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Poll suggests rifle-toting OC advocates went too far at Chipotle

Not all open carry advocates alarm people. Jim Beal was at the state capitol in Olympia when this photo was snapped.
Dave Workman

A poll started yesterday by the Guns Save Lives (GSL) blog, in the wake of Chipotle’s announcement that it doesn’t want people bringing guns into its restaurants, shows an overwhelmingly negative reaction to what another story called an “outrageous stunt” that apparently frightened other patrons at the Dallas-area eatery.

The image of two rifle-toting guys showing off their hardware inside that restaurant has streaked across the internet. And now Open Carry activists may well be asking themselves if this sort of thing goes way off the grid, hurting their cause rather than helping it.

According to the GSL poll, the image and the idea of openly carrying long guns is drawing nearly 85 percent negative reaction, and the GSL website is not one frequented by Brady Campaign activists. It is popular with firearms rights activists. If gun people think this was a bad idea, that’s not good news for people who push the envelope with rifles.

Following Chipotle’s announcement, which was not unlike the request – not a demand – by Starbucks that its stores not be turned into political football fields, anti-gun groups including the Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action claimed credit. Clearly, this is being perceived and reported by the press as a win for gun prohibitionists.

No business has outright banned guns. They just don’t want to see them. If some activists see that as hypocrisy, consider the perspective of the business owner. They’re interested in making money and they are not interested in having their property serve as the backdrop for a political fight.

In Texas, where the incident occurred, there is no legal open carry of handguns. Open Carry activists are working to change that, but because of this incident, that effort may have suffered a serious setback. Stalwarts may insist otherwise, but in the court of public opinion, perception is reality and in this case, the reality of a large fellow in a camouflage hat, baggy T-shirt and shorts, and his much smaller companion in dark glasses, a brighter T-shirt and denims – both carrying large semi-auto rifles – is a reality that sets off alarms.

At least one attorney out there has apparently suggested to his colleagues that they tell their clients not to pose for photos in restaurants while holding rifles. This could have a detrimental impact on any future legal defense if they ever happen to use a gun in self-defense, the reasoning goes.

This gives rise to the question: Is it productive to make a political statement with a gun? Maybe renting a billboard is the better approach when making a statement.

All is not well in the Texas OC community, according to KWTX. Earlier this month, Open Carry Texas reportedly “parted ways” with its Tarrant County affiliate following an incident at a fast food restaurant. Employees reportedly locked themselves into the freezer while a witness called police. but this story is being disputed. This was apparently the second time that Tarrant County OC activists showed up somewhere carrying long guns without notifying police.

In other states, Washington included, open carry of handguns is not only legal, but it has the added benefit of not raising eyebrows or alarms in the same manner that people carrying rifles does. This past weekend, OC activists held their annual campout near Wenatchee, and by all accounts, it was a relaxing family affair.

As the GSL blog now reports, “In the last 24 hours many Second Amendment writers, advocates, and legal minds have voiced their concern that openly carried rifles in private businesses are not the way to advance gun rights, and only result in more businesses taking a stand on the gun issue.”

At last check, slightly more than ten percent of the GSL poll respondents think carrying rifles into private businesses helps the cause. Only 5.6 percent are not sure. The remaining majority thinks it hurts the cause.

A few people have suggested that carrying a rifle into a restaurant is like Rosa Parks taking a seat in the front of the bus. Parks, however, wasn't toting a long gun.

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