Guns, Guns, Guns

The Chipotle Anti-Gun ‘Scandal’ Has the Right Up in Arms

They’re all free-market this and that—until a corporation makes a decision they don’t like, as Chipotle just did in with regard to guns.

Bill Pugliano/Getty

It’s getting clearer and clearer lately that conservatives actually hate capitalism. Sure, sure, conservatives seem all in favor of completely unfettered free markets—until private businesses decide to do things they don’t like.

Private companies want to pay their workers pennies an hour? More power to ’em. In fact, Republican Rep. Joe Barton would unshackle corporations altogether and repeal the minimum wage, which he believes has “outlived its usefulness.” But when privately owned television networks make the business decision to suspend stars and cancel shows due to racist or homophobic remarks? Conservatives are outraged!

And now conservatives are up in arms that the restaurant chain Chipotle has asked that customers not bring weapons into their stores, following an incident in members of the gun-rights organization Open Carry Texas brought assault-style rifles into a Chipotle in Dallas. The activist group insisted they weren’t demonstrating, but simply wielding their weapons during a meal following an event. Nonetheless, Chipotle issued a statement asking patrons who aren’t law enforcement officers to leave their heat at home. “The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Conservatives are outraged!

Here’s National Review contributor Greg Pollowitz endorsing a boycott:

One upping that, former Tea Party congressman Joe Walsh ostensibly calls on gun-lovers to bring their guns anyway:

Dana Loesch implies that Chipotle is impinging on her Second Amendment rights:

And then there’s this bizarre one:

What the hell does that even mean?!

But I digress… I think open carry laws are stupid. Actually, I think conceal carry laws are stupid too—for one thing, there’s no evidence that armed citizens wandering the streets helps prevent crime. In fact, in nearly all instances when armed citizens have tried to intervene in mass shootings, they have failed—and sometimes been shot themselves. It’s no wonder that cops and other law enforcement officials, those trained to protect our lives and our communities, are overwhelmingly opposed to conceal carry laws.

Letting people brandish their weapons in public spaces is no better. It’s creepy and intimidating. And polls show that open carry laws make Americans feel not more safe, but less. Half of Americans say they feel less safe knowing that people who aren’t law enforcement officers can carry guns in public; only 38 percent feel more safe. Women feel even more strongly— 63 percent say open carry laws make them feel less safe. And incidentally, in the same poll more than half of respondents support businesses establishing “no gun” policies.

Certainly, when gun-rights activists staged a protest by bringing their weapons to a Newtown, CT, Starbucks just after the deadly mass school shooting in that community, people buying their lattes probably felt less safe and traumatized. Leading Starbucks to ask customers to not bring guns into the coffee shops nationwide. Which conservatives protested.

I completely support the right of law-abiding citizens to own and use guns for sport and self-protection. And, like conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I agree that reasonable requirements can be placed on those rights under our Constitution. But the idea behind conceal and open carry laws derives from both an ideological desire to resist any gun control as well as to present the world in general as some kind of dangerous place in which constant armed self-protection is necessary, thus further rationalizing gun rights (and gun sales). Never mind the reality that crime, nationwide, is steadily declining. Fear sells guns.

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And it’s this—bigger gun sales—that may ultimately be the real free-market interest driving conservatives here. Certainly, it’s the interests of gun manufacturers and dealers that drive the National Rifle Association—not the interests of NRA members, who widely and strongly support sensible gun control laws.

I guess it’s all good when a private individual on a ranch in Nevada resists government laws that conservatives are against, but those Occupy protesters were law-breaking scum, right? When private companies support gay rights or reproductive freedom or Obamacare, they’re somehow anti-democratic and undermining the will of the American people, but private companies that stand up for gun rights are All-American? Are conservatives only for big business when big business sides with supposedly conservative values? Is their whole free-market capitalism as neo-religion devotion simply a façade for cloaking their ideological bias in economic rationalism? And if conservatives are against the private company in the case of Chipotle, are they suddenly for government? Which way is up?

I’m so confused I’m feeling dizzy. I need a burrito.