Whataburger says no to open-carry

Whataburger says no to open-carry

The 84th legislature passed open-carry. It was immediately given the stamp of approval from Governor Abbott. Businesses across the state are not figuring out whether to permit or prohibit visible guns on their premises. Licensed guns will be out in the open starting January first. One Texas fast food icon is already saying "no way."

"The new law is going to allow Texans that are CHL holders to openly carry their handguns," attorney Matthew Harris explained. "Businesses absolutely have the power to decide what happens within their establishment(s) and the conduct of their patrons."

"If you have a license, you can openly carry your handgun in a holster," Texas Tech Law professor Eric Chiappinelli added. "Every private business in Texas has the right to prohibit firearms on its premises if it wants. It's consistent with the rights of businesses and the rights of people here in Texas. The state legislation specifically gives businesses the option to prohibit firearms if they want."

The president of Whataburger took to its website to address the open carry policy. The statement reads:
"There’s been a lot of talk the past couple weeks about Whataburger’s open carry policy, and I wanted to reach out to personally explain our position.

Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights and we respect your group’s position, 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). It’s a business decision we made a long time ago and have stood by, and I think it’s important you know why.
But first, as a representative of Whataburger, I want you to know we proudly serve the gun rights community. I personally enjoy hunting and also have my concealed carry license, as do others at Whataburger.

From a business standpoint, though, we have to think about how open carry impacts our 34,000+ employees and millions of customers. We serve customers from all walks of life at more than 780 locations, 24 hours a day, in 10 states and we’re known for a family friendly atmosphere that customers have come to expect from us. We’re the gathering spot for Little League teams, church groups and high school kids after football games.

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. For that reason, we don’t restrict licensed concealed carry but do ask customers not to open carry in our restaurants.

As a company serving customers with many different viewpoints, we’re sometimes caught in the middle on controversial issues like this one. We hope you and your members, along with our other friends in the gun rights community, understand our position and will continue to visit us. We appreciate your business. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Preston Atkinson
Whataburger President and CEO"

"It's very disheartening that Whataburger, an institution in Texas, would seek to prohibit customers from openly carrying inside and being able to protect themselves," Harris said. "We just finished with a very contentious 84th legislative session and that follows a very contentious election where citizens reached out and elected legislators to pass that very specific bill. For us to finally get to this point and the businesses in our state to reach out and say no, we're not going to allow that to happen. Customers also have the ability to decide with their dollars what businesses are going to receive that money. Whenever Whataburger sees the decline in profits, their company is going to change their mind."

"Whataburger's policy is a longstanding policy not to allow firearms," Chiappinelli said. "Whataburger has made this decision to keep it's policies in place based on what it thinks is best for its customers."

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