A Texas gun rights group has notified members that they are to "immediately cease" taking shotguns and rifles into private businesses unless invited to do so, backing down from a controversial strategy that has led several large restaurant chains to ask patrons to leave their guns at home.
The organization, Open Carry Texas, is one of many groups nationwide that advocate for the right of gun owners to wear and carry firearms openly in public. Photos from a rally by supporters of the group at a Dallas-area Chipotle restaurant went viral this week, prompting the burrito chain to declare that firearms are unwelcome in its restaurants.
On Friday, The Huffington Post reported that Chili's was also reconsidering its policy after a similar rally at one of its San Antonio restaurants. Video apparently taken by a participant in the rally shows a confrontation with a woman, apparently a patron, who scolds the men for bringing large guns into a restaurant where children are eating.
In the statement, also posted on its Facebook page, Open Carry Texas acknowledged that its tactics, which are intended to encourage broader acceptance of firearms in public, were having the opposite effect. Carrying rifles and shotguns into businesses is the approach that has "gotten the most resistance and suffered the largest setbacks," the group said.
"We must once again adjust in a way that shines a positive light on our efforts, our members, and our respective organizations," the group said in the statement. "We have decided the prudent path, to further our goals, is to immediately cease taking long guns into corporate businesses unless invited."
Laws about openly carrying firearms vary by state. Texas allows for the concealed but not the open carrying of handguns, while it is legal to carry a rifle openly. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, however, prohibits businesses with liquor licenses from allowing rifles and shotguns on their premises.
The Texas group said it would refocus its efforts on what it identified as its primary goal: to convince legislators to legalize the open carry of handguns in the state. "The conversation has shifted from open carry of handguns to rifles in businesses, negating our efforts and distracting us from our mission," the letter said.
A spokesman for the group did not immediately return a request for comment.