Gun and Restaurants

Guns and Restaurants This was an alert in the Self Reliance Institute.

Let’s discuss something that has been receiving a lot of attention in the media and in the Second Amendment rights community – the lawful carrying of guns in restaurants.

I suspect many of you will agree with the first part of what I have to say and will be offended by the second part.

But I hope you’ll read it all and then share your thoughts with me

Let’s get started.

In recent months, a small number of individuals have taken it upon themselves to test how various restaurant chains would react to a group of “patrons” openly carrying guns – in most cases, long guns – as they attempt to enter those restaurants and be served.

These incidents have caused confusion on the part of everyone involved, especially the press.

Here’s how the Washington Times described the issue and circumstances this weekend from the latest incident in “Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In tell gun owners to leave firearms at home” – a somewhat misleading headline atop an even more misleading article.

“Sonic-Drive-In and Chili’s Bar & Grill both issued statements asking diners to refrain from bringing concealed weapons into their restaurants, even if they have a permit, NBC News reported Friday.

“Sonic Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Lenow told the news agency in an email that while the drive-in chain respected current gun laws, certain actions led to new consideration for their restaurants’ policies.

“’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,’ he said.

“Chili’s parent owner Brinker International issued a statement asking customers to keep their handguns out of plain sight following recent incidents at some of its restaurants.

“’We recognize that the open carry of firearms in restaurants creates an uncomfortable atmosphere and is not permitted under many local liquor laws. So, we kindly ask that guests refrain from openly carrying firearms into our restaurants and we will continue to follow state and local laws on this issue,’ Brinker public relations manager Ashley Johnson said in an email to CNBC.”

There is so much wrong in this news report – based on an NBC News report, “Chili’s, Sonic Toughen Stance on Guns,” that it’s beyond frustrating. And it follows faulty reporting when earlier incidents involving Chipolte Mexican Grill and Starbucks took place.

Most important, contrary to the first paragraph in the Washington Times piece quoted above, neither Sonic nor Chili’s specifically referenced “concealed weapons.” In fact, if you look at the email from Sonic Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Lenow, he specifically references the “display of guns.” That certainly leads to the logical conclusion that he was discussing individuals openly carrying a firearm as compared to concealed carry.

Further, the statement from Chili’s (see above) specifically references “open carry” – not concealed carry – twice in one paragraph.

So it seems clear both restaurants are referencing open carry laws and the open carry of firearms, not concealed carry. This also makes sense as the incidents that sparked the statements from the restaurants involved open carry, not concealed carry.

Now for my thoughts that you might find both agreeable and disagreeable.

For clarity, let’s ignore the confusion on the part of the media when it comes to the difference between open carry laws, concealed carry laws, and our inalienable rights under the Second Amendment. Most reporters, even at the conservative Washington Times, don’t have a clue when it comes to the Second Amendment and the current state of gun laws.

Instead, let’s focus on open carry vs. concealed carry when it comes to restaurants. And, in so doing, let’s differentiate between what we can lawfully do and what we should do once we apply common sense.

So here’s the part you’ll probably find agreeable.

In many states it is lawful to openly carry firearms, including long guns. As a Second Amendment purist – in fact, as a Bill of Rights purist – I support the right of any individual to openly carry a firearm. I will support the right of that individual to openly carry a firearm in almost every circumstance and every location that I can imagine.

Having stated that – here comes the part you might not agree with – I think anyone who openly carries a firearm (hand gun or long gun) into a restaurant (or most any other public establishment) is a fool.

Let me explain.

If you are openly carrying a firearm in a public establishment that might be a target for robbery – in other words, almost any business in America – you might as well paint a sign on your forehead that says, “SHOOT ME FIRST.”

Even without the possibility of a robbery, you are openly (pun intended) inviting trouble with some idiot who decides he’s going to challenge your right to openly carry. And if that challenge becomes a physical confrontation, well, that’s not a good situation for anyone.

So let’s apply a bit of common sense.

