Two long-gun open carriers in Dallas put Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle in a no-win situation this past weekend, resulting in the chain deciding Monday to follow Starbucks’ lead in asking gun owners to leave their guns at home:
Chipotle is asking customers not to bring firearms into its stores after it says gun rights advocates brought military-style assault rifles into one of its restaurants in Texas.
The Denver-based company notes that it has traditionally complied with local laws regarding open and concealed firearms.
But in a statement Monday, the company said that “the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.”
The announcement came after a petition by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has called on other companies to ban firearms in their stores as well. The group said its petition was in reaction to open-carry gun activists appearing at a Dallas-area Chipotle restaurant over the weekend.
I’m sure that it didn’t help that the shorter of the two was carrying his weapon at a low ready—arguably “Brandishing” under Texas law—and also has a Facebook page where he seems to reference wanting to do drugs and to sell drugs, which gun control supporters capitalized upon in obvious delight.
I want you to think about something. Moms Demand Action’s limited success in the past year seems directly related to capitalizing on the behavior of rifle open carriers again and again. Despite claims of local success from rifle open carry supporters in the areas where they are carried out, it is clear that the tactic is clearly and unambiguously doing far more damage to the cause of gun rights on a national level.
Should we continue supporting tactics that consistently result in wave upon wave of stories portraying gun owners in the worst possible light, lead to the implementation of policies that negatively affect the relationship between gun owners and otherwise neutral businesses and the general public, and gives gun control groups the oxygen they need to keep from slipping into irrelevance?
A Bearing Arms reader emailed the following suggestion as an alternative undertaking (I’ve added some paragraph breaks to aid reading):
The largest “sure thing” with winning people over is that the method of protest needs to change. Groups of people open carrying is difficult to approach, even for people who support gun rights, and scares people away much faster than anything else that activists do.
I was thinking that the best thing to do would be more akin to a festival than a protest, high energy, family appeal, and then do classes on gun safety and things like that in an environment that makes it easy to forget that “really pushy person who tried to force his opinion on you”. That would be approachable for people who’re on the fence about the issue or curious about the event, and allow advocates to spread their views in a friendlier environment. This would create fun moments associated with meeting activists rather than a bunch of people crowding you with signs…
People who lean towards gun control but aren’t full blown “advocates” would naturally be more open to what the gun rights groups have to say if they clearly become the more approachable group, then simple use that opportunity to explain that they’re trying to save lives and not just to hold onto something other people may not understand a need for.
Generally people tense up and become very uncomfortable when they see a large group of protesters holding signs (or guns). That makes them want to avoid it or get through it as quickly as possible, which means taking in little to no actual information about the issue. I feel the best way to spread a message would be to hold a celebration welcoming all the people you’re trying to win to your side. A celebration is also much harder for the media to cast in an extremely poor light, but if well planned could still get a lot media coverage.
I don’t know if this festival model will win a lot of converts, but it will certainly do less damage than the current practice of long-gun open carry which is steadily losing ground for us not just in the locations where it is practiced, but on a national level.