Maine Restaurant Owner Takes A Stand Against Gun Violence, Get's Threatened By Gun Bullys

When Anne Verrill heard the news of another mass shooting by a man wielding an assault-style rifle - this time targeting young people in Florida - she thought "there but for the grace of God go my kids" and then jumped out the window of her safe echo chamber into the snake pit of gun zealots.

The owner of Grace Restaurant and Foreside Tavern had exhausted the conversation about gun violence with people she agreed with and saw the futility of signing another online petition. Words, thoughts and prayers aren't enough, and Congress, awash with gun-lobby money, is impotent to do the political work necessary to make changes. Senators in Washington live in a gun-free bubble opposing reasonable gun laws while the rest of us live in a glass house surrounded by people who love to throw rocks.

So Verrill put her money where her mouth is. She served up an announcement on Facebook that owners of assault-style weapons are no longer welcome in her establishments, with a picture of an assault weapon on the side.

"You don't privately own this weapon to protect your family, or to hunt. I understand that I may be offending members of my community, but this is a human issue, not a gun owners' issue, or a Second Amendment issue, it is about humans," she continued. "I cannot, in good conscience, accept anyone inside of my restaurants who believes that this is OK."

And so up went a red flag that quickly beckoned the usual army of right-wingers waving their yellow Gadsden flags and screaming about their right to bear arms, while spewing filth and spittle on Verrill's rights and all people of her ilk who believe repeated massacres of innocent civilians by military-style assault weapons is a human-rights issue.

Verrill's concern is not without merit. Since last July, seven out of eight of the high-profile mass shootings have been carried out by assault-style weapons. Terrorist groups around the world are buying U.S. guns to kill our citizens and our allies.

"America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms," American-born al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gadahn said in a video. "You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

The easy access to military-style weapons designed to kill large groups of people quickly is so ridiculous - so completely moronic - that even Donald Trump agrees it's a bad idea to let people on a terrorist watch list buy them.

Time will tell whether Verrill shot herself in the foot for taking a stand, or whether her courage will inspire business people everywhere to get off the sidelines and into the ring. Corporations may be the only "people" immune from high-capacity magazines of ammunition, and clearly there's a market for gun-violence solutions.

Let's out and shame all those who profit from mass murder. Let's report people who make threats and say incendiary and disgusting things online to their employers. Let's take away public benefits from people who use the town square we now call the internet to threaten and harass.

We don't have to accept the extraordinary amount of gun violence in America. It's not inevitable - it's a choice, and everyone who throws up their arms in despair and avoids difficult conversations about it are complicit. And we don't have to tolerate bullying by gun fanatics online or surrender the internet to terrorists and organizations intent of harming people.

Business owners can refuse customers with a fetish for assault-style guns designed primarily to kill people, and they should. There's a difference between banning people who own guns from your restaurant and refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple or a black man.

"There is nothing intrinsic to the human person about owning a gun. Being a gun owner is not a protected characteristic under the Maine Human Rights Act," according to Mary Bonauto, the Maine lawyer who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the historic case Obergefell v. Hodges, establishing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide and winner of a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship award.

You may have a right to own and carry certain guns, but not all guns. You can't own and carry a shoulder-fired missile, for instance. There is a line between what guns citizens can have and what weapons are reserved for the military. Until lawmakers adjust the line and make it bright, there are actions we can take and should. Send your thoughts and prayers to Verrill for her courage, and then jump out of the box you've been thinking in.