Whataburger, I’ve never eaten there, but I heard it’s pretty good. If we’re talking fast-food burgers, it’s hard to beat In-N-Out burger in my book. ‘Double Double,’ extra cheese with a side of pickles from In-N-Out is about as good as it gets as far as burgers go. Anyways, we’re not talking bout grilled ground beef we’re taking about guns in businesses and Whataburger’s recent statement clarifying its stance on both open and concealed carry.
Personally, I think they got it right. But more on that in a minute. Here is what Preston Atkinson, Whataburger President and CEO, had to say on the matter on July 2, 2015:
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.
Whataburger President and CEO
Open carry supporters may be upset by this decision as their mission is to normalize open carry in public. And if a Texas-based like Whataburger prohibits open carry in its more than 700 stores across the U.S., advocates will no longer be able to use it as a meeting place to spread the gospel of open carry in an effort to win hearts and minds.
On some level, I sympathize with this way of thinking. The more businesses that close their doors to open carriers, the more difficult it will be to convince folks that open carry is normal.
Yet, open carry advocates also have to acknowledge that Whataburger isn’t saying no to firearms, just open carry. Whataburger is not a gun-free zone. It’s an open-carry free zone. There’s a difference.
Sure, it’s not the ideal situation. Ideally, Whataburger would permit both open and concealed, but the reality is that they are a profit-driven business that has to compromise a bit on its pro-gun politics in order to appease its anti-gun customers. From my perspective, I can’t hold this calculated decision against Whataburger (though I do believe complaints from customers regarding open carry are probably overblown). To stay in business, to make money in this country, unfortunately there are times when we have to put profits over our personal politics.
What are your thoughts? Do you think they made the right call?