Late last week, two large national chains -- Chili's and Sonic -- issued coordinated press statements
, letting the public know that customers should no longer bring loaded firearms into their restaurants. Chipotle made a similar move earlier in May.
The announcements became necessary because a variety of gun enthusiasts, most notably members of a group called Open Carry Texas, decided last month to bring assault rifles into a Chili's location in San Antonio -- at least in part because state law allows them to do so. (They were asked to leave because they made other patrons uncomfortable.)
Mark Follman reports today
that even the National Rifle Association isn't impressed with the idea of carrying AR-15s into local eating establishments.
Evidently the National Rifle Association has come to realize that none of this is good for business. In an extraordinary move on Friday, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action -- the organization's powerful lobbying arm in Washington -- issued a lengthy statement seeking to distinguish between "responsible behavior" and "legal mandates." It told the Texas gun activists in no uncertain terms to stand down. "As gun owners, whether or not our decisions are dictated by the law, we are still accountable for them," the statement began. "If we exercise poor judgment, our decisions will have consequences…such as turning an undecided voter into an antigun voter because of causing that person fear or offense." The NRA praised the "robust gun culture" of Texas -- which recently has loosened laws as aggressively as any state -- but then laid into those Texans "who have crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness."
The NRA made the case that "public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause" can be "downright scary" to members of the public. The far-right group added that the recent incident at Chili's was "downright weird" -- and the NRA wasn't referring to the manager's request that the gun-toting patrons leave the premises.
So, how did the gun enthusiasts in Texas respond?
As Eric Lach reported
, about as well as you'd expect.
In response to the NRA's statement on Friday criticizing Texas activists' recent tactics, members of the pro-gun group Open Carry Texas have been cutting up their NRA membership cards, and the group has issued a statement demanding a retraction of the NRA's "disgusting and disrespectful comments." Or else. "The more the NRA continues to divide its members by attacking some aspects of gun rights instead of supporting all gun rights, the more support it will lose," Open Carry Texas said in a statement published Monday on its Facebook page.
Yes, because if there's one aspect of the gun debate that's obvious, it's that the NRA is ... too moderate?
: A new poll
found that more than half of the country (55%) believes banning loaded guns in restaurants and retail stores is a good idea. About a third (32%) said the opposite.