Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Texas Gears Up for New Open-Carry Handgun Law

Measure makes the state the most populous to allow the practice
The owners of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen are old hands at confronting the typical challenges of a burgeoning restaurant business—hiring, competition, even developing a “gluten guide.” But recently the Tex-Mex chain has been facing an unusual dilemma: whether to allow customers to openly display their guns while munching fajitas.
Come Jan. 1, licensed firearms owners in Texas will be able to openly carry a handgun in most places. A law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year will make Texas the most populous state in the U.S. to allow the practice, known as “open carry.”
Existing Texas law requires licensed gun owners to conceal their handguns so they aren’t in plain view. The new law will allow them to carry handguns openly, in belt or shoulder holsters.
But private businesses and other establishments have the right to ban open carry under the law, and many have been wrestling with how to proceed.
“We’re primarily a family environment in terms of our restaurant. And so we decided it’s probably best not to allow open carry,” said Al Flores, counsel for Gringo’s, which has 14 restaurants, mainly in the Houston area and surrounding counties. “We just felt that knowing our customers, allowing someone to walk in openly carrying a weapon, it would make them feel a little uncomfortable.”
Mr. Flores said the restaurant chain will post signs in English and Spanish, warning customers about the prohibition. A concealed gun would still be permitted at Gringo’s.
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