Restaurants Dealing with Open Carry Law
For more than three months, licensed Oklahomans have had the legal right to openly carry weapons.
Since that time restaurants are rethinking their policies on weapons in their establishments.
It’s not been easy decision for some.
Walking into Rococo’s Restaurant in the North Park Mall, a small piece of paper on the door reads “No Openly –Carried Weapons Allowed”.
The owner, Bruce Rinehart, explains the restaurant doesn’t have any kind of prohibition against concealed carry and admits the decision to not allow open carry wasn’t an easy one.
“I said hey personally I have an issue with the open carry just because I think it’s going to make people uncomfortable and a lot of guests confirmed that, then on the same token I want to respect those who want to carry and so how do I balance that.”
Rinehart says he’s actually received some positive feedback on his compromise policy.
Gun rights advocate Miles Hall who owns H&H Gun Range doesn’t believe people would over react on seeing a licensed gun owner openly carrying a weapon.
“If they would take a deep breath and calm they’re going to find that it’s not a problem, bad guys don’t follow the rules to begin with and if open carry keeps somebody from doing harm to somebody else that’s not a bad thing either.”
Hall says he does support the idea of no open carry, while still allowing for concealed carry.
Down at the Bricktown Brewery, there is no sign on the door yet, but the owners have a policy against weapons altogether.
If a patron with a gun walks in then a hostess is required to get a manager who will deal with the situation.
Co-owner Charles Stout says he and his partners who are gun owners did think long and hard about this decision.
“We decided probably the best thing to do with our atmosphere and our excitement and our volume of alcohol sales that we’d just say let’s you and I not bring our guns in and we’ll ask that our guests not bring our guns in.”
Stout says the same policy exists in the other businesses owned by the group, Poblano Grill and Old Chicago.
Since November when open carry took effect, there’s been the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut and calls for gun control in Washington, DC.
Miles Hall says with all that’s going on it’s really easy to blow everything out of proportion.
“Businesses when they do this if they’ll just pause a minute and figure out who it is that’s carrying these are license people who have gone through classes gone through background checks. They’re not the people you need to be concerned with. It’s the people who don’t do any of that stuff that are trying to do harm.”
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association decided when the bill was passed and enacted not to take a stand for or against open carry.
President Jim Hopper says as far as he’s concerned any patron can go in carrying a weapon as long as their following the law.
“They can unless the small business owner decides that they still have the right to not allow weapons in their establishments, so it’s really been up to the business owner on how they want to handle it, but it’s really not been an issue for us.”
Insurance companies who cover restaurants say they also haven’t changed any of their policies on liability regardless of whether signs are posted or not.
For Miles Hall the decision is easy, he doesn’t feel comfortable going into any place with a no weapons allowed policy.
“The bad guys they’re evil people but they’re not stupid and they’re going to go where they can commit the most heinous act that they can and nobody fire back at them so I’m not a big fan of these no gun signs.”
Back at Rococo’s, Rinehart says he’s happy with his final decision and the open carry law has helped him get to better know many of his customers who turned out to be gun advocates.
“A certain guest starts laughing I said ‘what so funny?’ He said ‘You didn’t know that I carry and the wife?’ And I went ‘no’ and they’ve been coming for nine years I went ‘no I had no idea’, ‘Oh yeah were huge gun people’ and I went ‘that’s funny’. And, they were one of the catalysts too for that approach, the whole just no openly carry weapons.”
While Rinehart won’t let anyone in with a weapon on the hip, he says there are still customers and employees who are packing.
By law, open carry isn’t allowed in any bar in Oklahoma.