I’ve noticed several posts and comments on Facebook today concerning the announcement that a number of restaurants have asked patrons not to openly carry firearms. The comments have been from folks who chose to take offense at that decision, with their FB friends chiming in with all sorts of pros, cons and sarcastic remarks.
It was quickly clear people were confusing their rights as someone holding a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) with the restaurants’ decisions to ask people not to openly carry. Someone with a CHL cannot openly carry their handgun in public anyway, so the rule, request, whatever has no bearing on them. There was also some confusion over whether they could carry their concealed handgun into one of the restaurants making the announcements that raised all the fuss.
I am not a lawyer, but I do have a little experience in this area. Unless something changed in the last couple of minutes, a business must post a notice that CHL carry is not permitted in their establishment. If they do not post the required notices in the required manner, a CHL holder may enter said establishment, unless he or she is specifically told he or she cannot enter or stay on the property due to the concealed weapon.
For example, Cinemark Theaters has a no CHL policy in Texas as I understand it, but they have chosen not to post their theaters. Therefore, an employee must ask an armed CHL holder to leave. If the armed CHL holder is complying with the law, the theater will never know the person is carrying, and the matter is moot. I’ve checked on this several times with various concealed handgun organizations and all report the same understanding. Which brings us to the point, or lack thereof, of this outrage.
If you believe these people carrying shotguns, hunting rifles and make-believe assault rifles into Chili’s or Starbucks are doing a public service, you and I live on different planets. As a retired police officer, long time gun owner and staunch supporter of The Constitution of the United States of America I clearly understand a gun owner in Texas can carry his or her long gun just about anywhere he or she chooses. I also clearly understand the business, as a private entity, has the right to ask them not to carry that long gun into the business.
I also understand something else. I have seen experienced and highly trained police officers accidentally discharge a weapon. In some cases, those accidental discharges had tragic results, if to nothing other than the officer’s career. There is no way to guarantee something like that will never happen with one of these demonstrations. If it does, any progress the open carry group thinks it is making will disappear in a flash, literally.
As for some of my FB friends who may think I have gone lefty on them, consider this. What if the next place one of these groups decides to bring a hunting rifle, pretend assault rifle or 12 gauge is your church, your office or your dry cleaners. Personally, I’ll wait until I am darned sure the guy carrying his Remington 870 into the cleaners is long gone before I pick up my clothes. I won’t tell you what I’d do if someone was trying to carry one into my church, but then anyone who knows me doesn’t need me to explain the obvious.
*Please note these comments are specifically directed at a Texas audience. Laws in other states may or may not prohibit the carrying of any particular kind of firearm in a particular situation. Also, these comments are based on my understanding of the laws involved and one should consult an attorney or other legal authority before making a decision concerning the legality of any action involving firearms.
© S. E. Jackson 2014