Statement On Panera Bread Gun Ban from Former Deputy Sheriff Vincent L. DeNiro

By Vincent L. DeNiro Editor-In Chief, Prepper & Shooter Magazine and Former Ohio Deputy Sheriff

Panera Bread Gun Ban
Statement On Panera Gun ‘Ban' from Former Deputy Sheriff Vincent L. DeNiro
Prepper & Shooter Magazine
Prepper & Shooter Magazine

East Liverpool, OH – -( I just read a story posted on about Panera Bread and their decision to tell their patrons that they don’t want them carrying firearms for their protection or for the protection of their families while patronizing their restaurants.

I always enjoyed eating at Panera Bread and searched for their restaurants when traveling. Their bread and fresh sandwiches were (and I mean “were”) awesome.

My favorite breakfast was (and I mean “was”) the Mediterranean Egg White with sundried tomatoes, pesto, Asiago cheese, on Ciabatta bread and their great coffee. We even had many staff meetings for Prepper & Shooter Magazine there, but will not any more since Panera Bread does not want law-abiding gun owners to have the ability to protect themselves against a criminal life-threatening situation.

I know what a mass shooting looks like when the bad guys show up with guns in a business that does not/cannot allow its patrons to have firearms for self-defense – and I know what it looks like up close.

Around 20 years ago, while on patrol as a deputy sheriff, my partner and I responded to one of the deadliest shootings in Ohio history, which is remembered in police circles as the “Newport Inn Massacre.”

We responded by driving over 100 MPH when the call came over the radio. The call came in to back up the city police in Youngstown and we were in Canfield, Ohio, very close to the current location of the Panera Bread restaurant I “used” to frequent, but many miles from the Newport Inn Bar on the city’s south side.

A bunch of gang bangers decided that night to take a van and rob the bar, which was not far from them. They entered the bar with masks on and first demanded money from one of the patrons. When he stated that he did not have any money, they shot and killed him. Then, that same gunman and another gunman shot and killed an elderly man. Then they shot a woman. Another man was also shot and killed while sitting at the bar. From what I remember, he was a Desert Storm Army vet. Then, one of them approached the bar owner and shot him four times in the stomach – despite his wounds, he remained on his feet. The gunman screamed for the owner to turn over the bar money, and the owner gave it to him. The gunman screamed again at the bar owner that he did not turn over all of the money, and the owner remembered the pool league money, so he then turned that over. The gunman screamed yet again that there must be more money. The bar owner urged the gunman to be “cool” and the gunman responded by leveling a gun to his head. Although seriously wounded and in shock, the owner tried to grab for a gun, but was unable to fight back due to his wounds and collapsed. The gunman looked down at him and said something to the effect of, “You ain’t dead yet?!” Then he shot the owner again, this time in both legs.

(So much for modern-day, active-shooter company policies that state that employees are to do whatever the robbers or gunmen say – I wonder what the Panera Bread policy is.)

When we arrived, the “animals” had already fled and I immediately went through the front door to assist in clearing the location. The floor was covered in so much blood that I slipped, and if it weren’t for a bar stool, and for a juke box that the killers shoved against the front door in order to bar it, I would have fallen. It was the elderly man’s blood that I slipped on by the front door. The call then came out over the radio that the Youngstown city police were chasing the van, so my partner and I jumped in the car and headed in the direction given over the radio. When we arrived, the city police were pulling the murderers from the van. Later, one of them with handcuffs on and sitting in the back of a patrol car, began banging his head against the window and screaming at me to loosen the handcuffs – I won’t repeat what I said to him. It was a miracle that the bar owner survived, as did the woman but the other three male patrons were dead.

It was a few years before the Newport Inn Massacre in 1993, that I, along with Larry Pratt from Gun Owners of America, Second Amendment author David Kopel, Dr. Suzanne Gratia-Hupp (a survivor of the Luby’s Cafeteria massacre where patrons were not permitted to be armed) and others testified at the Ohio State House about the importance of having concealed carry in Ohio. Unfortunately, it would not be until 2004, that Ohio would get its concealed carry permit system.

Since Panera Bread has decided to jump on the anti-gun bandwagon, let’s look at one of the Panera Bread Company statements:

Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer. 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.

