After a guns rights demonstration that involved members of the Open Carry Texas organization carrying loaded, military-grade assault rifles into a Dallas-area Chipotle, the Denver-based burrito chain recently released a statement asking its customers outside of law enforcement to not carry firearms into its stores (see the Twitter photo of the assault weapon event inside the Dallas-area Chipotle here).
The issue of gun ownership or gun rights has become one of the most contentious debates in the country. Chipotle has never taken a position on this issue, as we focus instead on our mission to change the way people think about and eat fast food.
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.
Historically, we felt it enough to simply comply with local laws regarding the open or concealed carrying of firearms, because we believe that it is not fair to put our team members in the uncomfortable position of asking that customers refrain from bringing guns into our restaurants. However, because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers, we think it is time to make this request.
We acknowledge that there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue. 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.
We always welcome the exchange of ideas and opinions: it is one of the many things that make our country such a special place. But this issue is not central to the operation of our business, and we do not feel that our restaurants should be used as a platform for either side of the debate.
The request from Chipotle comes after some customers in the Dallas-area store reportedly became distressed after seeing the public brandishing of semi-assault weapons. Chipotle’s statement also comes after the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a petition that garnered over 10,000 signatures asking Chipotle for swift response after the display in the Dallas-area store.
Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, made this statement in a press release after Chipotle issued its response:
Moms are grateful to Chipotle for taking quick action today to stand up for the safety and security of our families. Businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons—especially in states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automotive riffles 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.
Forbes.com reported that Open Carry Texas founder C.J. Grisham responded to the public outcry of the Dallas-area incident, calling the activity “simply a meal following an event” and not a “demonstration”.
Grisham’s comments from Clare O’Connor’s Forbes.com report:
We don’t go there just to carry guns into a restaurant,” he said. “We always let the manager know we’re coming. We try very hard to make people feel comfortable. We’re peaceful, we’re looking for a place to eat, but we have guns,” he said. “If we’re not welcome, we’re not going to spend money there.
As of last October, conceal-carry permit holders in North Carolina are allowed to bring firearms into restaurants and bars. Chipotle maintains three locations in the Raleigh area.