An Outback Steakhouse in Cleveland, Tennessee, is the center of a major controversy after employees there asked a uniformed officer to leave due to Outback’s “gun-free zone” policy.
Andrew Ward, an officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Management Agency, wrote about his experience in the restaurant Friday on Facebook.
“Well we had a first tonight…. while I was at work tonight (in uniform) I stopped by Outback Steakhouse to eat supper with my wife,” Ward wrote in the post that is no longer public.
“I was approached by the manager and asked if I would put my gun in my truck. I let her know that I couldn’t because I was in uniform. She then went and made a call and came back and we were asked to leave because Outback is a gun free zone.”
Here’s a partial screenshot from WTIC-TV:
While Ward said that he doesn’t “blame the manager … this is ridiculous and we will never go back there ever again.”
The chain has apologized for ejecting Ward from the restaurant, saying that it goes against policy.
“We’ve always allowed uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their side arms inside our restaurants,” a statement from the restaurant to WTIC-TV read.
“A manager made a mistake and we have discussed this with her. We have contacted the guest personally and apologized.”
However, the reason the restaurant gave Ward and his wife is a telling one.
“Outback has contacted us and has apologized for the incident,” Ward wrote.
“There was another customer that was ‘scared for her life’ who was seated across from us. This customer also stated that she was afraid because ‘police are shooting people‘ and this customer went on to demand to be escorted to her vehicle out of fear of being shot. Again I don’t blame the manager in this situation.”
No, I certainly don’t either, although they certainly could have been somewhat more sensible from the sound of things. This is how far we’ve come in this country: We’ve vilified police officers to the point where patrons actually fear them sitting in an Outback, as if they’ll just open fire indiscriminately.
This is where we are as a society, viewing those charged with protecting us not just as threats, but as psychopaths who enjoy inflicting death. That’s a truly sobering thing to consider.
“Folks we need to turn our attention to people like this who try and push their agenda on all those around them. When an entire restaurant full of other happy people were completely fine with my presence,” Ward wrote in the conclusion to his Facebook post.
“As a country we need to stand up for each other as so many who have shared this post have done. I am truly humbled by the support we received.”
Indeed, there was plenty of support, with over 216,000 shares as of Tuesday morning, though there must have been a backlash, too, considering Ward has changed the post’s settings.
To appease one anti-police customer, Outback now has 216,000 individuals who have stood up for Officer Andrew Ward and shared his story. How many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have seen it in one way or another? And who’s going to feel more secure in an Outback because of it? How many people are going to be more likely to go to the restaurant?
Perhaps next time a restaurant wants to disrespect an officer — a man or woman of the law who needs to carry their firearm with them — by asking them to leave, they’ll think of just what happened to this Outback and think again.
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