The absolutely ball-less, Peacenik/Hippy-type idiocy of the executive management of Panera Bread is astounding BUT at least they will allow off-duty police to protect THEIR families. To think that a criminal who wants to commit robbery or mass murder will obey a “no-gun” rule borders on mental illness. The Newport Inn had the all of the liquor law signs posted that carrying a firearm in the establishment was illegal; I guess the unfortunate gang banger youths did not have time to read it. Maybe these anti-firearm idiots would argue the gang banger youths did not have the proper role models. Oh, did I forget to mention that at least two of the five Newport Inn murderers had Youngstown city cops as fathers?! In the mid-1990s, it was common that some gang bangers had cops for dads in Youngstown. I don’t know if that is going on today.

I will ask my colleagues of over 30 years in the firearms industry as well as all gun owners out there to boycott Panera Bread restaurants. Sometimes, not being able to carry is unavoidable, like at a school function, government building/office, overseas, or away at a vacation spot – Panera Bread and many of these anti-gun stores and restaurants are not among those exceptions.

Remember the victims of the Newport Inn Massacre, one of whom was an Army vet, and think of them the next time you get a craving for Panera Bread or any other restaurant or store that does not want you to protect yourself, your family or others.

All are permitted to post this article as long as it is posted in its entirety without modification.

Prepper & Shooter Magazine is a quarterly publication that covers all the topics vital to those interested in preparing for a variety of scenarios in which they would need to be self-reliant – such as natural or man-made disasters – in an assortment of product reviews, expert columnist pieces, interviews, instructional pieces and feature stories. The magazine, which is published by The Third Page Publishing Inc., is priced at $7.95 per issue and is available on newsstands and from the publisher. For additional information, visit the publication’s website at

  • 15 thoughts on “Statement On Panera Bread Gun Ban from Former Deputy Sheriff Vincent L. DeNiro

    1. If we look at Panera’s statement as a polite request now and let them off the hook it will soon become a policy and other restaurants will be encouraged and join with them. My grandmother used to say “give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile” Recent proof of this is .the gains in the gay rights movement. I’m only using gay rights as an example of how quickly policies, laws, traditions etc. can be changed. Protect our 2nd amendment rights to the extreme. Anti gun groups never ever give an inch.

    2. Common sense never rules among some of the gun group, The right to carry is not the right to flaunt or pose with you favorite weapon. I have concealed carried since the 60’s and never had to use or pull my weapon on anyone and I still feel safe and comfortable every where I go an have never been attacked either an do not feel that my efforts have been wasted. Alittle common sense goes a long way to solving problems.

    3. Should be noted that they’re NOT banning guns from their establishments anymore than Starbucks or Target have, in spite of the way the news has covered it – what all these guys did was ASK that licensed gun owners not OPEN carry in their stores – but they are NOT posting gun free zone signs – if you conceal, it’s a non-issue – if you still want to open carry, they won’t stop you but they’re asking that you don’t do so you won’t scare their Muggle customers

    4. There is a problem (actually 2 problems; 1 political, and 1 practical) with simply continuing to patronize them while carrying concealed, and it is important that people like us stand up and point this out to their corporate managers.

      To understand the corporate management’s decision to make this statement, which THEY undoubtedly think is innocuous and essentially meaningless, because their lawyers have told them so, you have to think like a corporate manager. The MDA approached them and basically threatened a well funded anti-Panera PR campaign (even if only tacitly – but the threat would be implicit, especially after their recent billboard attacks on Kroger’s). The corporate management saw the problem as one of avoiding bad press from MDA, while still not actually alienating their gun-toting patrons. Their legal staff have told them this kind of statement won’t impact their business much, because gun owners will know they are still legally able to come in anyhow, as long as no actual signs get posted. So the management agreed to make a seemingly conciliatory statement in public, but would not change their actual policies, and they could “hide behind” the state laws on CCW if pressed further by MDA. From the corporation’s perspective, that sounds like a “win-win” scenario; it gets the MDA off their case, and doesn’t really alienate (they thought) any of their clientele. They certainly did not foresee the unexpected backlash and loss of support in the public sphere, or they would probably not have issued the statement in the first place. But that would mean they’d have to have decided to go with the threatened bad PR campaign from MDA, which they’d only do if they saw it as the lesser of 2 evils (ie, less likely to hurt their business). They are missing three important points however, and it is critical for us to raise these issues to the level of corporate awareness, so that they will also be considered by other corporations that may be similarly approached by MDA (or some other, similar, group) in the future. Don’t think for a moment that corporate executives from other companies aren’t watching how this plays out, either. These guys talk to each other and they routinely try to learn from each other’s experiences, both good and bad.

