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Chili's, Sonic enforce no-guns policy

Two more national restaurant chains are saying no to guns.
Sonic Drive-In
Employee Nieasha Wilson delivers food at a Sonic Corp. drive-in restaurant in Normal, Illinois on March 20, 2012.

Two more national restaurant chains are saying no to guns.

Sonic and Chili's announced Friday afternoon that customers will no longer be able to bring firearms into the restaurants. The two chains reviewed their policies on guns after franchise owners in San Antonio asked a group of gun rights activists with assault rifles to leave the premises.

"We recognize that the open carry of firearms in restaurants creates an uncomfortable atmosphere and is not permitted under many local liquor laws," Ashley Johnson, a Chili's spokeswoman, said in a statement. "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."

A spokesperson for Sonic acknowledged that the "carefully" reconsidered firearms policy was predicated upon recent incidents earlier this month. He also confirmed that franchises will prohibit guns on all properties, but that they will refer to local laws if they see guns inside cars at drive-ins.

"We've considered the views and desires of our customers and employees that staff the drive-ins across the country," Patrick Lenow, Vice President of Sonic's Public Relations wrote.

"Accordingly, we're asking that customers refrain from bringing guns onto our patios or into our indoor dining areas."

The two companies are following similar policies as Chipotle, which announced earlier this month that guns are no longer welcome inside stores, and Starbucks, which asked customers to refrain from bringing firearms inside after a post-Newtown rally advocated for tighter gun laws. 

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that placed pressure on both companies for tougher gun restrictions through a campaign launched last weekend, applauded the corporations' new policies. 

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"Moms thank Sonic and Brinker International, which includes Chili’s Grill & Bar, for taking action to stand up for the safety and security of our families – we are heartened that we can take our children to these family-oriented restaurants and not worry about being confronted by customers with semiautomatic rifles," said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Earlier in the month, members of Second Amendment advocacy group Open Carry Texas brought AK-47s and long rifles to Sonic and Chili's establishments and were subsequently asked to leave the premises by managers. 

After Friday's announcement, the group agreed to comply with the new policies, telling The Huffington Post, "we have always honored private property rights." "Gun free zones have only proven that criminals don't read signs," the president of Open Carry Texas said.