No burger for you! Well, if you are openly carrying a firearm into their establishment. Texas’ new open-carry law goes into effect January 1st. The Texas fast food chain Whataburger announced that it will not allow customers who openly carry their firearms on their premises. Discrimination?
What a conundrum for open-carry advocates who also happened to believe that Whataburger had the right to refuse service last April to a genderqueer University of Texas student who was dressed in lingerie. Looks like they won’t be able to have their hamburger and eat it, too.
No doubt, some gun-toter’s will cry discrimination. More likely some will advocate a boycott. Or maybe an enterprising fellow will open up a “Gun-Toting Liberty Burgers” restaurant right next door, advertising that they welcome customers who choose to carry weapons openly.
It comes down to private property rights, not discrimination.
There is a bedrock right that underlie all others—the right to do with your own property as you wish. It’s the reason why private clubs have the natural right to refuse membership to whomever they please, or limit it. And the same for your right to worship as you wish in your church. It’s private property, and you have the right to do with it as you please.
Property rights include the right to your most intimate and personal property–yourself. Your body is your own. As are the fruits of your labor. That right has been removed from the American people by the income tax.
In the same way, the Civil Rights Act has led to a string of unending attacks on property rights. The right to hire whom I please, or rent to whom I please gave way to laws against discrimination. Yet the right to discriminate flows out of property rights. You can’t have the right to property without the right to discriminate. Fail to stand for the right to discriminate and it’s not long before you find yourself baking a cake for a gay couple, against your religious beliefs.
The right to openly carry a weapon is to be celebrated. I would not choose to do so, for personal reasons. I strongly believe that it commits me to a level of response I would rather avoid in certain situations. On the one hand, it makes many people very uncomfortable, drawing attention to me that I would rather not have. On the other hand, it also tells ne’er-do-wells that I’ve got a weapon. That might have a deterrent effect, and it might attract an attempt to remove it from me. I simply don’t want to be in either situation. If I carry a weapon, I would prefer to keep it concealed. But that’s a personal preference.
It all comes down to doing the right thing or the right reason. Those who support liberty should support a burger establishment’s right to refuse customers of any sort, regardless of reason. Of course, it could be that enough gun-toting customers will withdraw their business that Whataburger makes the free decision to start serving them. It’s the right of customers, whose money is their property, to dispose of it as they wish. And it is the right of a business to accept or refuse it.
The ideal solution is to apply the libertarian principle of non-aggression—a person is free to do with his own body, life, and property whatever they wish, providing they don’t violate their neighbor’s property rights in the process. Carry guns however you wish to carry them. Welcome or refuse customers as you wish. Neither is aggression against one’s neighbor.
This is why libertarians do not support laws that limit drug use, prostitution, or gambling. While these may not be wise choices for those engaged in them, their actions do not harm their neighbor’s property. If I own my body, it is my right and only my right to determine what I choose to ingest or inject into it. Prostitution, while morally wrong, is ultimately a contract between two consenting adults. Gambling, while financially foolish, does no harm to anyone’s pocketbook but my own. I have the right to be stupid.
Establishing a society that supports and preserves liberty and freedom means that there will always be those who misuse their freedom to harm themselves and make wrecks of their lives. It’s the cost of such a society. But restricting the rights of the stupid restricts the rights of all us.
Don’t expect government, nor the majority of Americans who have been dumbed-down for the past century, to agree. But, hopefully, they will begin to think.
Likewise, don’t expect the nine government employees in black robes who work at SCOTUS to agree. Nor the rest of the parasites in government who make their living off of the blood of citizens. Any changes in how we understand and demand liberty to be will have to come from a more powerful decision—the decision of the people to demand the rights clearly established by God in his Law. And, first, that will require that they return to recognizing God’s Law as the guide for all earthly actions.