At the start of the new year, a law took effect in Texas that allows a gun owner with a concealed-weapon license to openly carry a handgun in a holster in public.
Some stores and restaurants are exercising their right to ban guns on their property, but at least one Houston-area business owner is encouraging customers to pack heat.
Customers come to Brooks’ Place for the smoked brisket, but they pay 10 percent less if they bring a gun.
Law-abiding gun owners
Owner Trent Brooks believes law-abiding gun owners help prevent crime.
“We support the Second Amendment" — which relates to the right to keep and bear arms — "and we want to show appreciation to people who are carrying their firearms to protect themselves, to protect their business and to protect their family,” he said.
Brooks said most customers have no problem with his policy. But some have told him the guns give them heartburn.
“We have people who say they are not coming back, we have people who say they are not going to support us, and that is their choice,” he said.
But most customers don’t wear guns and don’t get the discount, even some who often do carry a weapon.
“I did not have it today because I was at my parents’ house and there were lots of little kids around there, so I didn’t want to carry it there,” customer Augustin Sanchez said during a recent stop at Brooks' Place.
When asked how often he does carry the weapon, Sanchez replied, "Ah, most of the time.”
Increase in bans
Gun-rights supporters have held rallies with their firearms to celebrate the new law, but many gun owners say it has resulted in more gun bans on private property.
Some businesses have posted legal notices to bar guns, while others, like the Kroger grocery chain, have not.
Many customers say they don’t want to see a gun in the fresh produce section.
One shopper named Mandy said she didn't object to concealed weapons, "but if I were to see it or they were to walk around with it, I probably would be a little bothered. I would not feel comfortable with my kids being around it.”
The Texas chapter of a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America wants Kroger and other businesses that allow guns to change their policy.
Only 3½ percent of the estimated 27 million people in Texas have handgun permits, so most Texans will probably never see anyone other than a police officer wearing a gun. But there may be a larger public reaction in August when the provision allowing open carrying of guns at state colleges and universities takes effect.