Guns, moms & burritos: Chipotle sparks social media uproar

Turns out guns and fast food are an explosive mix.

Chipotle Mexican Grill may have thought it was protecting potentially frightened customers when it urged people to leave their guns at home. But not so fast.

It’s clear to me that Chipotle should have known better. It was playing with fire by infringing on the Second Amendment and bowing to public pressure from a social media campaign. The ban was bound to give pro-gun supporters indigestion. Even though the company claimed the move was voluntary, that's not how it played among gun enthusiasts who believe their rights are under siege. This smells like a step toward a total ban and activists want to use their firepower to make sure it goes no further.


The company made the move after gun rights activists showed up at one of its Dallas-area restaurants with semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. And according to the AP, were the target of a “petition by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has called on other companies to ban firearms in their stores as well.” The group also mounted a Twitter and Facebook campaign run by anti-gun group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense using the hashtag #burritosnotbullets.

It worked. Chipotle caved.

In a statement Monday the Denver-based company said that "the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers."

The company reserved itself just 48-hours after the petition and social
media campaign began.

But the move by Chipotle gave plenty of ammunition to gun-rights advocates who mounted their own a social media campaign against the chain.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp - an outspoken Tea Party lawmaker from Kansas, along with other gun-rights activists, fired back on Twitter. “Chipotle: now that you’ve shown your disdain for the 2nd Amendment…when R U taking away the First?” he wrote. @ShotgunKenny tweeted to ‘Moms Demand Action’ saying: "I expect businesses I support to have a Texas backbone and not bow to political correctness."

Liberals, including comedian Jon Stewart, predictably cheered the restaurant chain’s announcement that customers should leave their guns at home. In a monologue,on his Comedy Central TV show, he said, “Here's the problem with open carrying of assault rifles: no one else in that Chipotle knows you're a good guy, they just know you have a gun. And here's the thing – even if you put your gun up and go 'Don't worry everybody we're good guys' ... that's the type of thing a clever bad guy might say."

In fact, there are many companies across the country that fold when
challenged and don’t have the spine to stand up to even the smallest public protest. The Denver-based group is not the first company to change internal policy based on demands from outspoken customers.

Nintendo of America apologized for not including same-sex Mii avatars in its video games after a social media campaign using #miiquality received
worldwide attention.

Subway promised to stop using the chemical azodicarbonamide in its bread after a blogger’s post went viral claiming the chemical was also found in yoga mats and shoe rubber.

Social media is healthy feedback loop. But it’s become a trip wire that
causes corporations to quake in their boots. No hashtag campaign is too small to force board room gatherings.

Chipotle’s reaction online since its decision? Radio silence. Not a single tweet or Facebook mention. Apparently the company has decided to stay out of the crossfire in the very medium that forced its hand.