The recent string of open carry demonstrations in Texas restaurants is adding fuel to anti-gun rhetoric.
"You've heard of the Second Amendment, right?"
That's what one Open Carry Texas demonstrator haughtily asked the manager of San Antonio-area Chili's during a recent open-carry demonstration caught on camera in the restaurant's lobby.
In the footage of the encounter, the manager tells the group, which includes young and middle-aged men armed with shotguns and AR15s, that he will seat them, so long as they leave their guns outside. The group declines and leaves the restaurant, but not before making comments about how it's not "the safest Chili's anymore."
After the Chili's protest, the group moved their open carry demonstration to a Sonic down the road. The response there was the same: leave your guns outside and we'll feed you, otherwise, please leave. This encounter was also filmed.
We're making this place safer the group says, we're protecting the children. But the manager doesn't change his mind either, and the group quickly cancels their orders and leaves.
"I feel like I'm a kid again and my mom won't let me do anything," said one of demonstrators.
Open Carry Texas posted footage of both demonstrations to their YouTube page on May 19, but later removed them from public viewing. Mother Jones obtained both videos and reposted them earlier this week.
We've included both videos below:
A Brinker International spokesperson, the company that owns Sonic, shared the following statement about their decision to ask the demonstrators to leave:
"Long guns are not permitted in our Texas restaurants based on [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission] regulation, which prohibits a business that is licensed to sell or serve alcoholic beverages from allowing shotguns or rifles into the building."
Chili's and Sonic aren't the only restaurants that have told Open Carry Texas and other Second Amendment rights demonstrators to leave their guns at home. In recent weeks, Wendy's, Applebee's, Jack in the Box and Chipotle have moved to ban guns from their stores. It would seem certain Second Amendment rights advocates have no one to blame but themselves.
Earlier this month members of Open Carry Texas staged a demonstration inside of a Dallas Chipotle, which backfired so much that it prompted a Mothers Against Guns organization to successfully sway Chipotle into banning firearms from their stores.
Roughly a month ago, a Fort Worth-area chapter of Open Carry Texas staged a demonstration in a Jack in the Box. According to police, the restaurant staff was so frightened by the armed protestors that most of them hid in the kitchen freezer until cops arrived on the scene.
Even the leadership of Texas Second Amendment groups think their members and chapters are getting out of hand. In a joint statement by Open Carry Texas, Texas Carry, Come and Take It, and Gun Rights Across America, the leadership asked their members to reevaluate how they demonstrate their Second Amendment rights.
Whereas, our mission is to get open carry of handguns passed in Texas, we must once again adjust in a way that shines a positive light on our efforts, our members, and our respective organizations. We have decided the prudent path, to further our goals, is to immediately cease taking long guns into corporate businesses unless invited.
Change minds through education not chest-pounding
Like the Manager at the San Antonio Chili's said, yes, we've heard of the Second Amendment, and we know what rights it affords. We're all for protecting and preserving those rights, but bringing your firearms into a restaurant and making people feel uncomfortable and even afraid is definitely not a step in the right direction.
These self-proclaimed protectors of the peace make open-carry licensed gun owners - especially owners of AR-15s, a gun that's garnered enough of an unwarranted negative reputation - look bad.
As sportsmen, it's in our best interests to try and change anti-gun rhetoric and legislation that infringes upon our rights and ability to enjoy the sports we love by educating people, rather than flaunting our guns in public.
We can start with the AR15, the rifle that most of these gun advocates bring to their open carry demonstrations. Most people call it an assault rifle even though the AR stands for Armalite, the company that designed it, and aside from its military-style features, an AR is really no more powerful than most hunting rifles on the market. A great source of information for those who may be a little confused about the subject is the website The Truth About Assault Weapons.
Information like that, as well as educated open dialogue, will change attitudes, not needlessly bringing guns into a crowded restaurant.
What are your thoughts on open carry demonstrations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.