Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Open Carry" Backfires

(UPDATED -- See below)

I’ve been shaking my head lately at the antics of “Open Carry” extremists.  They seem to think that showing up in force at restaurants and other public venues, with handguns on their hips and assault rifles slung over their back, is somehow going to “educate” the public or “normalize” guns in our society. 

Naturally, the normal folk who are there to eat or enjoy a family outing are alarmed to see a large bunch of stern men with loaded guns come stomping into the room, proudly proclaiming their extremist views.  Police are called. Families flee.  It’s a sad sight.  But so blind are these men to their fetish that the simply can’t understand why everyone’s alarmed and the restaurants boot them out.

They keep trying though.  And it keeps backfiring on them.  Consider the following….

Texas Roadhouse:  This week, a group of Nebraska Open Carry activists intended to invade the local Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Omaha.  Alarmed, people called the restaurant to complain, and calls were even made to the police.  With all the unwanted attention, the Texas Roadhouse manager told the activists to go elsewhere.  


“I want to feed people — not have a circus in here,” [restaurant manager Steve] Jackson explained. …
Travis Doster, a national spokesperson for Texas Roadhouse, told the World Herald that the company’s policy had nothing to do with gun rights, and everything to do with being a successful business. …
But after getting calls from the Papillion Police Department, Shadow Lake’s property management and Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, the company concluded that having a group of people toting firearms in its restaurant was “not good for business.”
“I know they have their agenda. I really like to stay neutral. This thing is not a neutral issue. It’s not good for business,” managing partner Steve Jackson noted.
Naturally, the activists simply couldn’t understand.  In their minds, their “rights” were infringed by not being able to haul out their assault weapons when they get their ribeyes.  In the words of the organizer of the activists:  “It always seems like the anti-gunners always get their way instead of the pro-Second Amendment people,” he added. “That, to me, it’s getting old.”
No sir, it’s not “anti-gunners” who get their way, it’s the general public – who understand that more guns don’t make us safe. 

Chili’s and Sonic:  Also this week, some members of Open Carry Texas uploaded (and later removed) videos of them carrying assault rifles into a Sonic restaurant (see video HERE).  When the manager of Sonic told the group of 10 men that they weren’t welcome with their rifles, one gun guy complains, “That’s the second time in a row!  Man, we can’t do nothin’!  I feel like I’m a kid again; my mom won’t let me do anything!”  Another, with a little girl in hand, comments “I’m going to tell my daughter it’s not safe to be here. 

Later, they decided to go into a Chili’s restaurant and filmed it, too (see video HERE).  One of the patrons, a mother, confronted the armed men:

When a young woman approaches the group in Chili's and expresses her dismay, a guy with an assault rifle strapped across his back offers her a flyer. "Um actually, there's children here," she replies, "and you're a dumbass." As she walks away one member of the group comments mockingly, "Yes, I'm a dumbass," and then says of her, "must be Moms Demand Action," referring to the national gun reform group.

Apparently she wasn’t a member, but is now.

"Open Carry" extremists at Chipotle's
Chipotle’s:  Last week, more members of Open Carry Texas decided it would be a swell idea to carry loaded AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles into a Chipotle restaurant in Dallas.  They took pictures, then spread the pictures all over the internet.  Customers were rightly alarmed, and complained, prompting Chipotle’s to release a statement, banning the guns in their restaurants.  


Here is an excerpt (read the full statement HERE):

Recently participants from an "open carry" demonstration in Texas brought guns (including military-style assault rifles) into one of our restaurants, causing many of our customers anxiety and discomfort.  Because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

Historically, we felt it enough to simply comply with local laws regarding the open or concealed carrying of firearms, because we believe that it is not fair to put our team members in the uncomfortable position of asking that customers refrain from bringing guns into our restaurants.  

However, because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers, we think it is time to make this request.

Extremist Delcampo allowing a
child to hold his assault rifle.
Turns out those activists broke the law.  It’s illegal to openly carry rifles into establishments that serve alcohol, in Texas.  Seems they only respect the laws that favor their extremism.  Just another example of how gun activists are pro-criminal.  See the extremist on the right, in the picture (right)?  His name is Alfonso Delcampo.  Turns out he’s the worst sort of person.  Posts from his Facebook page clearly show his racist, chauvinistic nature, with pictures of him showing off his weapons, toting them around in public, and even letting a small boy handle his assault rifle.  Now those activists intend to target the BLM.

It’s a good thing Chipotle’s learned its lesson before someone gets hurt by a gun-toter.  Earlier this year, a Chipotle’s patron unintentionally fired his gun in the restaurant in Sandy, Utah. He was carrying legally too.  So, of course, he wasn’t cited.  Oopsie.  Can you hear the “freedom?”  Luckily no one was injured.

Jack in the Box:  In early May, a group of “Open Carry” activists  in Fort Worth, Texas, carried their assault rifles into a Jack in the Box restaurant, proudly announcing their “rights.”  What followed was mayhem, with scared customers fleeing and the employees locking themselves in the freezer.  When police showed up in force, the activists finally left, but there weren’t any charges.  Open intimidation of this sort isn’t illegal, unfortunately.

Jack in the Box immediately learned their lesson and released a statement prohibiting the carrying of guns in their stores.  Jack in the Box released a statement, saying, "The presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences.”


