The newest location of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill restaurant chain has generated some local controversy among gun lovers in Virginia. The new restaurant in Woodbridge, Va., prominently posted a "no guns permitted" sign on its front door, which became the source of the flap.
Reports Fox 5
in nearby Washington, D.C., "Virginia happens to be a gun-friendly state, where it’s quite permissible for citizens to strap on a weapon and go into a bar or restaurant, as long as the weapon is clearly visible. State law is silent on the issue of drinking while openly carrying a gun. (State law does prohibit most citizens who are legally carrying a concealed weapon from consuming alcohol, but they, too, are allowed to go into a bar or restaurant.)"
As the Huffington Post
further reports, "Virginia state law allows bar and restaurant owners to ban weapons from the premises, as long as they prominently display a gun-free sign in the establishment. However, 'No Firearm' signs in Virginia do not carry the force of law unless the property is specifically mentioned in state law as off limits to individuals with a permit or license to carry."
The TV station reports the restaurant's Facebook page has "erupted over the issue," with some potential patrons threatening to stay away as a result of the policy.
One person wrote, “That sign on the door means that I will never try your restaurant . . . It is a cultural thing among we Americans . . . It is the fact that you seek to restrict a Constitutional right that bothers the public. This is what will cost you.”
Another user posted, “I am now ashamed to say I was ever a fan of yours [T]oby. You truly are a hypocrite.”
But all of the customers interviewed by FOX outside the bar endorsed the policy.
One female customer told the station, "I think it's a great idea. Anywhere there's an establishment that serves alcohol, I'm going to tell you right now, alcohol can make you do funny things. So that [pointing to the 'no guns' sign] absolutely makes me feel more comfortable."
The Woodbridge location is Toby's 17th restaurant. He has a second location in another part of the state, Newport News.