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A TTAG reader writes:

“The Waffle House located in Nicholasville, Kentucky (a suburb just south of Lexington), recently hit the local news for refusing to serve a Kentucky National Guardsman who had just finished his day on duty and was open-carrying his sidearm while in uniform. He was told to leave the gun in his car if he wanted to be served. According to the Kentucky Revised Statutes . . .

“all ‘no gun’ signs have to be posted on every entrance to a business if the owner(s) do not wish for firearms to be carried inside. Full disclosure here…I live in Nicholasville, and have eaten at that particular waffle house before, and never seen any ‘no gun’ sign on the door.”

According to the news report, Guardsman Billy Welch said, “I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me. I always keep it with me and they said, ‘it’s one of our policies.’”

And when this particular Waffle House owner was contacted for comment, he issued the anodyne statement at the top regarding their universal customer disarmament policy. For the safety of their customers and associates.

Does that sacred policy apply to police officers and state troopers who may come in for breakfast after an overnight shift? We called the store, but the manager on duty wasn’t sure. We’re pretty sure, though, that hungry 2A supporters in the greater Lexington area may want to re-think where they spend their dining dollars.

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  1. I haven’t been to a Waffle House in years. They seem to have the “make it badly and sell it cheaply” segment of the market cornered, though.

  2. Unless something has changed very recently, he should not have been carrying openly or concealed while in uniform, on or off base. A stupid military policy, but one nonetheless. National Guard may be a different situation, but if he was Active Duty I’m positive he’d be called on the carpet.

        • Yes…. I’d better qualify that with I got out in 98 (as an MP).. odds that has changed since then are about the same as a coin toss these days.

        • I don’t know how TN works, but in San Diego HELL NO. You get your weapon issued at the start of shift, you turn it in when you’re done.

    • outwardhound, I’m not sure about current policies, but in the 80s and 90s, I was part of an active-duty firearms training unit that routinely moved automatic weapons from an active USAF base to an Army National Guard machinegun range for training (400+ miles each way). We traveled in USAF-marked vehicles (usually Suburbans or crew-cab P/U trucks), wore utility uniforms (green cottom utilities or later, BDUs), and were ALWAYS armed (both sidearms and chamber-empty-but-mag-in-place rifles/carbines).

      There was absolutely no problem with short stops at non-military retail outlets for food, bathroom breaks, etc. Long guns stayed in/with the vehicle personnel (always attended), but sidearms stayed with/on the person — no exceptions (holstered revolver/pistol on gunbelt went into the stall with us for bathroom stops). And no, we were not MPs or USAF LE/Security.

      • Now that I am able to view the video (couldn’t see it before due to an ad-blocker), I see that the pistol in question was a Ruger, and so almost certainly a personally-owned weapon. Most of my comments above pertained to wearing military-issued weapons during weapon transport duties, NOT personal weapons.

        For the record, the phrase “his weapon”, as used in the article and its description, above, does not clearly delineate the difference between a service member’s issued weapon and a personal weapon. For a civilian, the meaning of “his weapon” is clear; for a service member who regularly performs duties under arms, not so much.

      • As former Air Guard Security Police CATM, I can tell you that, unlike the Army, we carry our Beretta M9 pistols “hot;” i.e.: fully-loaded magazine, round in the chamber and the Safety OFF.

        • Go CATM! Actually, I was in early enough to initially be under SAMTU (Small Arms Marksmanship Training Unit) before it was changed to CATM, and I retired after CATM was administratively placed under the Security Police, but before it became a branch of the Cops’ career field. AFSC 753×0 initially, then 3P1x1(?) for me.

    • Something HAS changed recently. DoD Directive 5210.56 delegates firearms policy decisions to base commanders. Until recently, this was universally interpreted as no firearms allowed, with exceptions for members in base housing (and storage requirements), security forces, those AAFES locations that sell firearms (Little Rock and Dyess AFB are two examples), etc.

      However, commanders have taken renewed interest in allowing members to carry firearms, generally allowing folks to leave firearms in their vehicles while at work (unloaded, locked up). When members leave base, they can be armed just like any other citizen, state laws permitting. My base recently made this change. Tennessee Guard made some changes as well, after the shootings at the recruiting offices. The motivation at my base is that ISIS 100 hit list back in the spring, where many members on the list were stationed in my unit.

      Hopefully the word spreads and this becomes the norm, at least in CONUS.

    • The implied answer to your question may trump the train of thought I had. I.e., if he was not allowed to carry then he was not authorized to carry.

      Nevertheless, in case is WAS authorized to carry then the question on my mind is whether the proprietor has any right to refuse him service.

