Newest Gun Free Zones: Sonic & Chili’s?

Sonic and Chili’s released statements Friday making the restaurant chains the latest flashpoint in the nationwide open carry debate. Both chains have asked patrons to leave their guns at home with Sonic releasing a statement saying:

“We’re asking that customers refrain from bringing guns onto our patios or into our indoor dining areas.”

Chili’s similarly stated:

“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.”

The statement issued by Sonic appears more stringent in that it would impact those patrons exercising their right to concealed carry, though it’s unclear how Sonic restaurant staff would be aware as to whether or not its customers were carrying guns while the firearms are concealed. This lends credence to the argument that its statement may be partially unenforceable.

Chili’s, on the other hand, has addressed only customers wishing to open carry guns onto its properties, leaving room for adherence to local and state laws on the remainder of the issue including concealed carry.

The statements issued by the two restaurant chains are the latest actions in a nationwide gun rights debate as earlier this month, as reported by The Inquisitr, Dallas, Texas area gun rights activists began open carrying their firearms into a local Chipotle location. The activists were later asked to leave the location despite Chipotle’s absence of a policy on this issue which prompted the Denver-based nationwide restaurant chain to release a statement on the gun rights open carry issue.

“The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Chipotle stopped short of an outright ban also noting in its statement that “there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue” and “it is the role of elected officials and the legislative process to set policy in this area.”

These events follow on the heels of Starbucks issuing a similarly worded statement last September in which its CEO, Ed Schultz, posted in an open letter on its website in response to open carry gun rights protests at its locations that “for these reasons, 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.”

The statements issued by Sonic and Chili’s were celebrated by anti-gun groups like Everytown For Gun Safety. For pro-gun groups, validity for their position may have already made itself known as a car hop at a Sonic in Topeka, Kansas was robbed while on duty on the same day the Oklahoma-based company announced its position on this issue.

There’s no doubt the nationwide gun rights debate will carry on, but for the time being, customers at Sonic and Chili’s are being asked to leave their guns at home.