January 2016 will go down in Texas as the year that the state's new "open carry" law went into effect. As of January 1, properly licensed Texans are permitted to display their handguns in public in holsters on their hips or shoulders.
But seeing a pistol-toting shopper in the middle of the produce department or elsewhere in the store is a scary sight for some. Those who don't want to be around guns in public places can avoid those businesses, but they have to do a little research.
Private property owners can ban guns with a sign worded like this:
Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.
Many major retailers, including Tom Thumb, Fiesta, Costco, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and Whole Foods, ban openly carried firearms in their stores with such a sign, according to the website Gun Free Businesses.
One exception is Kroger, which allows guns to be openly carried in its stores. The chain's CFO has rejected demands to change its policy nationwide. Walmart also appears to allow permitted gun owners to carry guns in stores, although the Wall Street Journal reported that a store's associates and customers can complain to management if the presence of firearms makes them "feel uncomfortable in any situation where a customer brings a gun into the store, and store managers can ask customers to leave guns in the car."
(Update 01/07: CultureMap initially reported that Target would post signs banning open carry in its Texas stores, but a spokeswoman for the chain says while it "respectfully requests guests not bring fire arms into the store," it will not post signs as required by Texas law.)
Carrying a gun openly is banned in most malls, such as Galleria, NorthPark Center, and Stonebriar Centre, and movie complexes, including AMC, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse. Other establishments that ban openly carried guns, according to Gun Free Businesses, include Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, IKEA, and all 24 Hour Fitness and YMCA locations.
The Jack in the Box fast-food chain bans open carry, but Starbucks apparently does not, says one CultureMap reader who left a Houston location on Sunday when he was told by an employee it's okay for a permitted gun owner to openly carry a firearm in the coffee shop. (According to a previously announced policy, Starbucks doesn't ban guns but prefers that customers not bring firearms into their stores.)
Gun Free Businesses has a long list of businesses that do not allow open carry, including Chili's, Maggiano's Little Italy, Buffalo Wild Wings, California Pizza Kitchen, Radisson Hotels, T.G.I. Friday’s, Chipotle, Chuck E. Cheese, Chuy’s, and many more. "Alcohol and guns don’t mix well," a Treadsack spokesperson told Gun Free Businesses.
Many restaurants are scrambling to determine policy, and both sources are constantly updating their lists, so the best thing to do if you are unsure is to ask the restaurant or store owner.
Under the new law, it is prohibited to openly carry a weapon at schools, hospitals, nursing homes, sporting events, or airport security checkpoints.