- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Restaurant chains are vowing to let individual franchises deal with the gun debate on their own, shortly after Chipotle announced that firearms are no longer welcome in its stores.

“Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins restaurants are owned and operated by individual franchisees who are required to follow all federal, state and local laws with regard to firearms,” said a Dunkin’ Brands spokeswoman in a statement, CNBC reported.

Rich Jeffers, director of communications at Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse, told CNBC: “Our approach has always been that we abide by all local and state laws.”

And McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb said: “For franchisee-owned restaurants, operational decisions regarding open carry weapon laws are made by the independent franchisee.”

A social media campaign led by an activist group called “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” prompted Chipotle to issue a statement Tuesday that requested customers not bring weapons into their restaurants.

“We are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel,” said Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold.

The policy doesn’t ban guns outright, though the restaurant is within its legal right to do so, an expert told CNBC.

Zaxby’s said it looks to local law and licensees to determine gun policies, but that Chipotle’s announcement has inspired it to look closer at new options.

“Obviously, this is an issue that is becoming increasingly contentious, and as we continue to grow our number of restaurant locations and geographical footprint, it’s something that we must examine further in order to determine how best to move forward,” a Zaxby’s representative told CNBC.