Personal Liberty Poll
Open carry activists have been in the headlines since a group of gun-wielding 2nd Amendment supporters dined at a Chipotle in Dallas, allegedly making some customers and employees in the restaurant uncomfortable.
“We had all different types of long-guns, some people had shot guns. I personally carry an AK-47,” Alex Clark, an Open Carry Texas member who attended the lunch, told a CBS. “There were a few AR-15′s there. The rifles were loaded. There’s no reason to carry an unloaded weapon — it wouldn’t do any good.”
After hyperbolic reports of the pro-gun demonstration made the Internet rounds, Chipotle released a statement asking customers not to open carry in its restaurants in the future.
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.
Chipotle’s stance on open carry is similar to that of the coffee chain Starbucks, which, after open carry advocates celebrated the company’s previously pro-gun policy of allowing open carry, told open-carry advocates to leave their guns at home when getting their caffeine fix.
The left has rejoiced over Chipotle’s decision to frown upon open-carry activism, with outlets like Huffington Post declaring, “Gun-rights activists have shot themselves in the foot, again, with a gun rally that caused another major American retail chain to declare firearms unwelcome.”
And even 2nd Amendment supporters are beginning to decry brazen pro-gun activism like dining while heavily armed— because, as some have pointed out, people who don’t want guns banned, but also don’t know enough about them to be comfortable with a restaurant filled with rifle-packing diners, may be easily swayed to the anti-gun camp.
That’s the gist of this angry open letter from a 2nd Amendment supporter to open carry activists posted on Mad Ogre:
Congratulations to the Open Carry Activists in Texas. You got the rest of us all shut out of Chipolte like you wanted.
That is what you wanted, right? Because, I mean, you guys did see what happened with Starbucks, right? So getting us shunned at one of our favorite Burrito joints had to have been your goal. Couldn’t you have picked a place we didn’t like to hold your Activism at? Like Panera Bread, Checkers, Dairy Queen…
Seriously, you guys packing the AR-15′s everywhere… You are ruining Open Carry for Everyone. The guys that insist Open Carry means they can walk around with AR-15′s and not cause problems – are causing problems. You guys are turning open carry into a 2nd Amendment Gay Rights Parade. Something no one cares about – but you throw it everyone’s faces and dare people to say something. I don’t care if you are gay… But Chaps and a Thong is not dignified attire to be out in public in. Same with an AR-15 Rifle. This isn’t Israel. This isn’t Baghdad. And you are not a PMC Contractor… What you are is an insensitive jerk throwing your rights in people’s faces at the expense of everyone else’s. That’s not the Libertarian Way.
You guys are not helping.
We want to make Open Carry a normal thing. And within the gun rights community there is enough people who are actually advocating against OC, giving preference to Concealed Carry Only. Me, I advocate “Carry”. Open or Concealed, you are talking about the condition of your Shirt Tails, not the guns… but that’s not the question here. That’s not the problem. The problem is you Clownshoes who think you need to walk into the diner with a rifle. You guys are going to bring down a lot more heat on the 2nd Amendment as a whole rather than get the Middle Ground Folks to come over to our side. “Oh those guys in the Booney Hats and Shorts with the Scary Rifles… Those were Nice Guys! I want to be like them!” No, that’s not going to happen. Instead you are going to turn those people who don’t mind guns – into people voting against guns.
If you gotta have your Rifle with you when you eat out – Go through the Drive Through!
Look, I’ve OC’d long guns many times. I’ve slung Tactical Shotguns, AR’s, PSL’s, a Sterling SMG, and rode through town on motorcycles. But the one thing I never did was was stop and go into a place of business with it, because I knew that even in rural high desert Utah, that was just not acceptable. Even while “Perfectly Legal” it’s just not acceptable behavior. Much like wearing a thong and twerking out on Main Street…. Sure, it’s legal. But it’s also not acceptable behavior.
While some of the author’s points are off, the primary gist of the letter does make sense. Open carry is preaching to the choir: Those who witness people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights by carrying a firearm in plain view and don’t panic are most likely already familiar with the right to bear arms and comfortable around firearms.
And if you don’t believe that open carry can backfire, consider for a moment how California got set on its path to draconian gun legislation.
Martin Luther King Jr., upon whose Bible Obama swore to uphold the Constitution on Monday, reportedly kept an arsenal of firearms in his home to ease his mind about the near-constant death threats he received. The peace-promoting civil rights leader even applied for an Alabama concealed carry permit, but was denied due to racism on the part of the police that had the authority to issue the permit. The Alabama permit law under which he was denied had been an NRA-backed initiative.
King knew that if his life was in danger, he could not count on the police for protection. His willingness to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights was also shared by other notable civil rights activists. Among them, Malcom X, who famously posed on the cover of Life magazine with an M1-Carbine.
The Black Panther Party took Malcolm X’s firearm brandishing and made it a part of their persona. At a time when police harassment of blacks was epidemic throughout the Nation, members learned about gun safety when they weren’t studying Marxism.
The YouTube videos of people open carrying through neighborhoods today to assert their 2nd Amendment Rights are reminiscent of similar armed displays by the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. Panther leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale said that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.”
The Panthers took to patrolling urban neighborhoods while brandishing firearms to essentially “police the police,” who were infamous for abusing black Americans at the time.
Throughout all of this, the NRA has been on both sides of the gun debate and even supported a measure signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan that set California on track to having some of the Nation’s strictest gun control laws. The 1967 Mulford Act effectively neutralized the Panther Police Patrols by prohibiting the carry of loaded guns in public.
Let us know how you and your 2nd Amendment supporting friends feel about open carry activism by taking the poll above and sharing this story. We’d also like to hear from you if you have an open carry story or need to explain more than the poll allows. Email us at email@example.com or simply leave a comment below. Some submissions may be considered for a guest post on personalliberty.com.