Take a gun range, insert a restaurant, and top it off with a full-service bar. What could possibly go wrong? According to ammosexuals in Daytona Beach, Florida, absolutely nothing. The owner of Top Gun Shooting Range and Restaurant assured local press that safety was a top priority, with a few customers agreeing by saying things like, “They check everybody. You can’t have a drink and go shoot a gun, so it’s safe.” And as we all know, the sober are guaranteed not to accidentally kill themselves or others while using guns.
The fact that this restaurant serves alcohol simply cannot be stressed enough. The restaurant has adopted a few commonsense safety measures, like separating the eating area from the shooting range (and it’s a good thing bullets respect arbitrary barriers between areas of square footage on the same lot). Patrons who wish to use the range but not the restaurant would even have to sign a statement saying they’re not under the influence of drugs or alcohol (and it’s a good thing humans are always honest). The owner hasn’t let the “safety” features get in the way of his dream, though, saying he wants the restaurant to be on the same scale as an Outback steakhouse (specifically Outback). And in a stark admission about what exactly the restaurant will be encouraging its patrons to do the most, the owner admitted to Daytona Beach city commissioners that alcohol sales were needed to make his venture profitable.
It seems that the only people actually convinced that alcohol and bullets won’t end up mixed in a deadly cocktail are the restaurant owner and Daytona Beach city commissioners. Even Vice News, while taking care to detail the safety plans of business owner Ron Perkins, seemed skeptical at best. The Daily Mail laughed in the face of the entire enterprise, particularly the bit about customers signing an affidavit, quoting a customer who said, “You go in and you sign a paper saying, “I am sober.” ‘That’s just like you going into a fireworks place and you sign a paper that says, “I won’t use this to scare birds off.” It doesn’t mean a thing.”
If this restaurant weren’t opening in Florida, the reaction might be more one of shock instead of resigned acceptance and outside skepticism. But Florida is one of the most gun-friendly places in the developed world. Florida’s nonsensical gun laws include banning doctors from discussing the possible harmful effects of being shot with patients, banning employers from telling employees they can’t bring guns to work, the much-maligned castle doctrine and stand-your-ground laws that allowed Treyvon Martin’s assassin to walk out of court a free man, and a host of proposed open carry bills still yet to pass the state legislature. In the eyes of many Florida politicians, a gun is quite simply more a man’s best friend than a dog.
What’s heartbreaking about the proposed restaurant and about Florida’s gun culture in general, is how much it ignores the reality: that guns are made to kill people and that the people who wield guns in unsafe and criminal ways are getting better and better at killing. Out of 355 mass shootings in 2015, 27 were in Florida, more than its share but thankfully fewer than could have been. Millions of Americans continue to wait with little hope for an end to the culture that permits this madness.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons