Last week, Levi Strauss Chief Executive Chip Bergh posted an open letter on LinkedIn asking the company’s customers not to bring weapons into the company’s stores. Does Bergh’s statement raise legal problems for LTC permit holders in Texas?
From Bergh’s statement:
“Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.
“So, while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.”
“It’s not an anti-Second Amendment thing,” Bergh told Fortune magazine. The denim apparel maker stopped short of issuing an outright ban on firearms. Bergh, 59, is a former U.S. Army captain and claimed he is currently not a gun owner.
“You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans and it’s really out of respect for the safety of our employees and consumers shopping in our stores,” Bergh told Fortune.
Texas & U.S. Law Shield commenters on our Facebook pages pointed out, however, that it is necessary to bring your carry handgun if you’re trying on pants, otherwise, “How do you know the jeans will fit over your IWB holster?” said Chris W. The positioning of belt loops on the waistband can also affect where OWB is most comfortable, others mentioned. And the cut and size of pockets affects pocket carry, commenters said.
The legal issue for Texas Law Shield Members is, does Bergh’s statement constitute legal notice under the state’s 30.06 and 30.07 statutes?
Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, of the Houston-based Walker & Byington law firm and a contributing legal editor for Texas Law Shield’s blog, said, “Do his statements give LTC holders proper notice to prohibit them from carrying into a Levi’s store? Nope.”
She added, “We’ve seen these sorts of statements before from Target and Starbuck’s executives, but they have no legal bearing on Texas LTC holders. In order to prohibit an LTC holder from carrying into a store, there are three ways to give effective notice.”
She described those methods: “The most popular is by posting a 30.06 sign to prohibit concealed carry or a 30.07 sign to prohibit open carry. Second, a person with apparent authority may approach a person to specifically tell them guns are not allowed on the premises. Finally, giving a written communication to a person with the proper 30.06 or 30.07 language will suffice as effective notice.”
“If Mr. Bergh wants to prohibit LTC holders from carrying into his stores, he must follow the law as it is laid out by Texas Penal Code sections 30.06 and 30.07 like the rest of us,” Byington said.
The incident that precipitated Bergh’s statement, he said, was when a customer carrying a handgun accidentally shot himself inside a Levi’s store in Commerce, Georgia. He suffered a non-life threatening injury.
Here is the text of Bergh’s open letter to customers:
An Open Letter to Customers: Our Weapons Policy
November 30, 2016
The debate in the U.S. over gun safety and gun rights is as complex as it is divisive. As a former army officer, a father and business leader, I’ve heard the arguments from all sides. And, as CEO of a 163-year-old company whose products and presence rest at the intersection of culture and community in more than 110 countries around the world, I feel a tremendous responsibility to share our position on the issue, now, at a time when clarity is paramount.
With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for this company.
We operate in hundreds of stores across every state in the U.S., and laws are different in each one. We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers. We also know that trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety. With that in mind we’ve made this decision as a business – a request not a mandate – and we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.
It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.
by Texas Law Shield Staff