NEWTON, CT—Anti-gun violence advocates penned an open letter Monday to Subway's CEO John Chidsey, urging him to do more to keep customers safe from the threat of gun violence. The request comes after nearly a dozen mostly-armed demonstrators protesting North Carolina's stay-at-home order purchased sandwiches at a Subway in Raleigh on May 9.
"We are certain that public safety is a key concern for you and your managers. Many prominent American businesses, including Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, Wegmans, and others, have established clear policies that ask individuals to leave their guns at home," the letter to Subway's CEO reads. "And Subway, a company headquartered in Connecticut, that prides itself on 'provid[ing] workers with a safe and healthy work environment' and publicly proclaims that, 'We are committed to supporting our community, being responsible partners, and giving back,' must follow suit."
The recent images of armed demonstrators ordering food from Subway were taken by Travis Long, a photojournalist with The News & Observer. Since posting the photos to Twitter, they have been shared nearly 8,000 times and liked by more than 22,000 people.
Images of armed demonstrators recently in Subway:
A group of about 11 mostly-armed demonstrators protesting the stay at home order marched around downtown Raleigh and ordered sandwiches at a Subway. #Covid_19 #ncpol #MealTeamSix pic.twitter.com/XA1BIU7JHH
— Travis Long (@vizjourno) May 9, 2020
One image shows a man with what appears to be an AT4 rocket launcher slung on his back as well as two guns in holsters on either side of his waist. Another photo shows a man wearing a black bandana with sandwich in hand and his rifle propped next to him. Another photo shows several people with guns in hand, waiting their turn to order food. A fourth photo shows a man posing with a large gun in hand as he takes a selfie outside of the restaurant.
"This incident was not the first time armed individuals were in Subway. In 2016,
The letter was sent on behalf of Newtown Action Alliance, which was formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012; Guns Down America; and Daily Kos. These groups want Chidsey to prohibit people from openly carrying weapons in all Subway restaurants across the country.
"Research has consistently found that the presence of a visible firearm makes people more aggressive, transforming mere disagreements into violent, and potentially deadly, confrontations," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, Subway is no stranger to gun violence. According to analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, Subway has experienced at least 65 incidents of gun violence in or near its restaurants nationwide since 2014, resulting in 21 deaths and 28 injuries."
Headquartered in Milford, CT, Subway is the world's largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 40,000 locations around the world, according to the company's website. Patch has reached out to Subway for comment on the letter sent to its CEO and is still waiting for a response.
The letter was signed by 153 families and survivors who have been directly impacted by gun violence. To read the letter in its entirety, see below: