When open-carry gun enthusiasts in Texas decided to descend on Chipotle and Wendy's franchises carrying "military-style assault rifles" in a show of force, the demonstration backfired on them — Chipotle ended up banning guns from its establishments. That's because, as Vox's Matt Yglesias wrote, "no amount of frontier tradition changes the fact that it's alarming when heavily armed men walk into your suburban chain restaurant." It's so alarming, in fact, that even the NRA — which isn't known for scolding gun owners over their behavior — wrote a blog post last week that gives the Texas protesters a verbal pistol-whipping.
The blog post, posted on the website of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action — its lobbying arm — lumps the Texas open-carry demonstration in with proposed "smart guns" legislation. Both of them, the post says, make it harder to be a responsible gun owner. But while the case against "smart guns" takes up most of the post, the NRA doesn't mince words in dressing down the Texans for showing up to Chipotle armed to the teeth. In fact, the NRA calls that (emphasis in the original) "downright weird."
The NRA thinks the Texas gun owners' true faux pas was the type of guns that were used, not the demonstration itself. Apparently, it's not "bad manners" to brandish a pistol in a Chipotle, but brandishing a "tactical long gun" crosses the line.
Here's the part of the NRA post that deals with the gun protests:
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here). In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community.
More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way.
As harsh as the NRA's tone is in this post, they're unlikely to end up picking a fight with the local group that sponsored the protest. The head of that group told Vox wo weeks ago that they're "going to ask their members to keep their long arms — which are rifles and shotguns — out of public establishments and private businesses. Because it's not helping us right now."