The President of the San Antonio Police Officers Association says he is is pleased that the managers of a downtown restaurant have apologized for asking an officer to leave because he was carrying his service weapon, but Detective Michael Helle says this may be an opportunity for employers across the state to educate their employees on state laws covering the legal carrying of handguns, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“While we hope this wasn’t an example of anti-police bias, at the very least this incident shows that public-serving establishments need to be better educated about state gun laws, particularly as they apply to Police Officers," Helle said in a statement.
The officer, who was no in uniform but was wearing what the SAPD calls a 'soft uniform' of a badge and a weapon, was asked to leave a birthday party at the Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, when an employee said firearms were not permitted inside the restaurant. Helle said even though the officer, who has not been identified, knew he was within his legal rights, he left so as 'not to cause a disturbance to other diners.'
The Restaurant said it “supports, respects and appreciates everything our law enforcement does to keep each and every one of us safe, day in and day out.”
Helle said a lot of questions have been raised since the Legislature in 2015 and 2017, passed new laws regulating the ability of private businesses, which are known as 'public accommodations' to prohibit openly carried and concealed carry weapon on their property.
Helle pointed out that law enforcement officers, whether they are on or off duty, have an absolute right to carry a police issued weapon into any public accommodation, regardless of the facility's policies on public carrying of weapons.
Helle says that covers " Hotels, motels, or other places of lodging; retail businesses or other commercial establishments or an office building to which the general public is invited; sports venues; and any other places of public accommodation, amusement, convenience, or resort to which the general public or any classification of persons from the general public is regularly, normally, or customarily invited."