MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to take a few minutes to look into that new open-carry law in Texas. Dallas restaurant owner Jack Perkins tells us he usually has a handgun concealed in his front pocket. The Glock 43 is his choice at the moment as he handles the cash at his barbecue spot The Slow Bone, or his burger joint the Maple And Motor. But that doesn't mean he wants people openly carrying guns there. We called him at the Maple And Motor just before the lunch rush on New Year's Eve, the day before the new law took effect, so we could ask him why he's probably going to take advantage of a provision of the new law that allows him to ban openly-carried guns at his restaurants.
JACK PERKINS: I'm not sure many people are going to carry their guns on the outside of their clothes. But if you do - and there's a large amount of the population that - guns scare them. If there are three or four people in the restaurant all carrying guns, then you're going to be uncomfortable. And I'd just rather people not be uncomfortable.
MARTIN: So you don't have an objection to people carrying concealed weapons on your - in your businesses? It's just the open ones?
PERKINS: No, no, not at all, not at all.
MARTIN: How come?
PERKINS: It's not an overt threat. Carrying a concealed weapon is all about eventuality - things that might happen and protection. And in that case, carrying a gun outside on your person, where it's visible, is at least an implied threat. At its worst point, it's the final threat. So if there's a conflict, there's really no place else to go.
MARTIN: Why do you carry a gun all the time? You say you're carrying one right now.
PERKINS: I am. There's a lot of cash in my business. I mean, restaurants get robbed, businesses get robbed. I have employees that I would like to protect. Although, I've got to tell you, I don't know that I would get into a gunfight if provoked. But I like to have the option there to do that if I needed to.
MARTIN: But why have you though? Since you - you know, you've thought about this as a person who's kind of got a foot in both worlds. I mean, on the one hand, you are a gun owner yourself - and I presume you've taught yourself how to use it properly.
PERKINS: I have.
MARTIN: But you also have respect for people who don't have those feelings or who have different feelings about guns. You know, how would you mediate this? I mean, the fact is that there have been some truly terrible incidents in 2015 involving guns and particularly mass shootings. And, you know, a lot of people are looking for a way forward here. What's your idea?
PERKINS: Well, I believe completely in responsible gun ownership. And I believe completely in a dialogue that gets us to that point without rhetoric and venom. There's nothing in the Constitution, especially in the Second Amendment, that says we can't be smart about this. And I think if we check backgrounds, if we sell guns to people who are going to operate them responsibly and own them responsibly, I just don't understand why we can't think about it more than just feel about it.
MARTIN: I see. Before I let you go, do you think anybody's going to challenge you on your decision?
PERKINS: I don't think we're going to have confrontation. I think people will see it, they'll boycott us if they don't like it and we're fine with that. I was on the front page of the paper with this issue, and a neighborhood man knocked on the door of the restaurant because we weren't open yet and would not let my hand go as he shook it and thanked me for voicing my opinion and for it to be one of some sanity. So I don't think it's going to be a problem for us. I think the people who are rational and think things through will come and eat, enjoy themselves like they always do. And the people who aren't will just avoid us.
MARTIN: Well, good luck to you. Happy New Year.
PERKINS: Thank you. Happy New Year to you.
MARTIN: That's Jack Perkins - he owns The Slow Bone and a burger joint, the Maple And Motor, in Dallas - that's where we reached him. He's a gun-rights supporter, but we're talking to him about banning openly-carried guns in his restaurants. Mr. Perkins, thanks so much for speaking with us.
PERKINS: Thank you very much.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.