Does an AK-47 belong in a Chipotle?
Last May, the Dallas County chapter of guns-right activist group Open Carry Texas brought loaded rifles and shotguns, including military-style assault rifles like AK-47s and AR-15s, to Chipotle franchises.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots effort started after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, launched a social media campaign that convinced Chipotle to issue a statement discouraging firearms in their establishment.
If there’s one thing for certain about gun control in America, it’s that those who are pro-firearms and those who are anti-firearms are equally passionate about the issue. But where do companies come into the picture?
Chipotle, along with chains like Target, Panera, Starbucks and Wendy’s, have issued statements discouraging guns in their establishments, but have not firmly established firearm policies and continue to serve gun-toting customers, often citing adherence to local and state laws, as an explanatory post on Target’s blog stated this July.
To be clear, banning non-law enforcement guns in stores or chains is within the rights of any business, as these stores are private property.
Here are six companies who have created and enforced gun ban policies:
The world’s largest furniture retailer received flack this summer when a guard at the College Park, Maryland IKEA told a uniformed police officer he would need to leave his firearm in the car due to the store’s gun policy. The Swedish Chain quickly followed up with this statement:
“We regret that there was a misunderstanding of our weapon policy in our College Park Store. Our weapon policy does not apply to law enforcement officers. We are taking steps to ensure that this is clear for all our co-workers.”
Outside of law enforcement officers, IKEA has a firm no-firearms policy with signs posted on the front door that read “Weapons-Free Environment.”
2. Peet’s Coffee and Tea
In 2010, Peet’s implemented a no guns policy with signs in its doorways after Open Carry gun advocates in the Bay Area gathered at a Peet’s establishment, causing some patrons to call 911. In an email to The Scavenger, a company spokesperson had this to say after the events:
“While Peet’s Coffee & Tea respects and values all individuals’ rights under local, state and federal laws, our policy is not to allow customers carrying firearms in our stores or on our outdoor seating premises unless they are uniformed or identified law enforcement officers. Like most other private businesses, particularly retail establishments, we believe this policy is in the best interests of all of our customers, regardless of their personal beliefs.”
Starbucks and Peet’s both began their companies on the West Coast, but Peet’s has taken a much firmer stance on gun policy than the Seattle coffee king has. Last year, Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz issued a statement with a “respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.”
3. Whole Foods
Whole Foods Market has had a “No Firearms” policy since as far back as 2001. No one, including team members, customers and vendors, may bring firearms, concealed weapons, explosives or the like to any Whole Foods Market store location.
As with all other companies on this list, commissioned law enforcement offices and other authorized security personnel are permitted to have firearms.
Rachel Gruver, Whole Foods’ Global Customer Information Specialist for Austin, explained in an August 2014 email that the company does not “take a political position on the issue, nor is our policy intended to infer a lack of support for the 2nd Amendment.
Whole Foods Market’s policy is based on state law, which allows businesses to establish and enforce a “No Firearms” policy in our stores as part of state criminal trespass laws.”
4. AMC Theatres
With more than 350 theatres in 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, AMC enforces a gun ban and has signage posted inside their theaters nationwide outlining their firearm policy.
In reply to one guns-right activist’s email posted on Louisiana-based discussion board Bayou Shooter, AMC Theatres responded with this statement:
“For the safety and security of our guests and associates, and as a family business, AMC feels the best way to protect our guests and associates is to have a uniform, standardized policy prohibiting weapons on our premises, and to post such policy.”
5. Toys “R” Us
In response to a 2011 email from a gun activist to the well-known toy company, Toys “R” Us responded with an outline of their gun policy:
“At Toys “R” Us, Inc., the safety and security of our customers and our employees is, and always has been, our highest priority. As a retailer that welcomes millions of kids and families into our stores across the country each year, we take our responsibility to create only the safest shopping environment very seriously. While we respect citizens’ rights to carry firearms in public areas according to certain state laws, our company policy prohibits customers from doing so in any of our stores out of an abundance of caution for the safety and protection of the children and families shopping with us.”
Beyond their gun policy, Toys “R” Us was also the first retailer in the U.S. to adopt a policy to not sell any toy guns that could be mistaken for a real gun. The policy has been in place since 1994.
6. Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings launched their gun ban policy in 2009 and continues to issue the following statement when asked about it:
“Buffalo Wild Wings respects the right of individuals to carry firearms. However, because we are focused on the comfort, safety and enjoyment of all of our guests, we have elected to exercise our right to restrict the carrying of firearms within our restaurants. We regret any inconvenience this may cause but believe that this policy is in the best interest of all our guests and our Team Members.”
While many companies resist offending or upsetting gun-rights activists, these six companies created no-gun policies that universally cite customer protection as the prominent reason for their establishment.
Amanda Oliver is a freelance writer, librarian, and frequent traveler. Currently all of her belongings fit into one suitcase. Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter: @aelaineo.