A Portland restaurateur used her business’s Facebook page to speak her mind on assault weapons — inciting a backlash from gun rights advocates.
Anne Verrill, owner of Grace on Chestnut Street, and Foreside Tavern & Side Bar in Falmouth, published the post on Wednesday, along with a photo of an assault rifle similar to the one used in the Orlando massacre.
“I have spent 12 years, intentionally, not being political on this page… Let me be clear, this is not a political issue,” she wrote, according to several reports. “This is a human rights issue. If you own this gun, 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.”
Verrill, who later deleted the post, told BDN Portland that she stood by her comments, but said she was only addressing a specific firearm.
“I am in no way, shape or form trying to lump a group of people and tell them I will not serve them,” Verrill said. “I spoke very specifically about a specific gun, that was specifically used to terrorize a group of people who are now all dead.”
The message prompted many commenters on Facebook to criticize the post, though some did defend her. The restaurant also received a number of negative reviews, citing the post.
“Big old target now painted on your business now that criminals know you and your patrons do not carry protection,” one person said.
Verrill said her original post stemmed from a conversation with her sister about letting her daughter attend the Portland Pride parade.
“My sister asked if I would let my daughter march in the Pride parade and I said no, because it’s too fresh and I was nervous about putting her in a group of people in the city streets,” Verrill said.
She said that it wasn’t like her to be fearful, so she decided to take a stand and post her message on Facebook.
“I can’t just sit here and pretend that I think things are going to change,” she said. “I can’t just sit here and keep liking the right Facebook memes.”