Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America applauds Panera Bread CEO Ronald M. Shaich for announcing today that the company will proactively ask guests at its 1,800 bakery-cafés in 40 states to leave their firearms at home. Panera’s announcement comes after months of discussions between Moms Demand Action and Panera and as the Moms’ campaign to urge Kroger to prohibit open carry, launched in August, heats up with billboards, print and digital ads around the country. 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.
According to Panera’s statement, “Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, 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.”
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said, “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. Moms are the consumers-in-chief of our households and we will reward companies that take a stand for our families’ safety.”
“We urge other national companies follow suit. Panera’s smart announcement stands in stark contrast to Kroger, which has refused to adopt a similar policy despite numerous incidents of gun violence and people openly carrying rifles in their supermarkets. With a patchwork of lax gun laws and background check loopholes in states across America, businesses like Kroger have a duty to respond to public safety concerns by adopting uniform policies that ensure we can take our children to the grocery store and not have to worry about being confronted by customers carrying semiautomatic rifles who may have never gone through a background check or safety training,” Watts said.
Panera’s announcement comes on the heels of Moms Demand Action’s petition to Kroger, which has garnered more than 130,000 signatures since the campaign launched on August 18, has been bolstered by the organizations first-ever ads urging a company to prohibit open carry in and around its stores.
The advertising campaign targeting Kroger, “Guess Which One,” features individuals open carrying firearms in the aisles of a supermarket, behavior that is permitted by Kroger policies, alongside people carrying other objects that are prohibited from most Kroger stores, including outside food, skateboards and a lack of appropriate attire. In addition to appearing in newspapers across America last week, the ads are currently on billboards in Atlanta, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville and Cincinnati, where Kroger’s corporate headquarters is located. Last week, Kroger’s hometown newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, published an editorial asking the company to reconsider its current policy, writing: “…[A]bsent a common-sense approach from elected leaders that preserves both public decorum and personal rights, Kroger might do well to follow the Starbucks/Target model: Tuck that gun inside your coat, and stop scaring people who are just running in for milk and diapers.”
Target changed its gun policy in July 2014 after a petition from Moms Demand Action received more than 400,000 signatures. After Moms’ launched a campaign, in September 2013 Starbucks made it clear that only law officers should have guns inside stores going forward: “…today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas – even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”
Similarly, in May 2014, Sonic and Brinker International, which owns Chili’s Grill & Bar, prohibited the open carry of guns in their restaurants. Chipotle quickly responded to a Moms’ petition by asking customers to leave their guns at home in May. In a statement Chipotle said it made the decision “because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Also in May, Jack in the Box responded to a Moms’ social media campaign and 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.” And, in March 2014, Facebook and Instagram 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.
“Until our leaders finally require background checks on every gun sale in this country, we demand that businesses act to protect their customers when lawmakers do not,” Watts said. “ Women make 80 percent of all spending decisions for American families. We will continue fighting to show companies like Kroger that moms mean business.”