January 1, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
So, Toby Keith the Oklahoman country singer and hit-maker (I Love this Bar, for one) turned restaurant-franchise owner (I Love this Bar, what else?) has hit a sour note with many of his gun-toting fans.
Seems for all his Oklahoman, rodeo, horse-riding, guitar-picking, flag-waving patriotism, Mr. Keith has come to a simple conclusion-guns ‘n booze don’t mix too well. He and his business advisors also did a little bit of research and discovered something else. In Virginia, despite laws allowing concealed guns, you also save some good old fashioned cash on your restaurant insurance liability policy when you serve booze at your guitar-shaped bar and ban firearms on your premises. Go figure.
So, like the predictable backlash-burn that comes after downing Toby Keith Nachos with double Jalapeno Habanero sauce, the blowback from gun-lovers who aimed their fury at Toby was fast and furious. And loud.
The twitter world blew up with many angrily tweeting they’d never again (or ever) step foot in any of the 15 (more planned in Dallas, Chicago, Jacksonville and Savannah) “I Love this Bar” locations. Unless of course, they and their firearms were both welcomed and seated with a sweet, country smile.
And as I continue to track this story, like Betsy the 15 year old mare, the same old tired arguments have been trotted out on both sides of this never-ending debate. The gun proponents cite tragedies like recent school shootings and don’t wish to be unarmed when the “bad guy” and his gun make an appearance. The gun opponents cite instances when arguments erupted in bars and if not for guns being readily available the worst that would have happened was that someone’s pride got wounded. Not their flesh.
So, who is right? Well, as Toby himself noted in addressing the fallout, he appreciates and respects all views. He also rightly points out that the division over his decision reflects the deep divisions over guns across our country.
Divided we continue to be in these United States. And it’s not like guns are going away anytime soon. According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, the USA is by far the most highly armed civilian population in the world. It is estimated that there are 275 million guns in our country or about 90 guns per every 100 citizens. That isn’t counting the roughly 3 million more guns that need to be registered, including nearly 500,000 machine guns and 2 million destructive devices which covers explosive items like grenades.
There are over 8 million active gun carry permits in the US with over 2 million issued in Florida alone since 1990.
Globally speaking, Serbia and Yemen come next with a little over 50 guns per every 100 of their citizens. Want to feel really safe when you saddle up to your watering hole of choice? Aim your travel compass in the direction of Fiji, Tunisia or the Solomon Islands. They have less than a quarter of a gun per every 100 of their sun ‘n surf loving inhabitants.
So, what’s a guitar-picking, simple country-boy restaurant-entrepreneur to do?
Well, the social media looks about 2-1 against Toby Keith but it’s too early yet to tell if the habanero sauce will hit the fan and hurt Mr. Keith’s bottom-line.
One thing’s for sure, long after people decide whether they’ll keep lovin’ Toby’s bar, the debate over guns in this country will still be here.
I wonder what they’re grilling up about now in Fiji?
PS: By the time you read this blog today another 90 US citizens will die from gun related violence. By the end of this new year of 2014, over 32,000 will die. It is true that guns alone do not kill. Sadly, someone continues to pull the trigger in each of these deaths.