If you want to bring a gun into a Whataburger, you better keep it out of sight.
The iconic Texas fast-food chain recently announced that it will not allow customers to openly carry firearms in its restaurants, despite a new law that empowers Texans to display their guns while walking the state’s streets.
In an open letter to the “gun rights community,” Whataburger CEO Preston Atkinson explained that while he supports Second Amendment rights, “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.”
Texas Restaurant Association CEO Richie Jackson told the Associated Press that he expects other restaurants in the state to adopt a similar policy before the new law goes into effect next January.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation in June, following years of protests and rallies by gun rights advocates. Among the group’s favorite acts of civil disobedience was the repeated practice of bringing military-style assault rifles into Texas Chipotle Restaurants, prompting push back from the burrito chain.
The new law overturned a ban on open carry that dates back to the post-Civil War era, when it was used to disarm former Confederate soldiers and facilitate the emancipation of slaves in the state.
While Texas’ streets, sidewalks, and parks will soon be open to the visibly armed, the law gives private property owners the right to ban guns in their homes or establishments.
Whataburger patrons will still be allowed to carry firearms in the chain’s restaurants, so long as they keep them concealed. But that gives little comfort to Open Carry Texas founder C.J. Grisham, who told the A.P. that the policy was “premature and irresponsible.”
“I think most gun owners that know this policy are simply not going to go to Whataburger, like me,” he said.