Panera caves to Bloomberg anti-gun front group; Kroger is next target

The front group funded by former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Sept. 8 that St. Louis, Missouri-based Panera Bread Co., now asks its customers not to bring guns into its stores unless they are police officers.

Shannon Watts, the woman paid by Bloomberg to lead Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said Panera Bread CEO Ronald M. Shaich finally buckled after a long siege.

“We are thrilled that after months of discussions between Panera and Moms Demand Action, Panera is taking a proactive position in favor of our families’ safety by putting a new gun policy in place,” she said. “Moms are the consumers-in-chief of our households and we will reward companies that take a stand for our families’ safety.”

The move is a reckless endangerment of the company’s workers and customers. Not only are spree-shooters drawn to so-called gun free zones like foxes to a chicken coop, without armed citizens to stop a tragedy, all anyone can do is play victim until the police arrive to collect evidence and tape off the scene.

Panera did not post a statement on its corporate website, but as part of its Articles of Surrender, its capitulation was released by the Moms.

“Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome,” said the statement released by the company, which is the original Au Bon Pain chain. In 1993, Au Bon Pain bought Saint Louis Bread, but later sold off its Au Bon Pain outlets, retaining the Saint Louis Bread operations, which it rebranded as Panera. There are 1,800 units in 40 states.

The company said the presence of privately-held firearms ruins its atmosphere. “We ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer. Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates.”

Watts said Panera joins a list of companies it has bullied into restricting gun rights.

“Panera joins companies like Target, Chipotle, Starbucks, Sonic, Jack in the Box, Chili’s that responded to Moms Demand Action’s work calling for corporate responsibility on guns,” she said.

“Similarly, in May 2014, Sonic and Brinker International, which owns Chili’s Grill & Bar, prohibited the open carry of guns in their restaurants,” she said. “Chipotle quickly responded to a Moms’ petition by asking customers to leave their guns at home in May.”

The Chipotle statement was particularly galling: “The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.”

The next big target for the Moms is Kroger’s supermarket, Watts said. The group began its campaign Aug. 18, and so far claims to have collected 180,000 signatures.

Moms released a video commercial and will soon post billboards Cincinnati, the home of its corporate headquarters, she said.