Come 2016, if Law Shield members want to enjoy a tasty No. 2 combo, no cheese, extra onions, at a nearby Whataburger, the fast-food company’s management prefers you carry concealed, not open, in the stores.
Preston Atkinson, Whataburger’s President and CEO, issued a statement regarding future open carry at Whataburger restaurants on July 2, 2015. Whataburger is based in Corpus Christi, Texas, so many of its stores will be affected by the coming Open Carry law on January 1, 2016. Atkinson’s 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.”
When legal open carry comes to Texas, we wonder how many businesses will choose a position similar to Whataburger. Of course, to effectively prohibit the licensed open carry of handguns in Texas, a business will need to post a legal 30.07 sign. How would you handle it?