When it comes to your personal safety and your ability to tactically defend yourself against an assailant who places you in imminent fear of death or serious bodily harm – the legal reason to employ deadly force – you are far better off carrying a concealed handgun than openly carrying a firearm.

Why? Because you have the element of surprise and that is always to your advantage. Further, if you are properly concealing your handgun, you’ll never have to worry about what an establishment’s policy is – they’ll never know you are armed.

In short, while you may have the legal right to open carry, concealed carry is the right thing to do.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know by emailing me and I’ll use your thoughts (I won’t identify you personally) for further discussion on the best way to use our Second Amendment rights in a future advisory.

Be safe and secure,

Rob Douglas

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Leave A Reply (18 comments so far)

  1. cactusbob
    8 years ago

    Excellent observations and common sense in this article. Of course, in a society where schools suspend or otherwise discipline children for pointing a finger for a gun, or nibbling a cookie so that it has the shape of a gun, or even play with toy guns AT THEIR HOME, common sense is probably not welcome everywhere, and one has to decide what is really important.

  2. James Williams
    8 years ago

    Rob, I agree with you completley. I am former law enforcement, a now-and-then civilian firearms trainer, and a frequent military & police trainer. I strongly urge all my students to consider the advantages of stealth as part of their warrior mindset. Concealed carry is stealth carry. Open carry gives up all the advantages of concealed carry and gives you nothing in return. BTW, concealed carry isn’t just for pistols, it works for long arms, too. I can and do carry an AR-15 with me in a Cavalry Arms concealment bag that looks like a beach chair caddy. I’ve taken it with me to the beach, into restaurants, even into Starbucks, and nobody was the wiser. There is simply no valid tactical reason for anyone to openly carry their firearms. Political reasons, perhaps; but tactical, no.

  3. Steve
    8 years ago

    I think that it is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country that We the People live with the very real possibility of having the rights set forth by the founding fathers of this nation trampled by everything from a greedy government to special interest groups to individuals that want removal of anything that they disagree with. This country was founded on the principal of respecting the differences among people, and protecting the rights of the individual from the demands of the masses.

    That being said, common sense needs to be the guide of the individual. I have often said, having the right to do something means accepting the consequences of acting on that right. I have the right to tell my boss he is retarded. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for making that statement. I would likely be terminated from my job for making that statement. More on the point of the subject, I have the right to openly carry a firearm. The consequences are numerous. As stated in the article, first and foremost you become a target for the criminal intent on committing a crime. Second, also mentioned above, you will deal with businesses that do not wish for you to be in their establishment with said firearm. Third, there is the law enforcement issue. While you may be exercising your constitutional rights, you will draw the attention of law enforcement officers who are not accustomed to seeing individuals walking with a weapon on their belt, or carrying a rifle. In Self Defense, the idea of carrying a firearms is personal protection. The best means of protecting yourself is to not draw attention to yourself. If you are walking down the street with a rifle on a sling, or a pistol on your thigh, you are going to draw attention to yourself. You are in my opinion breaking the first rule of personal protection by drawing the attention.

    8 years ago

    I really won’t agree or disagree with you. But common sense is the best policy.. I live in a state that has both concealed and open carry. During hunting season there are all kinds of pick-ups with long guns in the racks in the back windows. Also we have a Sonic here too….,,,,,, if this Sonic starts this, there is a good chance that they may loose a lot ob business. My real concern is this though,, ” If they don’t want us to open carry because it upsets the “CUSTOMERS” then why is it okay for an off duty law enforcement person able to do this and no one gets upset. What is the difference????? I, myself feel safer carrying my own weapon, open or concealed in the public now days that really relying on someone else to protect me. “JUST MY FEELINGS”!!!!!!!

  5. Robert Tocci Sr
    8 years ago

    I agree with your summary.

  6. John Clark
    8 years ago

    Rob You did a great job of hitting the nail on the head!!

