Guns and Restaurants

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 at [email protected]

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 betweenwhat 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 at[email protected] 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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