MORE

Chipotle: Don't bring guns into our restaurants

Chipotle, a chain founded in Denver by CU grad Steve Ells, is asking that customers not bring guns into its restaurants following an incident in which open-carry supporters brought assault rifles into one of its restaurants in Texas.

"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," says a statement sent to us by a Chipotle spokesperson. "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."

Here's how the Colorado-based Chipotle characterizes the Texas incident:

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.

In response, the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America started a petition -- headlined "Burritos, Not Bullets," which is also the campaign's hashtag -- calling for Chipotle to implement "a clear policy prohibiting guns in restaurants." The gun-law reform group also posted two photos of the alleged incident, including the one above.

It is legal in Texas to openly carry "long guns," though it's illegal to openly carry handguns. In Colorado, it's legal to openly carry any type of firearm, though local governments can prohibit the practice in certain municipal buildings. And Denver has rules of its own that prohibit openly carrying a firearm anywhere in the city.

Chipotle isn't the first business to request that customers leave their guns outside. Last year, Starbucks did the same. And earlier this month, Jack in the Box followed suit.

Continue for statements from Chipotle and Moms Demand Action.   Chipotle's statement:

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.

We reached out to Chipotle to ask how exactly the chain will request that customers not bring guns into its restaurants. Will the restaurants post signs? Will employees enforce the policy? We'll update this post if and when we hear back.

Moms Demand Action's statements:

May 19, 12:41 p.m.: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a national petition today calling on Chipotle CEO Steve Ells to prohibit firearms in its restaurants after a demonstration organized by a gun extremist group brought gunmen armed with semi automatic, loaded assault weapons into a Dallas-area store this weekend.

The petition to Chipotle comes on the heels of a similar event at a Fort Worth, Texas Jack in the Box store that terrified employees so much that, according to local police, they locked themselves in the freezer. After Moms Demand Action launched a petition, Jack in the Box responded by announcing that it would enforce a prohibition of guns in its stores, stating that, "the presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences." A recent example of this is when a gun owner accidentally discharged his gun while paying for his food at a Chipotle in Utah earlier this year. The potential for risk may be increased given that Chipotle sells alcohol and research from the U.S. Department of Justice found that approximately 40 percent of those convicted of homicide had been drinking at the time of their offense.

Texas law allows people to openly carry loaded rifles in public with absolutely no training, permitting, or minimum age requirement. Combined with estimates that 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check in the U.S., this means that people can legally carry loaded rifles in Texas without ever having passed a criminal background check. There is no way for employees, customers, law enforcement or municipalities to know who these armed men are and whether they pose a threat.

"Moms want to know that when we take our families out to eat burritos, we won't be confronted with bullets," said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "We support the Second Amendment but we also need to feel safe and secure in the places we take our children. In states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automatic rifles and carry them openly in public, businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons. That's why we are calling on Chipotle and other businesses to follow Starbucks' lead and make a clear statement that firearms are not welcome in their restaurants."

May 19, 5:06 p.m.: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is thanking Chipotle today for asking customers not to bring guns to their restaurants in response to a petition launched earlier today. Moms Demand Action launched the petition after a gun extremist group brought semi-automatic, loaded assault weapons into a Dallas-area store this weekend. Within just a few hours the petition received more than 10,000 signatures.

In a statement released today to media, a spokesman for Chipotle said, "...we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel." The Chipotle statement went on to say that, "...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."

"Moms are grateful to Chipotle for taking quick action today to stand up for the safety and security of our families," said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "Businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons - especially in states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automatic rifles and carry them openly in public. Chipotle's statement that firearms are not welcome in their restaurants is bold and meaningful -- it shows that you can support the Second Amendment while also taking reasonable measures to ensure that Americans are safe and secure in the places we take our children."

More from our Gun Culture archive: "Karina Vargas, paralyzed in shooting, testifies against repealing gun background checks."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >