Panera Bread released a statement on Monday requesting that gun owners refrain from bringing firearms into their store locations around the country.
“Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome,” began the statement.
“To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer,” it continued. “Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates.”
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America claims to be responsible for Panera’s change of heart on this issue.
“We are thrilled that after months of discussions between Panera and Moms Demand Action, Panera is taking a proactive position in favor of our families’ safety by putting a new gun policy in place,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, which falls under the Everytown for Gun Safety umbrella.
In an interview with CNBC, Panera CEO Ron Shaich commented on the decision.
“We’re simply respectfully requesting that people leave their guns at home,” said Shaich. “It’s that simple.”
Currently, Panera Bread has at least 1,800 bakery-cafés in 40 states around the country.
Shaich noted that Panera will still continue to follow local and state firearm laws and will not be posting “No firearms allowed” signs. Moreover, it won’t ask employees to enforce the ‘leave your firearms at home’ request.
“We’re certainly not going to put our associates in the position of confronting someone carrying a gun,” he said. “We won’t put our café management in the position of being law enforcement.”
Shaich emphasized that he didn’t want Panera to become a battleground for advocates on either side of the issue.
“I think what we feel is we’re trying to be respectful of people’s rights while at the same time ensuring that Panera isn’t the battleground for political statement,” said Shaich.
Meanwhile, Moms Demand Action is attempting to capitalize off this announcement and use it as momentum to encourage other businesses to embrace an anti-carry stance.
“We urge other national companies follow suit,” said Watts. “Panera’s smart announcement stands in stark contrast to Kroger, which has refused to adopt a similar policy despite numerous incidents of gun violence and people openly carrying rifles in their supermarkets.”
“With a patchwork of lax gun laws and background check loopholes in states across America, businesses like Kroger have a duty to respond to public safety concerns by adopting uniform policies that ensure we can take our children to the grocery store and not have to worry about being confronted by customers carrying semiautomatic rifles who may have never gone through a background check or safety training,” she continued.
Over the past year, Moms Demand Action has convinced Target, Chipotle, Starbucks, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chili’s to make similar requests of their gun-owning patrons. Currently, Moms Demand Action is applying heavy pressure to The Kroger Company, the food chain corporation, via an online and print advertising campaign.
To its credit, Kroger has yet to cave to the pressure. Maybe they’ll be the first ones to stand up to Moms Demand Action’s anti-carry agenda.