Does Texas' New Constitutional Carry Law Burden Businesses?

(AP Photo/Lorin Eleni Gill)

Not really, though the Dallas Observer claims that restaurants in the Lone Star State are somehow going to be impacted by the new law. Even before the new Constitutional Carry law took effect on Wednesday, restaurants across Texas were already able to ban the possession of firearms on their properties, and that hasn’t changed with the new law now in place. The biggest difference is that now those dining establishments have a number of options.

Restaurants, non-51-percenters, have three signs to choose from now. One refers to penal code 30.06, which prohibits concealed handguns; penal code 30.07 prohibits the open carrying of handguns; and penal code 30.05 covers criminal trespass for entering with a firearm. Some restaurants have already posted the 30.05 sign with the words “No Permitless Carry” at the top. All three signs mean no guns on your property.

Private property owners still have that right. When open carry of handguns passed in Texas in 2015, Whataburger’s then-president and CEO issued a letter stating that even though he was an avid hunter with a concealed-carry license, his employees and customers aren’t comfortable being around someone with a visible firearm. He banned them from his restaurants. Richie Jackson, the CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) at the time, told The Day then that “gun rights do not trump property rights.”

Kelsey Erickson Streufert, vice president of government relations and advocacy with the TRA, confirms that while bars that meet the 51% threshold will still need a red sign, the remaining restaurants “retain their right as private property owners and managers to set the handgun policies that are best for their business.”

Carrying a firearm in a bar, or any business that derives at least 51% of its revenue from alcohol sales, is still prohibited regardless of whether or not you have a concealed carry license. Restaurants, however, can choose to allow patrons to carry, ban the open carrying of firearms, or ban guns from their premises. I’d hardly call that a “burden,” but the anti-gun media, both locally and nationally, are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to raise concern among non-gun owners.

The Observer also notes one other change to Texas carry laws brought about by Constitutional Carry that it claims will impose new burdens on restaurant workers.

One stipulation of the new unlicensed carry law, however, is that anyone who is in violation of posted gun signs must be given a warning before being asked to leave. That means managers, owners and servers will need to inform gun-carrying customers they need to take their pistols elsewhere.

Restaurant owners and servers are already chary over confronting customers about wearing masks, with some complaining they’d been dragooned into enforcing state mandates. Presumably, they’re not going to be thrilled at the prospect of confronting a customer about a gun.

Probably not, but it’s not like restaurant employees in those establishments that ban firearms have never had to deal with that before now. Yes, the new law requires restaurants to tell gun owners that they’re violating the restaurant’s policy rather than simply calling police and demanding the gun-owning patron be arrested or removed from the property, but since the Texas State Restaurant Association is advising restaurant owners to wait until police arrive before issuing that warning, in practice nothing will really change. And frankly, I don’t expect that this will be any more of an issue now than it was last week. At least one restaurant owner in the Dallas area agrees.

Dallas Hale, is a proponent of the right to carry. The president and CEO of Shell Shack, Sushi Marquee and Ebb & Flow is a military veteran and is proud of his license to carry.

Hale points out that Texas is the 21st state to allow permitless carry. He plans on allowing permitless carry in his restaurants so long as the guns are concealed, which has always been his policy. But he is opposed to open carry. “If you’re openly carrying you’re really just showing off,” Hale says.

He’s even asked police officers to conceal their guns, and when they respond, “But I’m a cop,” he asks them to display their badges. Otherwise, he requests they conceal their firearm because he understands they make customers nervous.

Hale has also seen firsthand that restaurants have been on the front lines of every political issue lately. “But this one,” Hale says, “I truly think it’s not going to be an issue.”

If the past is any indication of the future, we have another week or two of media freakouts over Constitutional Carry in Texas before the issue fades away. In the meantime, expect plenty of stories like this one from the Dallas Observer… and plenty of restaurant owners like Dallas Hale who don’t plan on implementing any gun ban in their restaurants in response to the new permitless carry law.

 

Sep 21, 2021 10:30 AM ET