Iconic Texas fast-food chain Whataburger will not allow the open carry of firearms in its restaurants, even after the new open carry law goes into effect next year.
People on both sides of the issue agreed on one thing: Whataburger is friendly to the right to bear arms, but now, that friendliness has limits.
Tov Henderson, who testified to lawmakers in Austin in favor of open carry, says the request by Whataburger's president and CEO for customers to not to openly carry guns inside its restaurants is fine with him.
"Private property rights are just as important as our right to keep and bear arms,” said Henderson. “The Second Amendment is about the government not infringing on…as a private property owner, you have the right to set rules and regulations that are reasonable within your establishment.”
The San Antonio-based burger chain is asking customers who are concealed handgun license holders to please conceal their weapon when they walk in the door.
Last month, Texas passed a law letting licensed gun owners wear their guns in plain view in a hip or shoulder holster and let businesses decide what they will do.
The law takes effect Jan. 1.
Whataburger President and CEO Preston Atkinson said in a statement, "Whataburger proudly supports customers' Second Amendment rights.”
He went on to say, "I personally enjoy hunting and also have my concealed carry license, as do others at Whataburger.”
But the reason for his decision has to do with input from customers and employees.
"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,” said Atkinson.
"I know I've been in other stores that have had people openly carrying them and it's scary,” said customer Missy Stephens. “I mean especially when you're walking with your family and there is a rifle on someone's arm.”
"My husband has his CHL actually and I don't really feel comfortable with everybody parading around with their guns,” said customer Elycia Smith. “How do you know if they are a CHL holders or not?”
Not everyone applauded the move. Angry customers sounded off on the burger chain's Facebook page, saying things like, "It's been nice eating your food, however if you are not going to allow open carry, you will no longer receive business from me.”
On its Facebook page, Open Carry Texas criticized the restaurant, saying, "What Whataburger is doing is caving to the brainwashing and social engineering that the anti-gun crowd has successfully worked to accomplish."