      It is unthinkable that a restaraunt would refuse service to a State or municipal police officer. Could a restaraunt proprietor do so lawfully? I don’t know; but, if not, why not? Is it because the cop has a right to service (all other considerations being equal)? I.e., could the same cop NOT waring a gun be refused service for no reason whatsoever or because the proprietor did not want to serve cops? Let’s assume that the proprietor could not.

      Now, let’s arm the cop under the power of the State. How does that change the situation? The cop has the right to service and the power of the State to bear arms.

      This National Guardsman on-duty is either going about under the orders of his State or the Federal government. Can the proprietor deny service to a person who has a right to service and is bearing arms under the power of the state (whether the State of the US or the US itself)?

      Perhaps I depart from the wrong premise. Perhaps a proprietor has the right to refuse service to a cop (assuming for the argument, that he might be unarmed). Is this so? That is, would the cop have to assert a pretext to be carrying-out his duties by responding to a report of some violation of the law in order to trump the proprietor’s right to exclude the cop? If this is true than I suppose it follows that a proprietor has a right to exclude a non-cop from his premises.

      Yet, if my premise is correct than it seems that the proprietor has no right to exclude either an un-armed cop nor an un-armed non-cop from his premises.

      Now, if the armed cop comes for lunch and along comes an armed non-cop comes for lunch, on what basis does the proprietor exclude the armed non-cop? Is it because the:
      – cop is armed by the POWER of the State; whereas,
      – non-cop is armed by RIGHT of the People guaranteed by the Constitution?

      From whence came the State’s power to arm its agents? By delegation by the People? An unalienable right which becomes stronger upon delegation to the State?

      There is something wrong with this reasoning that makes me deeply suspicious of the proposition that the proprietor’s property right trumps the citizen’s right to bear arms while it does NOT trump the cop’s POWER to bear arms.

    • The fact that any service member would be called out for being armed should give us pause and is the real problem.

  3. Awful House? It’s just an expensive place to go for garbage diner food after a night out. Would anyone really eat there sober-ish?

      • 3 eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and a soda was almost a 10 spot, sans gratuity a decade ago. Perhaps that has changed, and I have missed it. The meals were always designed to be incomplete, so you had to build a decent order ala carte.

        Back in the day, rollin’ in at 5 am with a girl on the way back to my place, I didn’t care too much. Now that being a man who can cook is hip, I skip the diner.

    • I love Waffle House, i have all my life. We don’t have any where I live but if I am on a trip in an area that has one, I will stop at least once.

  4. I would love to have a 5 star restaurant, send invitations to all of the politicians that think this is ok, then tell them I have a “no armed guards” policy. 10% off for open carry or flashing a CHP.

    • Sounds hit or miss, depending upon the state and local ownership.

      What is clear is that in 2015 America, it’s ok to discriminate against and violate the civil rights of two groups of people: gun owners and the overweight.

      Maybe not every Waffle House location is discriminatory, but of those that are, which group is the more likely to catch flak from these people? Hint: it’s not going to be the group whose waistline is directly tied to Waffle House’s bottom line.

      • Discrimination is a natural human right. Any law which bans discrimination is an unjust law and a tool of tyranny.

        • No, sir, not when there’s a collective resource involved. If we’re all citizens and we’re all paying taxes, then there is no moral justification for denying an unpopular minority access to those resources we all own, such as university admissions, simply on the basis of race, for example.

          Now, private businesses, I’d agree, should be free to discriminate as they choose. The market will punish them for indulging their prejudice, by way of lost sales, or reward them for their openness, but that’s their business. The essence of private property is exclusivity, after all.

          You own it, you alone decide whom to include/exclude, but you alone also incur all the costs associated with that decision. That’s not the case with public (government owned) resources. Discrimination there imposes private owner-like decisions excluding some people, but is not paired with privatization of all the costs. Rather, costs are spread across everyone, including those excluded arbitrarily.

  5. I don’t recall any US military units that allow for soldiers to take their sidearms with them off- base outside of a national emergency. I would guess that the firearm was his personal sidearm and he was probably not carrying that same firearm ON duty.

    Regardless, they did not refuse him service, they asked him to remove the firearm from the premise to his vehicle. He chose to leave. He refused himself service based on the proprietor’s request.

    • Leaving a military firearm in the vehicle unattended would have gotten him court-martialled, if anything happened to the weapon.

      (copied from another response, above)

      I’m not sure about current policies, but in the 80s and 90s, I was part of an active-duty firearms training unit that routinely moved automatic weapons from an active USAF base to an Army National Guard machinegun range for training (400+ miles each way). We traveled in USAF-marked vehicles (usually Suburbans or crew-cab P/U trucks), wore utility uniforms (green cottom utilities or later, BDUs), and were ALWAYS armed (both sidearms and chamber-empty-but-mag-in-place rifles/carbines).

      There was absolutely no problem with short stops at non-military retail outlets for food, bathroom breaks, etc. Long guns stayed in/with the vehicle personnel (always attended), but sidearms stayed with/on the person — no exceptions (holstered revolver/pistol on gunbelt went into the stall with us for bathroom stops). And no, we were not MPs or USAF LE/Security.

    • They actually DID refuse service to him, until he took his gun off and left it in the car. It’s still refusal of service. It is not acceptable to leave a military fire arm unattended in a personal vehicle.

  6. Well that’s all sorts of jacked up. He’s probably not even allowed to have his forearm leave his possession. These guys hit more or less every button I have in regards to customer service.

  7. Thanks to the Nicholasville TTAG reader for the heads-up.

    I would appreciate a follow-up, whenever it’s appropriate, to let us know if/when Mr. Daniels changes his tune, puts up signs to comply with the law, or closes his doors for lack of customers.

  8. Wait so — I thought we were OK with the “Only trusted/trained ones” eg Police & Military carrying… That not the case anymore?

  9. There’s all sorts of things fouled up here. The soldier is not permitted under uniform regulations to have an Open-Carry Weapon. If he were off duty, and the local laws permitting, concealed carry would have been fine. The only circumstances where open carry in uniform would be if it were part of the uniform. That would be if he were Military Police (who typically wear modern LE type gear/ utility belt) and are clearly wearing an MP armband. That is official duty stuff, just like any LEO. Don’t think that was the case here. If he were part of a unit and were completely in Ninja Turtle Mode (Load Bearing Vest/Equipment, etc) and part of an official duty military detail that had elevated security requirements……don’t think that was the case here also. The soldier was clearly out of uniform and obligated under uniform regulations to go concealed carry. The Waffle House is jacked up because they were in violation of State Law by not posting the appropriate signage at the door. Lastly, WH is jacked up because it was just bad customer service and clearly deserving of the negative economic consequences of their business model.

  10. Well this is different…..usually when I hear about Waffle House it’s in regard to fist fights, race riots or some such. Check you tube vids for a laugh. If this is your only food option you are in tough shape.

  11. The KY Governor allowed the KYNG to carry on duty as a result of the Chattanooga shootings. KY has open carry as well as concealed carry. Even if a private business is posted, all they can do is ask you to leave or not come inside with a gun. There is no criminal offense. Maybe a trespassing charge if you refuse to leave, I don’t know? WH HQ say it is company policy to bar firearms.The WH store in question’s owner says LEOs can carry in his restaurants. He says they enforce the policy only loosely re guns. This is a bit different than what he originally stated to the TV station for their report. He is now saying, the guy was involved in a dispute some time back and was escorted out of the store by some off-duty LEOs who were also there at the time. The waitresses/mgr on duty apparently recognized the guy from before and became uncomfortable given the time of day which is why they asked him to take his gun outside to be served. He decided to just leave with no fuss no mess. Someone else posted on the incident which is how all this started. The TV station dude asked the owner why he didn’t say what he’s now saying for the original broadcast and got no reply that I’m aware of. I’d guess that particular WH has lost some business as a result of all this nonsense. Probably WH in general will lose some business as people learn HQ policy.

    • “WH HQ say it is company policy to bar firearms”

      I have heard the franchise owner say he bars them from his stores (he claims he has signs posted but some folks who have been to the store in question are saying otherwise), but nothing from WH HQ. Do you have a link to where WH HQ has posted that policy? I am curious as I have carried in a WH numerous times.

  12. Whether or not there were signs, it is within a private business’ rights to ask someone who they know has a gun to leave or put it in the car. So the whole “they didn’t have signs posted at every entrance” carries no weight in a private business, unless they wanted to charge him with trespassing and the signs met the minimum state criteria (if the carry force of law there, I don’t know).

    That’s another reason why I conceal carry rather than open carry – in my state signs don’t carry force of law, so unless the [private] business knows I have a gun (which they won’t), no one will ask me to leave. Public/Federal buildings, well, now that is a different story, of course.

    That said, I never run into open carriers away from my LGS (since that can hardly count as witness to an open carrier) and I have yet to see a private business with a no guns sign.

    • “it is within a private business’ rights to ask someone who they know has a gun to leave or put it in the car. “

      Wrong. Or partially so. Private business owners cannot ask you to put your firearm in the car. They have ZERO right to disarm you. They have no right or control over what you do with YOUR property (the gun).

