A sign on a restaurant door that reads "No Guns Permitted" isn't likely to turn many heads at most restaurants.
But when the other, bigger sign heralding the name of the establishment reads "Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill," you can bet a few feathers are getting ruffled.
And indeed that's one of the biggest reactions since the country music star's restaurant opened last week in Woodbridge, Va., a Washington, D.C. suburb about a half hour south of the nation's capital.
The big sticking point is that gun-rights advocates note that Virginia law lets citizens enter restaurants and bars with openly visible weapons; while state law is silent on drinking while openly carrying a gun, it allows most citizens legally carrying concealed weapons to enter bars or restaurants as long as they don't consume alcohol, WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. reported.
But Toby Keith's is a private establishment, WTTG reported, and can prohibit firearms on the premises if it wants to.
Not lost in the dust-up is the contention that Keith seems like the last celebrity to advocate a "No Guns Permitted" policy, given his decidedly pro-America, pro-military stances and statements supporting carrying firearms like the one he gave to the Boston Herald in 2011 (subscription link):
The title of this tour and last year’s CD, “Bullets in the Gun,” suggest Keith likes his firearms. He laughed heartily at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s line about gun control meaning one should use both hands. Keith is legally licensed to carry and does so where permitted.
“I’m all about good people, licensed and trained, carrying a concealed weapon,” Keith said. “The bad guys are always gonna be carrying guns. There are so many guns in the U.S., and so many bad people that do harm with ’em. If just 1 percent of the non-felons would go get their concealed-weapons license and carry a gun where they can, 1 percent puts you in a pretty good position of being somebody that could save a bunch of people’s lives.
“If somebody asked me, ‘Why do you have one? What are you afraid of?’ I’d say, ‘I ain’t afraid of nothing. I carry so I don’t have to be.’ ”
Last week more than a dozen individuals posted protests about the "no guns permitted" rule on the restaurant's Facebook page, but the next day all of those posts were reportedly deleted, said InsideNova.
Clearly it's not terribly easy to keep up with public outcry on social media, and similar protests (and some kudos for the rule) were posted Friday on the bar & grill's Facebook page:
WTTG interviewed customers outside Toby Keith's to get their take on the "No Guns Permitted" rule.
"Well, I think it's a great idea," said Jayne Marconi, a visitor from Ohio. "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."
Clator Butler of Woodbridge told WTTG that the posted policy should be a non-issue.
"It's a private business," said Butler, "and [the business] has the right to set the rules that it wants."
TheBlaze on Friday contacted the manager on duty at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Woodbridge, but he had no comment.
Here's a report from WTTG: