A new law allowing Texans to "open carry" hasn't gone into effect yet, but businesses across the state are not waiting to ban the practice of openly carrying guns in their stores.
Thanks to a law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this year, Texas residents will have the legal right to openly display firearms in public places beginning on Jan. 1.
Al Flores, an attorney for Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen in Houston, told The Wall Street Journal that the restaurant chain was taking steps to make its customers feel safe.
“We’re primarily a family environment in terms of our restaurant. And so we decided it’s probably best not to allow open carry,” Flores explained. “We just felt that knowing our customers, allowing someone to walk in openly carrying a weapon, it would make them feel a little uncomfortable.”
Russell Ybarra, the owner of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen, plans to ban open carry at his other restaurant chain, Jimmy Changas. However, customers at both locations will still be able to carry concealed handguns.
The Houston Chronicle noted that the H-E-B grocery store chain and The Galleria shopping mall have also recently announced open carry bans.
"People have a right to choose. I believe we are in the majority though," Ybarra pointed out. "Parents won’t want to take their kids to eat somewhere where people are open carrying."
But the First Baptist Church of Arlington has said that its 2,500 weekly worshipers were welcome to open carry during church services.
“We decided it was best to allow responsible people to do this if they choose,” Senior Pastor Dennis Wiles told The Wall Street Journal. “We will probably assess the situation in a couple of months to see how it goes. When it comes to a church, I don’t think we’re going to see that much difference.”
A survey last year found that about 75 percent of Texas police chiefs were opposed the open carry law.