Would you like extra ammo with that?
Waitresses at Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., choose to serve their patrons while wearing loaded firearms holstered to their waists.
“Honestly, this is so common here that I never thought twice that: ‘This is a flair, this is a trademark, this is a gimmick, this will get people in,’ ” co-owner Lauren Boebert, 27, told msnbc.
She began carrying firearms at work a month after she established the diner with her husband in May 2013. Laws regarding the open carry of handguns vary by state. Local governments can enact regulations banning the action in a building or specific area within its jurisdiction, as long as management posts signs about the rules. Colorado doesn’t prohibit the open carry of handguns or long guns in public, and no permit or license is required.
“I didn’t think of it as an odd thing. I thought it was awesome that I didn’t have to wait to get my permit,” said Boebert, who is a mother of four sons.
Shortly after, when some of Boebert’s employees approached her about bringing their own guns to work, she complied.
The staff consists of nine waitresses, but they don’t all open carry weapons, Boebert said. They serve breakfast throughout the day and specialize in all-Angus burgers. They don’t serve alcohol.
Employees don’t need to obtain concealed-carry permits, but they must complete five hours of complimentary training with Legal Heat, a provider of concealed-firearms instruction, Boebert said. The establishment also offers the program to its customers, who, for $75, receive a meal and guns coaching. Boebert said she offers the public the opportunity to enroll in classes because it is difficult for residents to register elsewhere, sometimes a far distance away from their homes. The small town consists of about 9,000 people and is located 180 miles from Denver.
Boebert encourages her customers to open carry their guns to her restaurant. Patrons are greeted at the front door by a sign that reads: “Guns are welcome on premises. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.” She also decorated her walls with copies of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Pledge of Allegiance.
“I didn’t intend to make a statement. I was just going about life as usual and people started making statements for me,” she said.
But, Boebert said she doesn’t think she will ever need to use her gun to protect herself while at work.
“We do not stand around waiting for an attack, by any means,” she added.
The gun-reform group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has created national campaigns since last fall to pressure owners of businesses to change their firearms policies. Members successfully pushed managers at Sonic Drive-In, Brinker International (parent company of Chili’s Grill & Bar), Chipotle, Starbucks, and Jack in the Box to ban weapons on their premises. They also forced Facebook and Instagram to regulate the sales of firearms on the social-media platforms. Most recently, the interim chief executive officer of Target on Wednesday issued a new policy that doesn’t allow weapons at any of the retail chain’s locations.
More than half of the American public – 55% – wants to ban guns in public places, according to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll. Additionally, 72% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans favor a no-gun policy in food establishments and retail stores.