Texas fast-food institution Whataburger has banned firearms from their restaurants — a stand against the new state law that allows residents to openly carry guns.
“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,” Whataburger CEO Preston Atkinson said in an open letter.
Whataburger has long had a policy against open firearms in many of its locations across the U.S., but the issue has resurfaced in the wake of the new Texas law signed in June. The law, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, makes Texas the 45th state in which it is legal to openly carry firearms in the street. The bill repeals a 140-year-old law.
Customers who carry concealed weapons will still be allowed in the restaurants. Atkinson, an avid hunter and proponent of gun rights, has his own concealed carry permit.
Reactions have been mixed. Some customers have supported Whataburger’s ban, while others have spoken out against it. Experts predict, however, that Whataburger’s stance against firearms is the next link in a gathering movement that will encourage other restaurants to enact similar policies.
Whataburger is not the first restaurant in Texas to react to Texas’ liberal gun laws. Last year, Chipotle Mexican Grill banned firearms from their restaurants, after an open-carry demonstration at one of their Dallas locations. Sonic and Chili’s have both issued similar statements.