Chili's and Sonic Ban Guns in Their Restaurants,But Not Because of the UCSB Shooting
Following in the much-praised footsteps of Chipotle, Chili's and Sonic Drive-In have now banned guns on their premises, although they both said the timing of their decision had nothing to do with last week's rampage in Santa Barbara. Instead, they were motivated for the same reason Chipotle was: a group of guns rights' activists decided to take their assault rifles into Sonic and Chili's restaurants in a type of pro-gun demonstration that happened to backfire. Epically.
Earlier this month, pro-gun activists from Open Carry Texas — the same group whose picture showing them sitting with assault rifles at a Texas Chipotle went viral less than two weeks ago — took their military-style weapons to a Sonic and a Chili's restaurant. They posted two videos of their visits (during which they were refused service) on YouTube on May 19. Although they removed them soon after,the videos drew the attention of the anti-gun group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who called on Chili's and Sonic to ban firearms at their businesses.
On Friday, Sonic and Chili's joined Chipotle, as well as Starbucks, Wendy’s, Applebees and Jack in the Box, in asking their patrons to leave their guns at home. Said Sonic Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Lenow, according to CNBC:
While we historically have relied upon local laws to guide how we address the display of guns at drive-ins, recent actions required we carefully reconsider this approach. We've considered the views and desires of our customers and employees that staff the drive-ins across the country. Accordingly, we're asking that customers refrain from bringing guns onto our patios or into our indoor dining areas. With respect to the storage of guns in vehicles, we ask that our customers continue to honor local laws.
On Friday, there was an outpouring of support on Twitter, with the hashtag #shakesnotshotguns gaining traction. Moms Demand Action also posted a victorious statement on their Facebook page, saying: "Sonic Drive-In and Brinker International, including Chili's Grill & Bar, today released statements asking customers not to bring guns to their restaurants, in response to a petition launched by Moms last weekend."
Open Carry Texas' aggressive tactics have actually misfired (no pun intended) in more ways that one. As Mother Jones reports, last week, the group essentially urged its supporters to stop making them look bad. "We have decided the prudent path, to further our goals, is to immediately cease taking long guns into corporate businesses unless invited," they said in a statement. Good choice.