Chipotle goes gun free

Source Flickr Author Thomas Hawk

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 — Chipotle, popular purveyor of burritos and tacos made with “organically” produced ingredients, has decided that it has had enough of armed customers. It announced yesterday that firearms will no longer be allowed in their restaurants.

This announcement came in response to pro-gun protests in Texas which included the open carrying of firearms in support of gun rights, and saw protesters bring their weapons into a Chipotle restaurant.

Chipotle management argues that their decision is justified based on the apparent culture of fear that firearms spread when law abiding citizens practice their rights.

This is the statement from Chipotle:

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“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 customer’s anxiety and discomfort … We are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”

Chipotle, like Starbucks, has added customers to the list of menu items available in their establishments. Chipotle has every right to demand that customers leave their guns in their cars. Chipotle has every right to protect their image, but their argument for transforming their restaurants into “gun free zones” is suspect.

First, if Chipotle management cared about the right of individuals to keep and bear arms but were disturbed by what happened in their Texas store, they could have just banned open carry in their restaurants. They have the right to do that. And because they have that right, it is unnecessary that they ban firearms altogether. It makes one wonder whether other factors were at play.

Second, if management is worried that someone might have a gun and use it to harm their employees and customers, then preventing law abiding citizens from carrying in their restaurants leaves armed criminals as an unchecked, firearm-toting threat. The average gun owner will obey the posted sign and not bring their firearm inside. The average criminal will not.

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Third, the open-carry protest in Texas was an ill-advised move. While open carry is perfectly legal and practiced in many states, it provided the gun-hating media a chance to point and say “look! Scary guns!” and make gun owners look like bullies.

Gun owners shot themselves in the foot on this one. The concern with causing customers anxiety and discomfort is interesting.

If protesters were causing anxiety and discomfort in that particular Chipotle, the store manager should have asked them to leave.

Law abiding gun owners are not going to shoot a Chipotle manager dead for that; the next time they would eat Chipotle again would be as their last meal in prison, and that is too long to go between Chipotle.

But declaring that every Chipotle nationwide is to be gun free as a result of that incident makes it seem as though they were waiting for an excuse to announce that decision. Gun free zones are a bad idea, especially when they are announced all over the news.

With one exception, every major shooting in recent memory has occurred in a gun free zone, where shooters know that no one will shoot back. But these are old arguments, and this is a new issue. What about the anxiety and nervousness of gun owners who feel unsafe being in a place where they cannot defend themselves?

They then have to hope that a police officer is nearby, and that he happens to come in when a criminal is about to commit an act of violence. Stripping individuals’ rights to protect themselves because people might be nervous about guns is wrong. Apologies, non-gun owners, but my right to be safe and secure in the knowledge that I can defend myself trumps your alleged anxiety.

This has been a long time coming; in all likelihood, Chipotle has been sitting on this announcement for a while. Sorry to say, but score one for Moms Demand Action.

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