Representatives from the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain announced to media earlier this week that they are encouraging customers to leave their firearms at home. According to the company, the decision was made after several open carry advocates brought rifles into a downtown Dallas location over the weekend.
“Recently participants from an ‘open carry’ demonstration in Texas brought guns (including military-style assault rifles) into one of our restaurants, causing many of our customers anxiety and discomfort. Because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel,” wrote Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold in a statement to CNN.
The restaurant chain’s decision was praised by gun control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization which had previously launched a social media campaign to discourage firearm carry in Chipotle stores.
“Moms are grateful to Chipotle for taking quick action today to stand up for the safety and security of our families,” said Shannon Watts, the group’s founder, in a press release. “Businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons—especially in states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automatic rifles and carry them openly in public. Chipotle’s statement that firearms are not welcome in their restaurants is bold and meaningful—it shows that you can support the Second Amendment while also taking reasonable measures to ensure that Americans are safe and secure in the places we take our children.”
Some open carry advocates said they are disappointed by the company’s new position. Many view the announcement as another sign of businesses bowing to pressure from gun control groups. Among them is Alex Clark, one of the members of the Dallas Chapter of Open Carry Texas who participated in the lunch demonstration over the weekend.
“I’m honestly a little bit disappointed, but it is their right to do that as a corporation,” Clark told CBS DFW. “I don’t think they would have done that if it would not have been for Moms Against Action, which bombard Facebook and Twitter and things like that.”
Clark said that he and other members of his group were welcomed by the Chipotle employees, who did not seem to be uncomfortable with the rifles they carried. Arnold, however, stated that the company believes firearms could create an intimidating environment.
“We acknowledge that there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue,” Arnold wrote. “We have seen those differing positions expressed in the wake of this event in Texas, where pro-gun customers have contacted us to applaud our support of the Second Amendment, and anti-gun customers have expressed concern over the visible display of military-style assault rifles in restaurants where families are eating. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible citizens and we appreciate them honoring this request. And we hope that our customers who oppose the carrying of guns in public agree with us that it is the role of elected officials and the legislative process to set policy in this area, not the role of businesses like Chipotle.”
It is not the first time that a company has revised policy in the wake of open carry demonstrations. Starbucks closed its doors to firearms last year after activists began carrying guns into its stores.