When Maine restaurateur Anne Verrill banned anyone who supports even the idea of open-carrying semiautomatics from her two Portland eateries this summer, she knew it’d strike NRA-card-carriers as a little Orwellian. But it came on the heels of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and she probably thought people demanding Second Amendment rights would respect hers under the First Amendment. Well, the Boston Globe checked in on her yesterday and discovered the response, in fact, has been “overwhelmingly hostile” — also known as the last kind of response you want from angry fans of high-powered weaponry.
Verrill says business hasn’t suffered much overall, but she tells the paper there’s now “a wariness among the staff — a new, extra layer of caution — that did not exist” before her ban went viral. The staff had to become “constantly more aware of [their] surroundings,” she says. “I knew I might upset some people, but I never could have foreseen what happened.” The fallout has included the standard stuff (like online reviews “plummeting”), but she adds fake reservations have “wreaked havoc” on management, and threats of physical violence started pouring in by phone around the clock. According to Verrill, people even got on Facebook and posted comments like, “I hope you get robbed and ask for help. I would laugh,” and, “Perhaps you should keep it a Muslim-only zone since they preach the love you adore so much. Then teach your kids to walk among them. Your attitude will change when they start beheading your family.”
For what it’s worth, Verrill says she isn’t going table-to-table giving patrons the third degree about open carry. She technically could prohibit concealed weapons if she posted a ban, but so far has decided against that, too. “If they are going to bring a gun into a restaurant,” she figures, “they don’t care if you have a sign outside.”