Whataburger To Not Allow Open Carry Of Handguns

The public announcement has raised questions about how others in the industry might respond to the forthcoming open carry law.

By Brenda SalinasJuly 8, 2015 10:16 am| ,

An iconic Texas burger chain has found itself in the crosshairs of gun politics in the wake of a state law change set to take effect which would allow open carry of handguns. Preston Atkinson, President and CEO of Whataburger, has released a statement that reads: “Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights, but we haven’t allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time, although we have not prohibited license concealed carry.”

Atkinson goes on to say that Whataburger supports the gun rights community, noting that he himself has a concealed carry license. But the public announcement that the Texas staple will not permit open carry has raised eyebrows on both sides of the gun issue, as well as questions about how others in the industry might respond to the forthcoming open carry law. Reggie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, talked with Texas Standard today.

On companies taking a public stance on open carry:

“I think every restaurant is going to have to make a public declaration, if they choose to prohibit open carry, by having to place signs in the restaurant … I think the public statement of that clears the air and gives customers a thorough understanding of what their policies are.”

On why restaurants are making this decision:

“I think the issue is whether or not customers feel comfortable in the presence of someone who has a holster weapon that’s not uniform. I think there are restaurants who are trying to make the decision as to how their customers are going to feel about that. I think if the customers feel concerned or uncomfortable around that kind of setting then … they’ll make a decision to prohibit open carry within their establishments.”

On concealed vs. open carry:

“When concealed carry first passed, there were restaurants whose initial reaction was to prohibit concealed carry in restaurants. Because it’s concealed, customers don’t know if someone else is carrying a firearm or not – there hasn’t been that level of uncomfortable or concern. … There has been, of course, concern on the part of those who are carrying a firearm. Open carry ups the ante and created the opportunity for greater level of discomfort among patrons.”

On restaurants following Whataburger’s lead:

“I think Whataburger has made a decision that’s going to be a common decision made in restaurants across the state of Texas. There will be some restaurants, I’m sure, that are going to say … it’s just much easier to set up a clear bright line and say there will be no weapons in the establishment. But I think many will, out of respect for their customers who have concealed carry permits, just prohibit open carry if that’s what their choice is.”