The well-known iconic Texas “burger” franchise “Whataburger” will not be allowing the open carry of firearms in or on its properties, when the law goes into effect in January 2016. Several industry experts feel many other Texas restaurants will be following suit, when the law legalizing the practice takes effect, as well.
The restaurant chain, with over 780 locations across a 10 state area has drawn a mixture of praise and rebuke after upper management announced their decision earlier this month. The CEO even went as far as to predict the retribution and boycotts that would surely come, from the leading Texas gun rights advocates.
President and Chief Executive Preston Atkinson stated in an open letter on the company’s website that many employees and customers were “uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm.”
He self-describes himself as an avid hunter with a concealed carry license, and noted in the letter that patrons that are carrying concealed are still welcome in their restaurants.
The letter came out one month after Texas governor Greg Abbott signed into law the bill that made it legal for licensed concealed carriers to openly carry their firearms in public, ending the long reign of 2nd Amendment violations that date back to post-Civil War reconstruction.
The law, gives private property owners the ability to prohibit the right to the open carry of firearms, which has been hailed as a victory by gun rights advocates across the state. Many open carry groups received “bad press” from the media as they organized rallies in support of the open carry handguns, by openly carrying their long rifles (which was and still is legal in the state of Texas).
Many of the respectful gun rights support rallies throughout the last few years were propagandized by “gun control” groups such as Moms Demand Action and then further sensationalized by main stream media. Pictures of these support rallies were taken out of context, used as propaganda to revitalize the efforts of the failing “gun control” groups by demonizing the AR-15 platform rifle.
Although the carrying of “long rifles” is not a common-place practice in many states (including Texas), but being a legal right in the state of Texas to carrying them, these groups used that legality to make a point; “Legalize the carrying of handguns, and we’ll stop carrying our long rifles.” Our legislators finally acquiesced and passed, albeit barely passed the legal open carry of handguns. I say “barely”, simply because it is licensed open carry, which requires all carriers to acquire a concealed carry permit first.
Many experts are agreeing that Whataburger’s decision will “pave the way” for other restaurants to enact similar policies in their establishments, limiting the legal open carry of firearms in public. As expected, people are now stepping “out of the woodwork” gaining their own 15 minutes of fame, such as Texas Restaurant Association CEO Richie Jackson, who stated that he wasn’t surprised by Whataburger’s advanced announcement. Boldly referenced; “gun rights do not trump property rights under the new law.”
“It can’t be kept a secret,” he said. “Given the number of units that they have in Texas, they just wanted to make it very clear as to where they were going to be, and I would expect to see a number of restaurants follow.”
One of the most sensationalized, yet very rational open carry groups, Open Carry Texas has been very vocal on these issues, including the founder CJ Grisham who stated that Whataburger’s new policy was “premature and irresponsible” and he was disappointed but expectant of them caving to the mass hysteria and fear mongering of the “gun control crowd”.
“I think most gun owners that know this policy are simply not going to go to Whataburger, like me,” he said.
Of course the gun control group mentioned previously “Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America” is applauding Whataburger’s actions. The group has been adamantly petitioning consumer-based chains to “knuckle under” to their demands, including Starbucks, Sonic, Chili’s and Chipotle since their inception. Their feeble-minded attempts are modest at best, but mainstream media seems insistent upon “taking up their torch” in hopes of creating better Nielsen ratings.
Stephanie Luncy, a “mouthpiece” for the organization’s Texas chapter, stated that she has spoken to mothers who have younger children working in the restaurants late at night.
“They do not feel that part of their job description should involve assessing the intention of armed folks,” she said.
She described Atkinson’s announcement as “good old Texas common sense”.
“Texans are bold and brave,” she said. “And that is what you are seeing from this CEO who is a gun owner.”
Many Texas Whataburger patrons feel much differently about this new policy change, including Charlie Hair, who commented from outside a San Antonio location about their decision; “I prefer an armed society to an unarmed one,” he said as he left with his eight-year-old son.
Although there are still some who just do not understand what happens in “gun free” zones, and are willing to risk the lives of their loved ones, by taking a stand against the legal carry of firearms in public, by saying things like;
“Why do you need to bring a gun into a store where there are kids?” she asked. “We are not in the wild, wild west.”
I reckon it doesn’t really matter how you feel about the decision Whataburger made in regards to the “open carry” of handguns in their restaurants; it is what it is. What I will say in regards, is this;
Legal law-abiding citizens are not “criminals”. Open carriers are not scary. The visibility of a firearm in public is not dangerous, but rather a deterrent to crime. It’s not the badge of an LEO that deters a criminal, it’s the visible “show of threat” that does. When will people “wake up and smell the coffee” and learn that it’s not the gun that is evil or dangerous, but the person who is carrying it. This “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality is asinine. People need to educate themselves before speaking.
The Founding Fathers gave to “US” the right to keep and bear arms, for the protection of ourselves, our loved ones and our fellow-men and women. This right was not precluded to “concealed carry” only. Maybe the open carry of a firearm is not your “cup of tea”? That’s fine, but shouldn’t we all have a choice to choose for ourselves?
I don’t know if Whataburger has “shot” themselves in the foot on this decision or not, but I do know that there are a lot of Texans who don’t appreciate the controversial actions either. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out “deep in the heart of Texas”.
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef.
Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak.
“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air.” ~ John Quincy Adams