Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a national petition today calling on
Chili’s Grill and Bar CEO Kelli Valade and Sonic Drive-In CEO J. Clifford Hudson to prohibit the open carry of firearms after gun extremists with loaded assault weapons held demonstrations in San Antonio restaurants last week (photos here.) The Huffington Post and Mother Jones were prompted by Moms Demand Action to call on these companies to respond and both restaurants stated that they are reviewing their gun policies to protect customers and employees.
The petition to Chili’s and Sonic, which can be found here, comes on the heels of similar demonstrations at Chipotle and Jack in the Box that led both companies to take swift action to stand with Moms and enforce or adopt policies to protect the safety of their employees and customers.
“Moms should be able to take our children to family-oriented restaurants like Chili’s and Sonic and not have to worry about being confronted by customers with semiautomatic rifles,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We support the Second Amendment, but people displaying their loaded weapons at the places we take our children to eat– as these extremist gun groups have been doing – is unacceptable. How can we, or the store’s employees or law enforcement, possibly know if they are good guys or bad guys? That’s why we are calling on Chili’s and Sonic to follow the lead of Chipotle and Starbucks and clearly state that open carry is not welcome in their restaurants.”
The potential for risk is heightened given that Chili’s 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 – furthering the case that guns should not be allowed in restaurants that serve alcohol. In addition, Sonic Drive-Ins in San Antonio have experienced a spate of gun violence recently – two people were shot outside a Sonic on April 25 and an employee was shot during an attempted robbery on May 17.
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. Texas law – and the laws in a majority of states – 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 in most states can legally carry loaded rifles in public without ever having passed a criminal background check.
Just last week Chipotle quickly responded to a Moms’ petition by asking customers to leave their guns at home, “because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Earlier this month, Jack in the Box responded to the Moms’ petition 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.”
Moms Demand Action previously launched petitions that garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures asking Starbucks, Facebook, and Instagram to reform the companies’ gun policies to make customers and communities safer. Starbucks announced that guns are no longer welcome in its stores as a result of the campaign. Facebook and Instagram also announced changes to block illegal gun sales after 230,000 Americans signed a Moms Demand Action petition asking for stronger protections against illegal gun sales on the two social media platforms.