Chipotle Mexican Grill is stepping into a contentious national debate on firearms by asking customers to leave their guns at home.
The Denver chain, best known for made-to-order burritos and tacos, said Monday that a recent demonstration by gun advocates in one of its restaurants spurred the decision to request that diners refrain from packing heat.
"Recently participants from an 'open carry' demonstration in Texas brought guns (including military-style assault rifles) into one of our restaurants, causing many of our customers anxiety and discomfort," Chipotle said in a statement Monday.
"Because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."
The chain noted that it has historically complied with local laws regarding firearms. But it said the recent display of fire power has created an environment that is "potentially intimidating or uncomfortable" for many customers.
That Texas demonstration has also drawn the ire of gun control advocates. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has already started a petition asking Chipotle to ban guns in its eateries.
Chipotle is not the first company to get entangled in the national gun debate.
Last year, Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz asked its customers to stop bringing firearms to its stores.
In a post on Starbucks' blog, Schultz said stores had been "thrust unwillingly" into the raging public discourse on gun rights and public safety.
Pro-gun activists staged media events at Starbucks stores that gave off the impression that the company was a supporter of "open carry" rules, he wrote.
"To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores," Schultz said.
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