Today, in seemingly coordinated statements, Chili's and Sonic Drive-In said they will no longer allow guns at their facilities.
Sonic Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Lenow said of the ban:
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.
And a representative of Chili's parent company, Brinker International, issued a comparable statement on open carry, saying:
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.
Earlier this week, video emerged showing local Chili's and Sonic locations stopping gun-toting would-be patrons from entering the facilities, so the corporate statements shouldn't be that surprising. According to the Huffington Post, it's likely the two companies acted together:
Lenow acknowledged that, before the company set the policy, he "spoke to a number of my peers at non-competing restaurant concepts" this week.
The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America claimed the move as a victory, writing in a Facebook post that "Sonic Drive-In and Brinker International, including Chili's Grill & Bar, today released statements asking customers not to bring guns to their restaurants, in response to a petition launched by Moms last weekend." Good job, moms.