OPINION

Opinion: Live Free And Die Hard, Just Don't Do It In Chipotle

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It was date night, and I was thinking I might take my wife out to the local Chipotle for a black bean burrito, and maybe some nachos. And so, while she was getting ready, I casually rummaged through the hamper, pulled out my least filthy, sleeveless red-flannel shirt, grabbed my white hockey mask from the bakers rack in the dining room where I usually keep it (just in case somebody drops by unexpectedly) and dashed down to the garage to grab my trusty chain saw.

I let out a little moan as I tenderly stroked the orange handle and let my fingers play along the fierce teeth on the chain. My manhood was complete.

Rallying in defense of a right that nobody is trying to take away is less a “demonstration” than it is “a pathetically desperate plea for attention,” but it does make you hungry.

- Seamus McGraw

These days, I try never to go anywhere without my chain saw. Church? Yup. The local tavern? Wouldn’t dream of turning up there unless I was in full Texas Chainsaw Massacre regalia. And certainly, I’d never even consider dining at a Chipotle unless I was packing a 16-inch Husqvarna and a full tank of gas and two-stroke oil.

After all, these are perilous times we live in and the scariest places of all apparently seem to be fast food chain restaurants, locales that have become so terrifying in fact that there’s a group of Texans who call themselves Open Carry Texas who seem to be afraid to even venture into the parking lot unless they’re carrying enough firepower to bring down a small country.

So why shouldn’t I exercise my God-given right to carry a power tool of mass destruction into a public eatery? After all, it’s legal. And even though nobody was trying to restrict my right to own all the potentially deadly power tools I wanted, who knows? Maybe someday somebody would, and the best defense against that is a good offense. I figured it was my responsibility as an American to be as offensive as possible.

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My wife, of course, saw things differently. The way she saw it, I was being childish, self-indulgent and cowardly, and that my right to play dress up and carry my chain saw in public ended right where somebody else’s right to enjoy their bean dip without the implied threat of ghoulish dismemberment began. She put her foot down.

Women. They’re always running date night.

Needless to say, I was crushed and so I sought to commiserate with the one guy in the country who had suffered even more than I had from the politically correct tyranny of women. CJ Grisham, the head of Open Carry Texas, was still smarting from what he viewed as a five day long, nationwide harangue by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, when he picked up the phone.

Grisham and his group, which according to published reports has from time to time issued statements that border on the extreme and are occasionally misogynistic, were catapulted into the news last Saturday when members of Moms Demand Action photographed a couple of them guarding the condiments bar at a Dallas County Chipotle with a (reportedly loaded) AR-15 and AK-47 semi automatic rifles. Moms Demand Action posted the photos on the web, and they went viral, and before Grisham and his group could lock and load, Chipotle turned on them. In a statement issued Monday, the restaurant chain announced that it was “respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”

It was the latest set back for guys who like to flash their guns at strangers, and came on the heels of similar incidents at Starbucks and Jack In The Box. But this one was particularly stinging because, as Grisham told me, it was all a big misunderstanding. The group wasn’t trying to invade Chipotle, he told me. “All we were doing was going to eat.”

Apparently, the group had worked up quite an appetite parading around the nearby streets with their weapons — a demonstration, he told me, in favor of the state’s open carry law, which permits residents to walk around with long guns pretty much at will.

Now an unpatriotic cynic like my wife might suggest that rallying in defense of a right that nobody is trying to take away is less a “demonstration” than it is “a pathetically desperate plea for attention," but it does make you hungry.

And so, Grisham told me, the group sent an unarmed scout into the Chipotle to advise them they’d like to come in and eat, and that they’d be armed to the teeth. “We always make sure they’re OK with it, and 95 percent of the time they are,” he said. “If they’re not, we go someplace else.”

This time, however, regardless of what the management may have thought, at least some of the customers objected, though Grisham is convinced that the opposition was exclusively from members of Moms Demand Action, few if any of whom “are actually from Texas,” he added.

To be honest, the furor caught Grisham and his group off guard. And as much as it apparently pains him to do so, he says he and his group will abide by Chipotle request to stay away, at least while packing heat. “We’ve gotten calls from a lot of other restaurants,” he says. “We’ll go there.”

And in a way, he says, he’s even prepared to declare a measure of victory out of the showdown at Chipotle. “It’s not a ban,” he says of the chain’s “request” that gun-toting diners eat elsewhere. “We’re happy about that.”

I’ve got to admit, I found that inspirational. I was moved by the magnanimity that Open Carry Texas showed in deciding that it was in the best interest of everybody to agree to leave the salad bar at Chipotle unguarded, especially since it was so selfless. (I mean, looking at the photos that Moms Demand Action posted on the web, it’s not like these guys really have to worry much about date night, if you catch my drift.)

And so, with Grisham and his group as my model, I reluctantly agreed to leave my hockey mask and chain saw at home this date night. But in the interest of comity and compromise, my wife has agreed that next date night we can go to Red Lobster. And she’ll let me dress up like a pirate.

Seamus McGraw is a freelance journalist who has contributed to dozens of publications, including The New York Times,  Playboy, The Forward, and Readers' Digest. He is the author of  "The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone."  He can be reached on Twitter @seamusmcgraw, or on Facebook at The End of Country.

 

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