The typical hospitality-industry gun debate is over whether customers can bring their weapons inside with them, but a Maine restaurant owner has just announced a bold, Thought Police–y extension of her ban to include more than the physical firearms. In a Facebook post earlier this week, Anne Verrill made open-carrying semiautomatics at her two Portland restaurants, Grace and Foreside Tavern, effectively a moot point by saying anyone who even supports owning that kind of gun is no longer welcome at her establishments. Next to a picture of an AR-15 (a gun similar to the one Omar Mateen used in Orlando), she wrote:
If you own this gun, or you condone the ownership of this gun for private use, you may no longer enter either of my restaurants, because the only thing I want to teach my children is love.
She tried explaining her reasoning, adding in part:
You don’t privately own this weapon to protect your family, or to hunt. I understand that I may be offending members of my community, but this is a human issue, not a gun owners issue, or a second amendment issue, it is about humans. I cannot, in good conscience, accept anyone inside of my restaurants who believes that this is ok. Love is love, and only light can drive out darkness. I would be ashamed, as a parent and a human, if I did not use this platform to speak up. How many people have to bury their loved ones before we say together, no more.
Local media say the ban provoked immediate outrage, and even a little confusion about how it would be carried out, from gun-rights activists. They blasted it as clear discrimination and made statements explaining how Verrill has really “stepped in a pile of it” with this move. This drove several to make their own piles by writing the obligatory one-star review on Yelp or Facebook.
Verrill ultimately pulled the post Wednesday (she says the comments got too nasty), but now says the “vitriol spewed” in response validates her fears. She posted a new message yesterday afternoon defending the original, adding she doesn’t care “if you have 12 hunting rifles” if you’re a law-abiding person. “I want people to not have the power to own weapons of war,” she says. “If you do not understand why I do not want a weapon designed to kill at that kind of rate of speed in my restaurants then there is nothing I can do about that.”