“I have spent 12 years, intentionally, not being political on this page,” Portland, Maine restauranteur Anne Verrill wrote on Facebook. “Let me be clear, this is not a political issue. This is a human rights issue. If you own this gun [an AR-15], or you condone the ownership of this gun for private use, you may no longer enter either of my restaurants, because the only thing I want to teach my children is love.” Ms. Verrill made the “love makes me shun you” pronouncement after the Orlando spree killing. Late last night, she removed the original posts and put this up instead:
My facebook post last night was born from a simple question from my younger sister which was about whether my daughter was going to march with her worthy organization in the PRIDE parade in Portland this weekend. My response was, “No.” No, because I just don’t want to run the risk of having my daughter in a group of happy and proud people celebrating equality in a public space in a city that I love because I am scared. I let the fear win. I let the actions of dozens of lunatics over several years change the way I look at the world around me. My first thought about large gatherings was fear. It was then I realized that I am living in a world I don’t even recognize anymore.
When my children grow up and they ask me what I did to help change the course of gun violence will I say to them, I liked some face book memes and talked to like- minded people about our outrage and sadness. I signed some petitions relatively anonymously and held moments of silence? I felt sorry for the children in elementary school and children in movie theatres? Or will I say that I used the loudest voice I knew to shout my outrage and condemn the violence and beg for change in the most effective way I could see. Will I stand on the right side of history?
I don’t want to take away guns of responsible gun owners. I don’t care if you have 12 hunting rifles if you are a responsible hunter. I want people to not have the power to own weapons of war. I want our government to be able to deny someone they can put on the “no fly” lists to not buy a semi-automatic weapon. If you do not understand why I do not want a weapon designed to kill at that kind of rate of speed in my restaurants then there is nothing I can do about that. But I am not going to hide behind not politicizing myself for fear of my economic security. If evil and hate want to boycott my restaurants then so be it because I believe good will be on my side on this. As long as my doors are open I will believe that love is love. And when my children ask me where I was on this, I will say I was right there, fighting for a better world for us and for all those people who lost their lives.
Let it not go unsaid, the vitriol spewed to my original post validates my fear. However, I am still in control of my reaction. My reaction is the love that I have for my family, friends, employees and loyal guests whom I hope to constantly shower with respect and human decency regardless of what is said of me.
Note: Mr. Verrill’s original post dis-invited Granite State gun owners who own or support ownership of “military-style” rifles. Not just people who want to bring their rifle into “Maine’s most romantic restaurant” or Ms. Verrill’s tavern, should such people exist. As for the vitriol posted on her Facebook page, we condemn it, just as we seek to keep TTAG a flame-free zone. That said, the truth hurts. As Ms. Verrill will discover as her till receipts take a hit.