It’s Not Yours –
Country music star Toby Keith has decided to parlay his musical success into the restaurant business by opening a string of “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill” (the name is a play on one of his more popular songs) across the country. How involved Keith actually is in the day-to-day operations of the restaurants I don’t know. It could be nothing more than receiving a check for the use of his name, or it could be full supervision or anywhere in between. Doesn’t really matter, as Keith’s restaurants (specifically the one in Woodbridge, VA) are now at the center of one of the most idiotic “controversies” I’ve heard about in a long time.

The new establishment has a sign inside the front door that reads “No Guns Allowed.” And whether it’s because people can’t conceive of a cowboy hat-wearing guitar slinger turning gun-grabbing liberal, or whether it’s because people just can’t go more than five minutes without another pathetic, manufactured outrage, this nothing-of-a-story has now garnered a nationwide spotlight. Frankly, when I’m choosing a restaurant I tend to focus on whether the service and the food are worth the price, not on whether I can bring my trusty gat in with me…but maybe I’m the crazy one.

And like all good non-controversies, this one is focused on splitting people into two camps along lines that have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. On one side, you have the second-amendment purists who are truly among the most rabbit-scared members of our American society in 2013. They’re spinning yarns about how criminals will now line the parking lots of all of Keith’s establishments just waiting for the beer-and-burger filled patrons to stumble unarmed into their waiting hands to be robbed, raped and otherwise brutalized. Might as well draw a huge target on every location with a sign that says “UNARMED PATRONS INSIDE! FREE PICKINGS FOR ASPIRING FELONS!” You know, just like the criminals who hover outside every supermarket, toy store, bank, medical center, movie theater and sports stadium in the country, the overwhelming majority of which also have no gun policies. But whatever. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

And then there’s the other side. The one that believes that any business serving alcohol is just begging to have a gun battle erupt on a nightly basis. This brand of scared-rabbitude maintains that everyone with a gun also possesses a personal hair-trigger, and the only thing keeping them from going all James “I’m going hunting humans” Huberty is the fact that they haven’t had a beer yet. Also laughable considering how many gun owners there are in this country and how very, very few of them ever unload into anything more dangerous than a paper target. Again, facts trump fears.

If I had to guess why the policy was formed, I would seize on one word: liability. Do I think every person with a gun who has a beer will shoot someone? No. Do I think it could happen once? Sure. As the owner, do I want to be on the business end of a lawsuit because my bartender cut someone off who then pulled a gun and shot him? Do I want to answer the suit after my bartender overserves two guys who get into an argument and one of them ends up with a hole in him? Do I want to explain to a jury why I felt it was okay to serve whiskey to an armed man who shot his gun into the air to celebrate a Cavs touchdown and had the ricochet end up in the stomach of a seven-year-old girl? No, no and no. And even if none of these things ever happens, do I really want to pay the added insurance premiums that go along with allowing you to bring your six-shooter into my bar? Again, no.

But the truth is that both arguments totally miss the point. There is only ONE thing that matters at all here. It’s his restaurant – period. He makes the rules – period. He doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, he doesn’t have to justify it to anyone, and no, Fox News, he isn’t violating anybody’s 2nd amendment rights. It’s his store, and “No Guns Allowed” is no more a news story than “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.” And if his actions really, really piss you off then you can exercise your real freedom and go eat somewhere else. But can you for once please spare us the phony outrage? We’ve really had enough.


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