the law is in effect, he said, deciding to ban guns in a business comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. David Moseley, a Dallas attorney who represents hotels and restaurateurs, said his clients are giving “mixed feedback.”
“Some people are going to ban openly carried weapons, not concealed. That’s a perception issue,” he said. Moseley stated people probably will start carrying guns once January arrives. “It’s like forbidden fruit,” he said. But that should change within a year, he continued. Moseley said peoples’ reaction to seeing guns openly displayed is “cultural.” Still to be settled, he said, is an argument now “bubbling around” legal circles.