Open Carry: "A Tale of 2 Coffee Shops"

Open Carry has been the "law of the land" here in Texas since January 1st. Now that more businesses are aware of it some are not only choosing to ban open carry but concealed carry too.

Some Second Amendment advocates have taken notice and aren't too happy.

You could call this 'A Tale of 2 Coffee Shops’, coffee shop number 1, Cafe Aragona on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

If you were carrying openly, you could walk in, have a seat and owner Jenai Hales wouldn't have a problem with it.

Hales says, “They're not breaking the law, I’m not opposed to it, I’m not threatened by someone that openly carries a gun.  To me, that is the least of my concerns."

Coffee shop number 2, Once Over Coffee Bar on South 1st street. Before gun license holders walk through this coffee shop door, they may stop and realize that owners Rob and Janay Ovitt have banned both open and concealed carry.

According to Ovitt, “We just went for it, we got big clearly compliant ones made out of durable plastic and went put them right there by the front door."

Ever since the open carry of handguns went into effect on January 1st, both Texas Gun Sense and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have been canvassing businesses to gauge their opinions on the new law.

Ed Scruggs with Texas Gun Sense says it's been an educational process because many businesses just don't know the law.

“We have been calling businesses directly or going by and talking to the businesses in person" says Scruggs. Ed goes on to say, “if you're not going to post a sign, what will you do if someone comes in carrying openly?  Will you ask them to leave?  How will you do it?  Are you comfortable letting the barista do that?  If there's no manager?  What do you plan on doing?”

Nicole Greene with Moms Demand Action says, “Some moms are going door to door to the places they would normally take their families...and driving around and looking for signs and stopping in and talking to managers.”

Greene says they have a list of businesses that ban open carry.

According to Nicole, “We just hit 400 businesses across the state and it just keeps growing all the time because more and more businesses keep learning what they need to do."

Janai Hales with Caffe Aragona says she doesn't agree with what those groups are doing.  She says if another business chooses to ban open carry, that's fine with her.

Hales says, “I’ll still do business with them.  I might not agree.  We can even have a dialogue about it.  But I’m not going to sit there and tell people 'don't go there because they don't support what I want.'  That’s not to me what America is supposed to be.”

Robert Ovitt with Once Over says he and his wife didn't have a concealed carry policy before open carry went into effect.

Ovitt explains, “We actually kind of misunderstood the situation and thought that because we sold beer that guns weren't allowed in here, that was our misunderstanding, we hadn't really done our homework."

They realized to really ban guns on the property they would have to put up both a 30.06 and a 30.07 sign banning both open and concealed carry.

Ovitt says, “If somebody comes in openly carrying and I say 'excuse me, we have our sign and please...you can't have the gun in here...stick it in their jacket.  Now it's concealed.  All good. but the comfort level is exactly the same as open carry.  We saw the guy bring the gun in."

Hales feels businesses like Once Over that choose to put up both signs are in a difficult position. She says, “If there's ever somebody that tries to rob me here at this store and I don't personally have a gun on me.  I will so thankful if one of those law abiding citizens has a gun on them and stops that person."

Open carry became law January 1st, 2016. Exactly 20 years before that concealed carry became law in Texas and that law was written Jerry Patterson. Patterson later became Land Commissioner but he was a State Senator at the time.

“Blood in the streets, wild wild west shootouts at every 4 way stop, none of that happened,' says Patterson.

Now, you can count Patterson among the supporters of open carry even though he won't be doing it very often.

Patterson says, “Yeah I don't want to, I mean I don't want anybody to know if I’m carrying or not carrying.  And I do believe that under certain circumstances it could give a tactical advantage to someone who was intending to do harm."

As for coffee shops like Once Over that have chosen to disallow both open and concealed carry, some gun owners have taken notice.

After hearing numerous complaints about similar situations, NRA board member Charles Cotton recently wrote on a forum that he regrets the passage of open carry.  Saying in part, "If I cannot carry my self-defense handgun into a store because they put up 30.06 and 30.07 signs, then someone's ability to show their handgun to everyone will have cost me the ability to defend myself."

Jerry Paterson goes on to say, “I will submit to you, probably in a year that sign's going to be gone.  It’s going to be replaced by something else or some advertising.  All of this is going away.  Everybody just be cool, be calm.”

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