Open-carry bans are about property rights

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brazoria County: (AP) Texans were given the right to openly carry their guns anywhere they wanted, which started New Year’s Day when the state’s new open carry law took effect.

“Anywhere they wanted,” actu- ally, is a bit of an exaggeration, and the most ardent of gun advocates are not too happy about it. We suggest, however, they settle down because the ground on which they are offended is one of the cornerstone arguments they used in calling for the law to be enacted — it is their right.

Likewise, businesses and other private property owners have rights, including a right under the open carry law to not allow gun owners to carry a weapon into their shops, restaurants and homes.

Among those businesses are the Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B, Corpus Christi-founded fast-food g i a n t Whataburger and national theater chain AMC, which recently took over the cinema at Brazos Mall — itself a business barring open carry on its premises.

Gun advocates will wish to frame the objections of those businesses and others as a gun rights question, when it truly is not. It is a business exercising its right to control what happens on its property, and it is not limited to guns.

Long before Lake Jackson enact- ed a smoking ban, many restaurants used their prerogative to separate smokers from other customers or prohibit them from lighting up at all. That was because a large number of patrons didn’t want to be sucking in cancerous fumes with their cheese- burger or manicotti.

Brazos Mall and other businesses also prohibit people from walking among stores with a cold one in a brown paper sack.

Among the businesses that will not allow people to open carry, in- cidentally, are many who continue to allow people to carry concealed weapons onto their property.

It is the “open” part — and recognition that seeing a bunch of modern handguns glistening from holsters will make their customers uncomfortable — that businesses are against, and as such are taking the necessary steps to prohibit the practice.

Those gun owners who believe their gun rights are being trampled are welcome to not shop at those businesses. The great majority of Texans — about two-thirds, according to a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll last legislative session — who fear open carry will turn their local restaurant into a Wild West saloon, are welcome to skip t h e places where open carry is being allowed.

That is both sides’ right, and the Constitution does not place greater weight on either. That is what the open carry argument boils down to in its simplest form. It is not about the guns, but about the right of private property owners to control what happens on their premises — be it a resident’s home or a business.

The United States Postal Service continues to exercise their property rights to disallow the open carry of weapons on their premises. They have asked local of ces to ensure posting of notices at the front door. Other local entities that remain gun prohibitive locations are Culberson County Hospital, Culberson County- Allamoore ISD and the Culberson County Courthouse where posters and notices can be found in both English and Spanish.