      Here is what the corporate execs are missing:

      1) The majority of the general public does not oppose the responsible carrying of guns, either openly or concealed, in public. So they are likely to find this sort of “ban” (even if they know it is only a PR exercise with no legal force) to be an unwarranted and unjust infringement on civil rights, favoring a small segment of the public at the expense of others, rather than a safety matter.

      2) There is a wealth of data now being more widely disseminated in the public sphere, that demonstrates that public shootings, particularly mass shootings, occur exclusively in places that are believed to ban guns. Thus, the public is becoming increasingly aware that, if anything, places with these policies are actually likely to become MORE dangerous, rather than less so.

      3) Related to the previous issue, the upper corporate management is still unaware that even the making of a fairly innocuous, essentially “non-ban” type statement such as this one by Panera, will be seen by potential armed robbers as evidence that those companies are safer to rob than other places that have not publicly made such policy statements. Nefarious individuals are likely to believe, probably correctly, that most of the concealed carry crowd will either stop eating at Panera, or will not be carrying there, if they do still come in. Thus, the practical danger of being involved in a shootout at Panera will now be greater than it was before their statement. Frankly, while I carry concealed 24/7, I also avoid going to “biker bars” or other places that increase the probability that I’ll be involved in a shooting. Panera needs to know that their statement, however innocuous they thought it would be, has just added them to that list.

      The number of gun-packing folks who patronize Panera (and virtually any other store, except a gun shop) is such a small percentage of their business that we cannot realistically hope to make any significant difference by an open boycott, or threat thereof. HOWEVER, the perception that offending this small percentage may result in a much larger segment of the public turning against them, WILL get their attention. In this, we are helped greatly by the recent polls that show the public strongly supported Kroger for their refusal to give in to MDA, and the even more recent polls showing the major loss of public goodwill towards Panera when they DID cave to MDA.
      I have spoken to a number of store managers, from different chains that implemented “no guns” policies, over the last year or so, and the argument that carries the most weight, and makes them “sit up and take notice,” is usually the one that goes: “I speak for many Americans who are simply offended by your company’s anti-civil rights (I use those words) stance.” I sometimes say I would no more patronize a store with a “no guns allowed” policy, than I would a store that had a “Whites Only” policy (I’m white), and for the same reason. When I also point out that I will tell all my friends about their anti-civil rights policies, not to mention the fact that their store is now more likely to be the scene of an armed robbery, they are typically quite surprised, and obviously haven’t given these issues any thought yet.

      The real problem is to get this information up to a higher level of corporate management then a local store manager. The best way to do that is probably by going into your local store and telling the manager (not just the counter person) that you are sorry, but for the above reasons you just don’t feel comfortable (use that word) in their store (or restaurant) anymore. You might also mention the recent national polls about Panera and Kroger’s, but it isn’t really necessary, because I guarantee you, the upper level management is already aware of them. They are just hoping the widespread antagonism to their policy will be short-lived and soon die down as another news item takes the headlines. So, to counter this, you need to keep going in periodically, “just checking to see if the company has changed its policy yet,” to keep them aware that the issue is still alive, and still impacting their business. If they haven’t changed their policy of course, you should then just sigh in disappointment, and leave without buying anything. It’s also a good idea to keep writing and/or E-mailing the corporate HQS about your displeasure with their policy.

    5. If I were to go into a Panera,I would be carrying.(Concealed) Who,in their right mind, would go into a place with the “NO GUNS” target signs on it? I would not risk the safety of my family especially since on of these shops in Orlando,Florida, got hit last night by the armed robbers.

    6. Panera didn’t ban anything. They “asked” people to not bring their weapons into their stores.
      They can “ask” whatever they want. It’s up to you to do it or not do it 😉
      But I do think they should be boycotted for being spineless.

    7. In the interest of full disclosure, for all my ranting abt the dept of mass victimization, I should confess that I give the dmv an extra $20/yr for Gadsden plates, and significantly more for vanity plates that read GNLBY1, & 2!

