DENVER — Mexican fast-food eatery Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is asking customers to not bring guns to their restaurants following a meeting of open carry activists in a Texas restaurant this past weekend.
“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, a grassroots activism network she formed in the wake of the Newtown murders that is now under the umbrella of Bloomberg’s $50 million Everytown movement.
In a statement Monday, Denver-based Chipotle said the company has never taken a stance on the issue before. “Historically, we felt enough to simply comply with local laws regarding the open or concealed carrying of firearms,” the statement said.
However, “the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers,” the statement said. “Because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”
In February a gun owner with a conceal carry permit dropped his handgun inside a Utah Chipotle. The gun discharged, but no one was hurt.
Open Carry Texas founder C.J. Grisham told Forbes that this past weekend’s activity was not a demonstration, but simply a meal following an event.
“We don’t go there just to carry guns into a restaurant,” he said. “We always let the manager know we’re coming. We try very hard to make people feel comfortable.”
Last year, Starbucks Corp. also told customers that guns were no longer welcome in its cafes after it had to temporarily close a store in Newton, Connecticut, to avoid a demonstration by gun rights advocates.
Chipotle noted in its statement that “there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue.” It said it hoped that customers who oppose carrying guns in public agree that “it is the role of elected officials and the legislative process to set policy in this area.”