Starbucks And who can forget how, after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, gun activists nationwide targeted Starbucks stores for “Open Carry” demonstrations.

After the activists decided, in their truly blind, thoughtless, and unapologetic manner, to target the Starbucks restaurant in Newtown on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, that store closed its doors for the day, then the company issued a statement telling gun owners not to bring guns into their stores.  From the statement:

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
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.

Backfire!  It was a move that was supported by the general public, of course, according to a poll. 

Naturally, since gun activists are pro-criminal, some have commented that they will carry concealed guns in Starbucks anyhow.  “I dont care what their sign says, I carry anyway but keep it concealed under my shirt. Are they going to frisk me or put in a metal screener ??” said one.  “If someone wants to live with the illusion that nobody would ever bring a gun into Starbucks I am willing to let them continued to fool themselves,” said another.  "I carry where I want (concealed) and will continue to do so,"  said a third.  (see HERE and HERE for comments).

Other restaurant chains that have prohibited the carrying of guns in their stores, because of “Open Carry” demonstrators, include Wendy’s, Smashburger, and Applebee’sBackfire!  Backfire!  Backfire!

Open Carry Texas has finally learned their lesson (sorta), releasing a notice to its followers to cease the open carry of rifles into restaurants.  But it’s too little too late.  Their extremism has been on display, and it isn’t winning them any supporters.  And they still don’t really get it (they still advocate the carrying of black powder revolvers, which aren’t covered by the state law against open carry of handguns). 

I know if I saw someone openly carrying a gun where I and my family were eating, I would leave immediately and call the police.  There is simply no way to know what that person’s intentions are or if they have any training with their weapon.  Gun toters have yet to stop a mass shooting, even in very lenient states like Arizona, but there have been plenty of incidents of them unintentionally discharging their weapons, sometimes injuring or even killing others in the act.  That, of course, is the ultimate backfire – at the cost of innocent lives.

Addendum:  And let’s not forget this Georgia “Open Carry” activist, who strutted around a little league baseball game with his openly-carried handgun, announcing to frightened parents, “See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there's nothing you can do about it,” prompting panicked calls to 911, the cancelling of the game, and the fleeing of families with their crying children. But it was totally legal, thanks to our lax gun laws.

UPDATE (5/31/14):  Both Chili's and Sonic have now announced a ban on guns in their storesBackfire!  Backfire!  When will the gun guys learn?  Personally, I hope they keep showing up with their guns.  They help our cause immensely with their shows of extremism.

UPDATE (6/1/14):  Even the NRA has denounced these "Open Carry" extremists!  In a statement released by the NRA, the NRA uses words to describe the armed invasions of restaurants that include "weird," “downright foolishness,”  “not neighborly,” and “counterproductive."  From the NRA statement:
As gun owners, whether or not our decisions are dictated by the law, we are still accountable for them. And we owe it to each other to act as checks on bad behavior before the legal system steps in and does it for us.  If we exercise poor judgment, our decisions will have consequences. ....
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms. 

Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary.  It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates. ....
... the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community.
HERE is a related article, from Mother Jones magazine, on the NRA rebuff of Open Carry Texas's actions.

UPDATE (6/3/14):  In an interview with one of the Open Carry Texas organizers on MSBC, the spokesman refused to admit that anyone could be scared by a group of men openly carrying assault rifles into restaurants.  Just goes to show how blind they are to the effects of their actions.  From an article:
“Do you think it would scare people?” Reid asked Tov Henderson several times. “I can’t get you to answer a very simple question. Do you think it scares people to see, let alone one armed person, but a bunch of armed people in this day and age when we have so many mass shootings? Do you think it scares people?” 
“I think it has the potential to do anything, to have all kinds of emotions,” Henderson said. “It potentially could have a large range of emotions.” 
When Reid asked Henderson to name the emotions his group elicits during public appearances, Henderson said the response when his group would go to restaurants was positive.
Given the extreme positions the the NRA has taken, on every issue related to guns, I'm surprised by their statement.

UPDATE (6/14/14):  Well, the joke's on us (the American people).  Only a few hours after releasing their statement condemning the Open Carry Texas demonstrations, and after a round of outrage from the Open Carry crowd, the NRA abruptly reversed their opinion, blaming their original position on a staffer who had "expressed his personal opinion."  From an article and video:
A National Rifle Association (NRA) official publicly apologized on Tuesday for a statement the group released criticizing the growing “open carry” movement in Texas for being “downright scary,” Talking Points Memo reported.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” NRA Institute for Legislative Action director Chris Cox said on the Cam and Co. radio show. “I’ve had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece, and expressed his personal opinion. Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”
Cox’s apologetic remarks followed threats by members of Open Carry Texas in response the NRA’s statement, which criticized the group’s practice of gathering in public places while carrying assault rifles or other long firearms to protest the state ban on carrying handguns openly.

Why am I not surprised?  Common sense is too foreign of a concept for the NRA.  They wouldn't want a handful of extremists to be lost from their flock, after all, given how close their leadership is to them (despite being so far removed from the general NRA membership).

ADDENDUM (6/8/14):  The Daily Show had a funny skit about "2nd Amendment Manners" for all those (white) Open Carry advocates:

UPDATE (6/16/14):  Whataburger has now joined the ranks of restaurant chains that are disallowing guns in their stores.  See their notice, HEREBackfire!