Bringing Guns to Dinner
Zazzy, Mayo, and I just returned from dinner at TGIFridays. At the table directly adjacent to us was an extended family, among them two young children who appeared to be about 12-months-old and 2- to 3-years-old. One of the family members — a man in his early 20s — had what I’m 99% sure was a handgun tucked into the back of his jeans.
I was not comfortable with this.
Let me repeat… I. Was. Not. Comfortable. With. This.
Those of you who know me know that discomfort is not a feeling I typically have. But had it I did.
Let me flesh the scene out a bit more. The gun was unholstered. The man was drinking. The older child was fully ambulatory and at one point was on the man’s lap horsing around. And we were sitting less than 10 feet away with our 9-month-old son. This seemed like a highly combustible situation.
I alerted Zazzy who initially expressed disbelief but refused to turn and look for fear of drawing unnecessary attention (her back was to the table). She then implored me to not do or say anything, finish dinner, and we’d go. I insisted I couldn’t even do that. I had zero intention of confronting or even interacting with the man but also had zero intention of keeping my wife and son in that situation any longer than was necessary. We were just about done with the meal so I told her to take Mayo out to the car, I would pay the bill, and I would alert a manager out of eyesight of the man. Which is exactly what I did.
The manager seemed shocked that she had to deal with a situation more intense than burned onion fritters. I understand that being a manager at Friday’s isn’t the highest stakes of jobs, but she probably should have been slightly more prepared for just such a situation. I doubt this is the first or the last time someone will be in there with a gun and when you have a full-service bar and no obvious security staff, you need someone who can step up and take charge of such a situation (even if that means alerting people better suited to take direct action).
“Maybe he’s an off-duty cop.”
“Maybe… but I’m pretty sure they would at least holster their weapon and would never stick it in the waistband of a pair of jeans.”
“Do you know what the law is?”
“I don’t. And, honestly, I don’t care what the law is. I fully respect the rights of gun owners, but I just wanted to let you know that there is currently a situation in your establishment which I am highly uncomfortable with. We have paid our bill, we are leaving, but it seemed like something you’d want to be aware of.”
“Well, I can’t just call him out. We have a sign on the door telling people not to bring in firearms.”
“That’s your prerogative. The man hasn’t done anything beyond what I’ve described to indicate he’s dangerous or otherwise abnormal, but an unholstered weapon on the person of someone drinking and in the midst of children is a bad situation.”
And with that I left.
I’m curious to hear some feedback. Did I do too much? Not enough? Is this normal? Is this a part of gun culture and ruralish America that I’m unfamiliar with? How do gun owners and gun advocates feel about the situation as I’ve described it? What would you have done? What laws may be applicable (we are in Orange County, NY)?
To piggyback on Burt’s post of which the title came from, what are appropriate expectations for the presence of guns in family restaurants? Family restaurants that have full-service bars? Should this man have been denied service until such time that he returned gun-free? Or am I wrong to feel entitled to a gun-free dinner?