Following a incidents in which activists brought assault weapons to Sonic and Chili's restaurants and posted videos on YouTube, the corporate owners of those chains released statements Friday asking customers to keep their guns out of their businesses.
The restaurants' statements follow outrage over videos posted earlier this month by Open Carry Texas, and one week after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger stabbed three men, then went on a shooting rampage that killed three more near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Three days after the shootings, Sonic and Brinker International, the owners of Chili's, told Mother Jones that they were considering firearm policy changes given the recent events at their Texas store locations.
Patrick Lenow, Sonic Vice President, Public Relations, sent BuzzFeed the following statement:
Sonic and our franchise owners work hard to provide an inviting environment for customers and employees alike. 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.
Shortly after, Chili's parent company Brinker International followed suit, telling BuzzFeed:
At Chili's Grill & Bar, our passion is making our guests feel special in an environment where they can focus on family and friends over a great meal. Recent open carry events at our restaurants and others have prompted passionate and diverse feedback. 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.
Chili's and Sonic join other national food chains Starbucks, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Applebees, and Chipotle who have all publicly told patrons not to bring guns into their stores, regardless of what local open carry laws may dictate.
Watch pro-gun activists visit a Texas Sonic and Chili's restaurant earlier this month prompting the corporations to respond.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.