      Joke’s on me!

    8. Darren’s frustration is understandable, and, I’m sure, shared by all. Sadly, boycotting govt isn’t feasible.

      Let’s say I get a ticket, one that I HAVE to appear for. I can write to the court and acknowledge the judge’s authority, but politely boycott their gun free zone. I can then request that they render the appropriate judgement, and send me a bill. Question is, will the deputy at my door have a bill from the judge, or an arrest warrant for my failure to appear? I think we ALL know how THAT will turn out.

      There is NOWHERE ON EARTH that I would rather boycott than dmv. They are a catastrophic blend of apathy and incompetence. However, the deepest desires of my heart aside, if I fail to register, update my plates, get inspections, etc, Officer Friendly is going to cite me (even if he/she shares my sentiments), and I am right back in example #1.

      No one will arrest me for thumbing my nose at some chicken$#*+ bakery, greasy drive-in, or wildly over priced burrito. Govt is another matter. That requires a different solution. But Darren, don’t you DARE quit being angry, or spreading that anger wherever you can. “We the people” being pissed off is the only way that things change!

    9. For Darren:
      Some of us ARE boycotting government offices like the Post Office (I haven’t entered one since I got my CHL a decade ago) and SSA offices; however, they are sometimes the “only game in town.” I can, and do, use FedEx and UPS rather than the USPO, but I HAVE to go to the Social Security Office for paperwork related to them (unless I can do it – some of it – online). The problem stems from the fact that these govt offices, for example, the Post Office, don’t have to get an anti-gun law (which might never get through Congress) passed; they simply establish a USPO Policy, and then enforce it with the force of law. There is virtually no oversight on govt policies. It seems to me that the Postmaster General (head of the USPO) certainly has the executive authority to make policies for his employees, but where does he get the authority to make policies to regulate the behavior of the public? He could reasonably make a policy that his Mail Carriers can’t carry at work, and fire them if they do, but whence comes his right to have ME arrested and incarcerated for not following his policy? Good question, I think, and one that needs to be addressed at the congressional level. Maybe I can get my senator, Ted Cruz, to send a “Cruz missile” their way.

    10. Vince, Panera is ASKING people not to carry in their stores. That’s different from banning them from doing so.

      Despite this, Shannon Watts and Moms Demand Attention declare victory. Victory, it ain’t.

      Since the request doesn’t have the force of law (with the exception of vanilla trespass law, after the fact), it’s immaterial.

      That doesn’t mean that open carry in Panera wouldn’t draw consternation from the local cops, but it does mean that one can CCW and thumb his/her nose at the pansy corporate management.

      And the additional beauty? That insufferable nag Shannon Watts will have shut up and moved on.

    11. Perhaps instead of boycotting PB, we should just ignore their “polite request” to leave our guns at home and just go on, business as usual, guns concealed, cocked and locked. Then if something does happen, and a CCW saves their sorry asses, not only will they rescind their stupid policy, but somebody will get free coffee for life!

    12. Look what happened with jack-in-the box after they went with the no guns allowed people. They were hit how many times all within a week of putting up the no guns signs. This cafe’ will be getting hit all too soon I think , just sit back and watch, it will happen, this prediction just might open their eyes maybe just a little.

    13. Darren,

      I “get it.” If you are called to appear in court, are you going to carry your firearm and risk a felony??? Are you going to risk a felony by going to your kid’s school function and risk a felony?I don’t give a “free pass ” to anyone and in those circumstances you have to fight the policies legally. That is what I meant by that statement.

    14. “Sometimes, not being able to carry is unavoidable, like at a school function, government building/office…”

      Why aren’t we boycotting the govt over their no-guns policies? Just goes to show that even among the liberty minded there are those who don’t get it & give the govt a pass. It’s past time to be consistent. If we’re going to boycott Panera we should boycott the govt. If we’re not going to give Panera money let’s not give the govt any either.

    15. It’s hard to believe how anti-constitutional some citizens have become. That’s what you get after years in the public school system I guess – no appreciation for the freedoms that so many have fought and died for. There is a growing group of American people that enjoy freedoms they neither appreciate nor deserve. The leadership of Panera Bread just joined them!

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