Open-carry gun laws are stirring up a fresh debate about citizens' rights in Connecticut. A cell phone video uploaded to LiveLeak on January 12, captures a Subway customer carrying a holstered pistol and several Bridgeport, Conn. cops in a heated debate over the state's open-carry law.
In the cell phone footage shot by the customer, an officer repeatedly requests to see the man's open-carry permit. "Why do I have to show you my permit? I don't have to show you my permit, right? I'm not showing you anything. I want to order my food and get up out of here," says. "Let me see your permit please," the officer responds. "Why are you requesting my permit?" the customer asks. The officer replies: "Because you're armed in a public..." to which the armed customer asks pointedly, "Is that illegal?"
Later, several more officers approach the man, one of whom asks the restaurant to refuse the man service. The man then leaves, but continues to argue with the officers. In a second video, the man appears to be followed into another shop by an officer who continues the confrontation over the permit, stating that the department has received multiple complaints from business owners in the area.
According to the Connecticut Post, state laws and police training mandates appear to contradict each other when it comes to citizens' rights to open carry. Under state law, people may open carry, so long as they're also carrying their permit. State police have been trained that they should not arrest citizens "merely for publicly carrying a handgun in plain view." However, if an individual does not produce his or her permit, officers may arrest them for interfering with police. In comparison, the law specifies that police may only request to verify permits or identification if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the gun carrier has committed a crime. Business are also permitted to refuse service to open-carry customers under state law.
Across the country, open-carry laws have divided restaurant owners. A new Texas open-carry law that took effect on January 1 allows citizens to display guns in public spaces. Restaurants such as Houston barbecue joint Brooks Place have welcomed the change by offering gun-toting customers meal discounts. Dueling Irons in Idaho has also come out in favor of open-carry permits. Others are decidedly less pleased with the new policies: Major brands like Chipotle and Panera have enacted policies asking patrons to keep firearms out of their restaurants.
Update, 1/15, 12:11 p.m.: A Subway spokesman tells Eater that the company does not have a blanket policy on firearms at its restaurants. "All Subway restaurants are individually owned and operated by franchisees who are part of the communities in which they live and work. We require franchisees to follow all local, state and federal laws."