Panera Bread, a slightly-upscale sandwich chain headquartered in Saint Louis, is joining Chipotle, Target, Starbucks, and other restaurants and retailers in asking its customers not to bring guns into their business.
The chain, which has some 2,000 locations according to The Huffington Post, issued a statement Monday that, for better or for worse, throws Panera into the ongoing national gun-control debate.
“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.”
Panera CEO Ron Shaich told CNBC that the request is voluntary. However, Panera doesn’t want to put its employees in the position of having to ask armed customers to leave.
“We’re certainly not going to put our associates in the position of confronting someone carrying a gun. We won’t put our café management in the position of being law enforcement.”
Panera’s request to ask customers to voluntarily leave their guns at home mirrors the same policies recently issued by Sonic, Chipotle, and Target.
The move comes in light of a push by gun-control advocates to address the country’s gun laws, particularly open-carry laws that allow people to visibly carry firearms on their person, in light of the Sandy Hook School Shooting, according to The Courant. The most visible and well-funded of these groups, Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, is currently waging an advertising campaign to try to pressure grocery store chain Kroger into forbidding guns in its stores, according to this Inquisitr report.
Meanwhile, gun rights advocates are waging a war, so to speak, against gun control advocates by posting online pictures of themselves carrying weapons in public places. Both sides have threatened boycotts of businesses that don’t adhere to their views. So far, as Everytown For Gun Safety spokesperson Erica Soto Lamb told The Huffington Post, the moms are winning.
“We demand that businesses act to protect their customers when lawmakers do not. Moms are the consumers-in-chief of our households, and we will reward companies that take a stand for our families’ safety.”
Does Panera’s decision to ask customers not to bring guns to its store affect your decision whether or not to do business there? Let us know below.
[Image courtesy of: Boomerang Dining]