Beloved fast food chain of the South, Whataburger, recently found itself in national headlines after announcing their decision not to participate in Texas’ newly minted open carry law.
Full disclosure before we move forward, I love Whataburger. Love. Love. Love. In fact, I had a #1 with cheese, no veggies, and mayo for lunch/dinner today.
But love of hot, crispy fries, and breakfast taquitos at midnight aside, Whataburger is being portrayed inaccurately.
Drawing fire from many, even factions on the right, Whataburger was accused of “taking a stand” against a law near and dear to the hearts of many Texans.
Yahoo News reported:
Whataburger takes stand against Texas’ new open carry law
An iconic Texas restaurant chain will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties, and industry experts say other restaurants will likely take the same stand against a new state law legalizing the practice in many public places.
Whataburger — with some 780 locations in 10 states — has drawn a mix of praise and rebuke since making the announcement this month, including a prediction of boycotts from one of the state’s leading advocates for gun rights.
Preston Atkinson, Whataburger’s President and CEO wrote an open letter addressing the issue. Atkinson wrote:
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.
As a gun enthusiast and second amendment-lover, this position strikes me as perfectly reasonable. Particularly when the bill enacted in Texas enables private businesses to prohibit open carry at their discretion.
Section 44 reads:
Chapter 30, Penal Code, is amended by adding Section 30.07 to read as follows:
Sec.A30.07 TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH AN OPENLY CARRIED HANDGUN.
(a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder:
(1) openly carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and
(2) received notice that:
(A) entry on the property by a license holder openly carrying a handgun was forbidden; or
(B) remaining on the property while openly carrying a handgun was forbidden and failed to depart.
(b) For purposes of this section, a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication.
(c) In this section:
(1) “Entry” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.05(b).
(2) “License holder” has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f).
(3) “Written communication” means:
(A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly”; or
(B) a sign posted on the property that:
(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;
(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.
As a private business perfectly within their rights to do so, Whataburger decided it most advantageous to continue to allow concealed carry, but not open carry. Doing so is perfectly within the realm of Texas’ new law and is not “bucking” “standing against” “denying” or any other negative descriptor.
If there must be a conversation over Whataburger’s choice then by all means, fire away. But let’s ensure the law at the center of the debate is understood.
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