Last summer, my wife brought me a souvenir from the trip she took with my son to Austin, Texas. It wasn't a Longhorns T-shirt or swag from the RTX booths that were the reasons for them to be in the Lone Star state. She didn't bring back any barbecue, which makes sense in a perishable kind of way. Instead she chose to bring me a relic from one of their favorite meals in Austin. Something that wasn't perishable, only recyclable. Upon their return, I was presented with a cardboard sleeve from an order of Whataburger french fries. As a fan of burgers of all kinds, I took what might have been compost at almost any other juncture like the memento it was intended. I did inspect the package for any peculiar or arcane markings, like the bible verse found on the In 'n' Out french fry boats, or a sweepstakes offer like McDonald's. Nope. This was truth in packaging. It was just what it looked like. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was a remembrance shared with my family from a meal I missed with them.
This past week, the Chief Executive Officer of the Whataburger chain, Preston Atkinson, said "thank you, no" to the open carry laws enacted in Texas. Those who previously had permits to carry concealed weapons can now pack their shootin' irons in hip or shoulder holsters for everyone to see. But not at Whataburger. Their policy echoes that of a number of franchises that are interested in keeping their restaurants gun-free. "We have to think about how open carry impacts our 34,000+ employees and millions of customers," Atkinson wrote. "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] 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." Freedom to carry a gun versus free enterprise. Once again, the idea of a fight between the "anti-gun lobby" and them with guns seems a little unfair, at least when it comes to the shooting portion of the contest. Both sides will argue common sense, but those with guns have this Constitution thing on their side. They'll call for a boycott, which will make it easier to enforce the policy that will keep open carry folks from eating at Whataburger. See how this whole democracy thing works? I'm proud to be an American, and I like my burgers with cheese.