Next time you go out for dinner or drinks, don't be surprised if the customer sitting next to you is packing heat.
Nationwide, the Washington Times
reports, more than 57,000 restaurants and bars are allowing open or concealed carry of weapons inside their establishments as business owners, for either political, security, or economic reasons, are turning gun-friendly.
While certain chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks, Chili's Bar and Grill, and Sonic adhere to a no-guns policy, according to MSN,
other major players in the food industry like McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse have allowed gun-toters, depending on state and local regulations.
"While we respect the differing views of all our customers, McDonald's company-owned restaurants follow local, state, and federal laws as it relates to open-carry weapons in our restaurants," the McDonald's website states.
Rich Jeffers of Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and others, told MSN, "Our approach has always been that we abide by all local and state laws."
In virtually all states these days except Maine, North Dakota, and Illinois, which ban firearms from alcohol-serving businesses, carrying firearms, either concealed or openly, is permitted, the Times notes, with various legal caveats. A host of online websites such as www.2amendment.org
have bloomed, telling gun owners which local restaurants and other businesses welcome those carrying weapons.
Brian Crosswhite, owner of the Cajun Experience in Leesburg, Va., told the Times, "This is a Virginia restaurant, and we abide by Virginia state laws, which allow for open carry or concealed carry in a restaurant, so why should I hinder it? It's our constitutional right to bear arms."
TBonz Steakhouse in Augusta, Ga., pulled a quick reverse on its "No Guns" sign, when customers reacted harshly. The restaurant posted on its Facebook page, "It was our intention to get the attention of irresponsible gun owners, but then we realized that irresponsible gun owners do not pay attention to signs," the Times wrote.
Businesses can post a sign disallowing firearms, but that carries a risk. "What if a crook came in and realized he was the only one with a firearm," John Kavanaugh of Kavanaugh's Esquire Club in Madison, Wis., told the Times.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League
calls posted "no guns" restaurants "high-risk businesses" and lists which various establishments do not allow carrying of firearms, for their members to avoid.
"Such 'gun-free zones' are where almost all mass shootings occur in America," the group says on their website. "They actually attract criminals, who prefer unarmed, helpless victims. As such, your life is at greater risk when patronizing such an establishment than it would be at other businesses which have no such policy."
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