I have to confess that I’ve been a fan of Toby Keith’s music since I heard “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” came out my senior year in college, and “You Ain’t Much Fun” the following year. I enjoy his songs supporting the patriotism and the military (Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” “American Soldier,” and “The Taliban Song”) and his actions supporting the troops and their families both here at home, and overseas.

Keith has spent a lot of time touring for the troops in combat zones and other bases overseas, and supports an Oklahoma non-profit called Ally’s House that helps support families battling childhood cancer.

But Keith is in the news now not for any of the good he’s done (largely unseen by the American people, because the media don’t like promoting the works of a patriotic redneck from Oklahoma), but because the media sees an opportunity to skewer him because of a sign on the door of his newest restaurant in Virginia.


A big country star opened a huge, new restaurant last week in Woodbridge, Va. But a house rule for the new establishment is roiling some Virginians: no guns are allowed inside.

Toby Keith is not only a hugely successful country star (and actor), he also has personally opened a couple of restaurants, and through other companies, has now expanded those establishments into about a dozen cities.

The latest Toby Keith restaurant opened in Woodbridge. Prominently displayed on the front door is a sign saying: “NO GUNS PERMITTED.”

Virginia happens to be a gun-friendly state, where it’s quite permissible for citizens to strap on a weapon and go into a bar or restaurant, as long as the weapon is clearly visible. State law is silent on the issue of drinking while openly carrying a gun. (State law does prohibit most citizens who are legally carrying a concealed weapon from consuming alcohol, but they, too, are allowed to go into a bar or restaurant.)

The owners have the right to say “no” to firearms, and that’s the rule at Keith’s Woodbridge restaurant.

Guns and alcohol are a horrible combination, contributing to many negligent discharges and attempted suicides. I personally refuse to mix the two, and won’t knowingly be around anyone who does. That is my choice and First Amendment right (freedom of association) as an American citizen.

The owners of Keith’s restaurant in Virginia are exercising their freedom and their private property rights as well, and have decided to ban firearms. They are probably doing so because of this very specific quirk in Virginia law that allows open carriers to drink alcohol while armed (concealed carriers are explicitly banned). This was no doubt a decision made by a legal team after weighing what legal liabilities the restaurant would incur if they served an openly armed patron, and that patron then did something illegal with his firearm either at that location, or after leaving.

Other states (such as North Carolina) allow concealed carriers into restaurants that serve alcohol (unless specifically posted), but prohibit them from drinking. This gives the restaurants a certain level of legal liability protection if someone chooses to break the law and mixes the carrying of guns with alcohol consumption.

The leftist media would love nothing more than to cause a patriot like Keith heartache while simultaneously infuriating gun owners by trying to gin up a controversy. Divide and conquer is, after all, what progressives do best.

I don’t blame Keith’s restaurant at all for protecting itself from legal liabilities and costly civil lawsuits that may result if customers were served drinks while open carrying, and I suspect that if that legal oversight is rectified, that Keith’s restaurant will be a lot more amendable to scrapping off their “NO GUNS PERMITTED” sign.

I don’t consider this a gun rights issue, but one of legal liability and poor law-making.