Sunday, July 19, 2015

212.4 - Hero Award: Whataburger continues ban on guns in its restaurants

Hero Award: Whataburger continues ban on guns in its restaurants

Keeping with the upbeat nature of things, we have a Hero Award this week, which is given out around here to someone or some group or some whatever that just does the right thing on a matter big or small.

In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill allowing gun owners who previously qualified for concealed carry permits to carry their handguns openly in shoulder or hip holsters. To walk around here, there, everywhere, openly packing heat and you better not rile me, boy. The law will go into effect in January.

Well, on July 2, the CEO of a Texas-based hamburger chain called Whataburger issued a statement saying the chain will continue its policy of prohibiting customers from openly carrying firearms in its restaurants.

Whataburger is described as a cult favorite with some 780 stores in 10 states and the ceo, Preston Atkinson, said the company has to "think about how open carry impacts our employees and customers," with "many" of them saying "they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement."

Which would seem to be a reasonable, even very moderate, statement, but of course the gun nuts are up in arms, you'll pardon the expression, issuing denunciations and threatening boycotts.

In his announcement, Atkinson insisted that the decision to maintain its longstanding ban on openly carried handguns, despite the new law, was a business decision, not a political one. And in fact, the company has stayed out of the maelstrom erupting on its Facebook page, limiting official posts to subjects like root beer floats.

So perhaps it was just a business decision. But the company had to know that doing it, especially in Texas, would get them a lot of flak and potentially cost them business, at least from the "my gun's bigger than your gun" crowd, and did it anyway, with a position that by prohibiting the open carry of guns goes beyond previous examples such as Chipotle and Starbucks, which merely requested that customers not do so.

So perhaps it was a business decision. It still was the right thing to do - and gets Whataburger a Hero Award.

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