  7. Donald Stephens
    8 years ago

    I agree 100%. Its just common sense. Thank you.

    8 years ago

    I totally agree with your line of thinking on both counts. I am a disabled Marine veteran of the Korean war and a former San Diego County Deputy Sheriff. I have had a concealed carry permit for some time now. I feel naked without my weapon of choice. Very few of my relatives or close friends even know this. It is not my place to broadcast that I might a hindrance to anyone desiring to do bodily harm. Keep up the good work.

  9. William B
    8 years ago

    Of course it makes no sense to purposely irritate folks with this issue.

    Concealed carry is appropriate. I would much prefer to be legally armed even when a business owner “prefers” no guns in the shop. There is no need for them to ever know I carry. Once the business becomes so irritated as to POST no carry signs at the property I instantly become a law breaker despite having that license (and right) to carry because it takes a lot for me personally to leave it behind. Respect and intelligence can go a long way.

  10. john west
    8 years ago


  11. Ronald Howard
    8 years ago

    I sagree with your feelings on the second amendment, and I feel we should not require a license or permit from anyone to keep and bear arms. However, I also agree that it is foolish to carry openly as it does put a target on your back, no matter where you are carrying. And, while I feel it is your right to carry openly I also feel it is especially foolish to try to force businesses to accept open carry by demonstrations that can, and do, cause the businesses to become even more defensive about customers carrying gun, open or concealed. Respectful negotiation usually works much better than direct confrontation in getting someone to consider your position on any issue.

  12. Fischenbach
    8 years ago

    Even in Arizona, which is an open carry state, common sense would dictate that concealed carry is a better option. You can eat where you want and you will not draw unnecessary attention to yourself in the process. While I believe that the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment give us the “right” to carry whatever we want where ever we want, what is really important is not making a silly point by doing it, but protecting what is important: my family and myself.

  13. Jerry
    8 years ago

    Good comments. I have a concealed gun permit & carry my gun concealed at all times. I grew up around guns and most of my friends carried some type of firearm, mainly for hunting. So having a gun in your car or on you was never a big deal.

    I am retired now, but the company I worked for did not allow employees to have guns on their property. Right or wrong, that was the policy and I enforced it. The first time I found someone with a gun, I advised them of the policy and told them to take it home at the first opportunity. I advised them of the company policy and the next incident would result in immediate dismissal. Everyone respected the policy and was never a big issue.

    I had many customers come in with concealed guns, a few with open carry (mainly law enforcement). The company did not have any restrictions on customers except common sense. In over 44 years in retail business, I never had an issue with customers having guns on them.

  14. JerryG
    8 years ago

    I agree 100%.
    I have my OHIO CCW permit and only carry concealed.
    OHIO is an ‘open carry state’, but it is not practical for the reasons that you clearly stated above.

  15. M B
    8 years ago

    Rob i totally agree with you and people who insist on open carry need to check there EGO at the door before going into any establishment. There are people looking for any issue to not only take away the open carry policy but the concealed and those who want to push just make it harder today to keep our 2nd Amendment alive and unchanged. M.B.

  16. Wesley Gould
    8 years ago

    I agree with you that concealed is the best carry scenario because of the surprise element, and not causing other patrons to be ill at ease with the viewing of a firearm. (children and such)

    But could you address the subject of restaurants that have the sticker on the front door with a gun and a line going through it? Of course this indicates that the management/ownership does not approve of guns being taken into their business at all. But what if someone decides to carry concealed anyway? Let’s say some crazed near-do-well comes in the door shooting all people in sight. So the concealed carry person unloads on the perpetrator killing him in self defense and saving others also. What kinds of law suits would that start? What then are the legal ramifications of this scenario assuming that the ownership would pursue legal action?

  17. Marty
    8 years ago

    I agree with your views completely !!

  18. Deborah Buckley
    8 years ago

    I totally agree with you. Only an idiot would walk into a restaurant with a gun in plain sight…unless they are planning to rob the place. People need to use common sense.

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