In a move unlike any other management persuaded by national campaigns to alter their gun policies, the CEO of Panera Bread is asking customers to leave their guns at home. Throughout the past year, members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have influenced various corporations to ban armed individuals from entering stores. The companies typically respond promptly to the petitions by asking clients to refrain from possessing firearms while dining or shopping at the various locations across the country. A spokesperson for the pro-reform gun group said the moms and Panera management had discussed the possibility of a firearms prohibition in the months prior to the CEO's ultimate choice on Monday. But CEO Ronald Shaich proactively adopted new regulations, unprompted by a national campaign against his stores.
In the spring, some national restaurant chains, including Chipotle, Chili's, and Sonic, issued statements on a pressing national issue: going forward, their customers should not bring loaded firearms into their establishments.
As Michele Richinick reports, the list of chains following suit keeps growing.
In a statement to msnbc, Panera Bread said, "Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer. Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates."
The new policy applies to all North American locations and takes effect immediately.
The Panera Bread announcement also comes just a month after Target unveiled a policy asking that its "guests not bring firearms to Target -- even in communities where it is permitted by law." Similar no-firearms policies have been announced this year by Costco, Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, Whole Foods Market, and IKEA.
What I continue to find amazing is that these policies have become quite necessary.
As we've discussed before, the issue came to the fore recently when “open-carry” enthusiasts made a spectacle of bringing assault rifles into various public establishments. The point wasn't to rob them or scare ransom consumers, but rather, these folks pulled these stunts in some states there are laws that allow such activities.
The point, in other words, is for these gun activists to take advantage of open-carry laws simply because they can.
The National Rifle Association described such antics as “weird” and needlessly “scary” to the public at large. The far-right group apologized soon after.
The irony is, the “open-carry” enthusiasts have created conditions in which a growing number of chains and retailers have felt the need to move sharply in the opposite direction.