      That DO have say in you being on their property..for any reason gun or no gun. But that is very different than asking you to put your gun in your car.

      Business Owner: “You’ll have to put your gun in your car.”
      Law Abiding Gun Owner: “Nope.”
      Business Owner: “I don’t want you in here with your gun.”
      Law Abiding Gun Owner: “You have no rights or privileges to tell me to do anything at all with MY property.”
      Business Owner: “Then you’ll have to leave.”
      Law Abiding Gun Owner: “Are you requesting that I leave your property?”
      Business Owner: “Yes.”
      Law Abiding Gun Owner: “Okay. Bye.”

      The two issues are not connected. They may be in the BO’s Mainstream Media fueled mind, but in terms of basic rights, they are not connected at all.

        • Please do. And please include a discussion of why a cake shop can be successfully sued for refusing service based on personal views of the owner/manager, but WH is well within its rights to refuse service to someone behaving in an entirely lawful manner?

          Please don’t take this as snark, I’m truly interested.

  13. Waffle House is a cash-only establishment, and as such is one of the most frequently targeted for robberies.

    Anyone eating at a Waffle House while willingly disarming himself is a fool.

  14. Unless the door has a gun buster sign, carry is completely legal.
    Granted, WH sux. I make better waffles at home.
    My kids fave is Chocolate chip chocolate cake waffles.

  15. Learn something new everyday, they buy Smithfield pork products, which is owned by the chinese. While the pork is still raised here in the US, rather just not add to their profit margins if I can avoid it.

    “If you laid all of the Smithfield Bacon that Waffle House® serves in a year, end-to-end, it would wrap all the way around the equator!”

    The no firearm policy is just there in Lexington area that Mr Daniels own, who would have guessed in KY that a company is Anti-2A.

  16. I wonder how often this sort of thing happens – an open carrier being asked to leave a restaurant or store. I’d guess a lot more than are reported on, but don’t have any numbers.


  17. You know, protesters gathered together at popular brunch locations, just milling about and eating, to protest wealth inequality – maybe open carriers could do the same to this, and other, Waffle House? If it’s a peaceful protest, can they stop it?

    • Denny’s, Tacobell, Waffle House, places I go when I feel like a good gastrointestinal house cleaning or am trying to give an enemy diarrhea

  18. Grayson KY. It’s waffle house or Micky D’s or Long John Silver’s……. you get the picture. There ain’t no fine dining there.

    At least waffle house has biscuits and gravy. Not good biscuits and gravy mind, but they have it. And I’ve never actually gotten food poisening there. Thank you very much Micky D’s and Subway.

    But after seeing this I think I’ll just run over to WV for dinner next time I’m in the area. Huntington has a couple of decent places to eat. There’s a place right across the street from Mack and Daves, a hotel buffett that I can’t recall the name of, that does good and plentiful food.

  19. The part about that story that irks me the most is where they quoted that lady who said she wanted to stand up for him, but didn’t. Way to be lady.

  20. I once heard somewhere a tail of a town with two Waffle Houses, one banned guns, the other didn’t. The former went out of business when it was robbed multiple times by thugs unafraid of any potential resistance, scaring away potential customers. The other is still in business. When are people going to learn that the people who go through the trouble of obtaining a weapon legally are NOT the people you should be worried about?

  21. Nobody “goes” to the Waffle House. Waffle House is more the kind of place where you “end up.” They’re notorious for late night armed robberies, too.

    Still, for various and sundry reasons, you sometimes find yourself out very late at night and very hungry. That double order of scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped can sure hit the spot.

    I didn’t realize they were independently owned franchises, though. It’ll be interesting to see how the local units address open carry in Texas come January. I’ve never seen a no-guns sign at any WH in the twenty years since concealed carry came to Texas. So we’ll see.

  22. This is why Waffle Houses haven’t become as numerous as Donut shops… You’re supposed to WELCOME the the good guys with guns (free coffee with their food, good guy discount on food). There is no better security system.

  23. theres nothing we can or should do. there will also be nothing the store will be able to do from getting robbed out of business. they will make a perfect example of what happens when businesses are this stupid.

  24. Back in 1986 or 1987 some dummies in the USMC were traveling from El Toro to Camp Lejeune for rifle qualifications. Back then, officers and staff NCO’s were allowed to drive themselves there, with their weapons in the car. They decided to stop at McDonalds and they didn’t think it would be safe to leave their rifles in the trunk of their car, so they carried them inside. Scared a lot of people in McDonalds and the privilege of transporting ourselves to the rifle range was forever lost.

  25. Because of the posse comitatus laws, and because it was an order they were supposed to obey. They screwed up a good deal for almost thirty years.


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